Steven Licardi explains how he keeps an open heart and mind when faced with screaming headlines and complex issues.
As a writer and a performer, I am constantly having to expose myself to multiple view points and having to research seemingly endless sources of information to build a narrative, write an article, and try to uncover the truth behind the latest controversy flooding my Facebook newsfeed. This process can become exhaustive as I dive deeper into the convoluted realms of citation, paraphrasing, and paragraphs taken out of context, until ultimately I have spelunked so far down the rabbit hole that I find themselves in the darkest recesses of the Internet. A concomitant feeling of despair, anxiety, and depression inevitably follows, and makes this trek treacherous, though all the more necessary.
How I reconcile this endeavor to keep those cyberdemons at bay is twofold. Firstly, I surround myself with peers who share an equally motley array of subjective opinions and personal convictions. The power of having a diverse cohort of peers, colleagues, friends, and family members cannot be understated. More importantly, however, I consistently engage them in discourse on social media or conversations in person that open up these seemingly insurmountable subjects to dialogue, debate, and discussion. A wealth of knowledge can be built from people’s two cents.
Secondly, I allow myself to reflect on these subjects patiently and unbiasedly, giving myself time to process them with both logic and reason, and emotion. Maintaining an open heart and mind are paramount. Being able to question my own beliefs and challenge my own opinions are standards that I hold myself to. By giving myself time to process the easily overwhelming ebb and flow of social issues, I not only show respect to my own wellness and well-being, but I show respect towards the multifaceted and complex issues themselves. For myself, the greatest tool for accomplishing this is poetry, writing, and performance. In my poems, on my blog, and on the stage, this “process of processing” becomes dynamic, meaningful, and healthy. In the end, the action of expression – both artistic and communal – is the driving force that keeps me balanced. Anyone else who may be inspired by those creations make them all the more rewarding.
Hopefully, these words will inspire others to take their own mental and emotional wellness seriously, especially in the face of social reform.
Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr