As an empath, I live in a world of visual stories, sounds that paint emotions, a mesh of my own internal movie and the guest movies of others coming and going at will.
Spinning in the maze of emotions, the experiences can be a living hell or it can be the most empowering feeling in the world.
To know the magic of creation is to know the magic of possibilities. Emotions are but seeds of life reflecting themselves in possibilities. As an empath, I hear and feel those possibilities 24/7. But to use this personal dialogue for the empowerment of all involved has been my mission to be of service to myself and the planet, turning my gift and my fears into blessings.
We typically fear what we do not understand. Once we truly know fear and no longer fear it, we can see the true message and the seed of the fear—the underlying story.
I heard and felt so many people’s voices, I had a hard time hearing my own. I found comfort in my world of a capella music teachers and singers. I learned to blend, to use my voice to harmonize with everyone else. I learned to listen and be interpretive as I learned how to become an individual, and working as part of a unified voice. I was always afraid I would miss the mark and fail in my mission to save my creative face.
I found I could hold the integrity of my part by using techniques I learned from classical voice training and the techniques from my grandfather and grandmother who were a cappella gospel music teachers. I found the notes, the story and the placement of my gift I would be offering with and to the singing choir. I felt as if I had found a gift of love, an island of safety where my spirit felt fulfilled and embraced. I learned to sing in confidence when I was afraid or simply when I needed to communicate my deepest emotions.
Because of my gift of being an empath, I could feel the emotions of the singers and where the emotions were traveling within the lyrical, emotional storyline. And, I always enjoyed the emotional train ride of the musical notes being released. I found I was safe within the unified emotions of the group as I was able to hear how my part peaked and valleyed within the overall operatic emotions being sung. I felt safe within the structure of the wanton and the uplifted, within the different levels of vocal expression.
The basics of the opera is a love story, as is the basics of the church spiritual and also the wailing of a blues line, the phrasing of jazz riffs. And in the multi-layers of voices, a beautiful love story is layered in choruses and verses of emotional drama, looking for love to satisfy the soul.
I also looked up to the elders who taught me the vocal craft. The gift of loving a group with your voice while experiencing the gifting yourself. It always brought me a sense of renewal as my fears began to be released. I was safe within my village of singers and their notes of loving. I found the methods to control the internal fears within the notes of the spiritual and the classical, the jazz and blues emoting as simply music for the soul.
I lived life with some success, trying to be an evolved human being, but time seemed to be running out.
In 2002, the life as I had known it came to a halt. I lost everything I owned and was spiritually bankrupted. This was the third time in my life this happened. They say the third time is the charm. It seemed I had backed myself into a corner from giving everything away and not leaving anything for myself. I needed to change my method of travel and although I was deeply afraid, I knew things were falling apart in order to come back together again.
After I spent a month packing up the dishes, the books, the antiques, the art, and the family heirlooms, in the end, I left it all intact, boxed and labeled. I walked out of the walk-up gallery/ living quarters with a shoulder bag, jacket and pants—all leather, to walk into a new life, with all my fears intact.
All I had left that mattered to me were my writings, my art and my dreams. They were all reflections of my inner voice. Because I was aware of the spiritual happening, I could conjure up in a performance. But it seemed I could not keep the feeling going on a daily basis, nor as an on-going ritual in my life. I wanted to be a love song. I wanted a love song for me. I could find something that felt like it. I found it in people and relationships. I discovered I had always lived for the heart of the matter, looking for love, wearing the wrong faces.
I chased it, tasted it. I wrote about it. I imitated it, and tried to make it right. I tried to make it work.
I found I was always looking for love whether I was praying or protesting. I was always looking for the deeper conversations about love, being connected with the mind and the heart.
While searching, I began to gather notes, letters, songs and poems and began to write “Echoes and Ashes,” a poetic novel and love story about the journeys of love. As an empath, my nerve endings were burned and I need to recharge. The writing was a beautiful transformational journey for three months. It would not be published until 2014 on Amazon.com. It became a decision of mine to not publish the book until I became a living example of what I was writing about. I self-published the book with the help of Cathy Wilson, my friend and fellow member of our non-profit, Sacred Voices, honoring the sacredness of each individual voice.
While writing, I felt the words for the book come through me, expressed as me, but there was a divine hand guiding my words I downloaded it as a spiritual healing. It took twelve years of healing, twelve years of cleansing and evolving to become the Sacred Artist my book represented—for real this time. I came to know myself, my voice and the value of my voice within the context of singing in unison with the human world choir.
I am the oldest of six children, raised in a female dominated household, guided by my mother and grandmother to love and nurture. After finding the methods of my manhood while being in the midst of life, I learned to become an emotionally and spiritually aware man as I became a modern man with old school values. It took me over fifty years of being a hair designer, singer, model, father, visual artist, academic and political activist, street performer, poet and spoken word artist and social critic to value the beauty of my sacred voice, my voice of support within the human choir.
I have taken all my gifts to be used for spiritual and social change in our world.
I am now a Sacred Artist in a Modern World. I am a giver and receiver of love, A Man of Love. I have found my voice and the value of my gift within the modern choir. I have no fear of failure. I have taken my show on the road because this love song is for me just as much as it is for you. It is united in the healing notes of loving we can sing as a human choir together, in the process of becoming a sweet song of peace and what a blessing it is.
Terrell Washington Anansi is a poet, writer and a sustainable visual artist of change.
Top photo courtesy of author.