Frida Kahlo's "Le Due Frida"

But I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Jose Vilson Jose 11 Comments

Frida Kahlo's "Le Due Frida"

Frida Kahlo's "Le Due Frida"

I walked into the Acentos Poetry Workshop at Hostos Community College, weary from a series of events including incurring a nasty virus and having to teach teachers how to affirm their voices in front of children (something I’m struggling with), but also resolved to make become the master of my metaphorical Starship Enterprise without getting my ass whooped through a quarter of the whole movie. (Seriously, the new James Kirk got his butt whooped through that whole thing.)

More than anything, I hoped to go in there not as The Jose Vilson, website extraordinaire / blogger / writer / teacher / etc, but Jose, the newbie at this thing. While it’s easy for me to give into my 202+ readers on Twitter, and all the other people who tend to follow my life without actually responding much except in “likes” and “that was hot”‘s, it was good to come into a situation where I didn’t know most of the people in the room, thus leaving me a bit exposed and vulnerable. An advantage I haven’t had in quite a while.

There’s this idea that Aracelis Girmay presented today about multiple I’s, and what we consider to be just that one I when it’s really multiple identities. I’ve moved past simple recognition and now use those multiple identities to my advantage, and hopefully in the process, make them that one I, going back to that idea of oneness and peace we all seek, right? Right? Yet, today only proved that I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

For one, in one of Girmay’s prompts, she asks us to write a piece using the words, “I was never a …” The first thought that popped into my head was, “I was never an alien,” but honestly, I think I am. Pretty damn sure of it actually. I was about to write an element I never materialized into, but as with everything, I’ve been every element depending on the circumstances and the person. I’ve seen myself as fire, water, earth, and air, and in every instance, I knew I could find my way back to the other three with the right conduit.

Then, as we all spoke to each other at the end, and I asked Girmay about her tastes in books (“all over the place,” which I should have known), Tara Betts, probably one of my favorite poets particularly because of her command of her art and her delivery, tells Araceli, “Oh he’s a sweetheart and he’s got a blog, too, and it’s really good. You should read it.”

At the moment, I was definitely shy about the situation: after all, Tara Betts just said my blog was hot. I’d heard it before from her, but for her to rec’ it to someone else? Even hotter. Yet, I was Jose, not The Jose Vilson, so I kinda gave a “Thanks, Tara. All blowing up my spot,” jokingly. After all, no one needed to know The Jose Vilson just yet, because Jose would suffice. Tara herself didn’t need to apologize because, unlike many humans I’ve met, she’s found a oneness in her image other young, aspiring writers (besides me) want in their aura. Thus, those sorts of compliments are second-nature to her. For me, there’s too much of a duality still: is it Jose receiving the compliment or The Jose Vilson? It’s weird.

And it got me to thinking: Jose and The Jose Vilson are separate beings encapsulated in the same life vessel. I also have Mr. Vilson (who people have familiarized themselves with quite often), Luis, and … well, I’ll leave it at that. The reason why, despite all my best efforts, is because every persona knows exactly what the others are doing, and those entities can’t really do much to intercept the other, but when they try, interesting things happen. I get a chance to be anew and prove myself all over again, or a chance to have conversation without bias to having read my work and / or know where I’ve been or what I do besides a very ambiguous “teach math.”

Then again, I don’t think I’ll ever find a place where all those roads intersect onto one crossroad. Thus, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for …

Jose, who’s glad he didn’t have to get ready for school …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 11

  1. James Vilson

    J,

    Even Superman, Spiderman, and Batman (although fictional ) had secret identities or better known as their milder side. TheJLV is a great machanism to separate the blogger, writer, teacher, poet from José the brother, friend, or sometimes a jackass (runs in the fam ). Any way you look it this situation, we all know that we’re only referring to the same being, but we need to differentiate your moods or state of mind. As I referred from the beginning even Superman had a shy side, but he wal knew to release the “beast” when needed. Same applies to your recent experience. Great work G!

    TheJVL, ha!

  2. Blue

    Fascinating post. I’ve considered some similar things lately when thinking about my ‘social’ posts/activity versus my ‘professional’ posts/activity. I haven’t reached a conclusion yet, as to how they reconcile with each other, or even if they should. But I like this idea of bringing them all together, back to the oneness that is me—full of facets that most people never get the chance to know entirely. Really interesting. Thanks for sharing what you learned.

  3. J.M. Holland

    J.M. Holland says… sweet post. Like I said the other night, you have never put on the mask to do your work. You may adopt a different voice like an actor but there is never a costume change. I think maybe in being among all those you hoped to connect with because you respect their “persona’s” you hoped to be closer to your “true” self? In order to what? Experience it more, better, deeper? I think that no matter what persona you are at the moment it may always be the true self that learns and changes in order to reflect on the mask… (is that a Plato’s cave reference?) I don’t know. Anyway, glad to know which ever one of you I know and glad to experience the world through your voice, one that I admire and appreciate.

  4. Speaks Beliefs

    Great post! After reading, I reflected on the two personalities that occupy my flesh. No one at work knows Mr. Champion (school administrator) as Speaks Beliefs (poet). As a teacher I felt like I would have the freedom to share this side (a teacher who always tried to buck the system wearing wild afros and cornrows to work). Awkward is the position I find myself in now, juggling career advancement with my passion to write and freedom of speech. Wondering what it would be like in that moment, when a teacher or supervisor approaches me asking, “Speaks Beliefs?” LOL. Again, this is a great post. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Amber Cabral

    I have struggled with duality for as long as I can remember. Multiples, not so much. But we have had this conversation. And it has ultimately led to the closing of my website and let the writer in me into hiding.

    While I have a balance, what I do not have a good command of is feeling safe being whomever shows up (Amber or Bam), and safety is first, (at least that’s what I keep hearing). When Amber pops up at the electronic music festival I feel weird, just like when Bam shows up for work.

    At the end of the day, I think the trick to managing these aspects of ourselves is to feed them what they need… Which of course begins with identifying what it is they need. Which can be hard.

    *sigh.

    I’ll let you know how it works out.

  6. Mel

    It is difficult maintaining the online you and the real life you. I don’t know about you, but at times I feel like I’m leading a double life.

  7. Post
    Author
    Jose

    One of the things I’m always impressed by when I read some of your comments is that you actually open yourselves to my thinking, and for that, I’m thankful.

    Now, James, a jackass? Never that. Just messing with you. I have my hater moments.

    J.M., you’ve seen most facets of me, so you’re in a small company, honest. P.S. – I’ve just been schooled as far as Plato’s allegory of the cave. It’s awesome to the tenth degree, and I’m going to keep reading up on it after I write this comment, that’s for sure.

    SB, what I find funny about that is that, even within your Mr. C, you still occupy a few beings there, too, and those roles change depending on whose in front of you and what the situation requires and whether you’ve wrested the power to take on those roles.

    Amber, please do. Still waiting …

    Mel, it is a bit of a double life, and until people stop fearing the power of the Internet and learn how to harness, you’ll continue to do so.

  8. Mel

    A lot of my friends are online. If those that I met in real life knew that, they’d freak. Especially my fam. My mom is convinced that everyone online is a psycho ax murderer.

  9. kat

    I love your interpretation of the world from what I’ve read so far. These two entities aren’t separate. They are both authentic parts of who you are. For me it’s mostly a battle between my regular life and my spiritual life. The first thing the Guru will teach you is that they are not separate. In life we are always who we are the only difference is how you show up. There is nothing new to become it is simply a dusting off of your layers until the real you, god actualized, greater Self, higher wisdom is what you are guided by. . You’ve heard people say “Oh you clean up nice.” Whether you’re wearing a tux or sweats and a t-shirt it’s still you just showing up in a different way. So pay attention to what is ego (unhealthy, envious, blocking, scared) and what is spirit (allowing, loving, all-knowing, strong, proud) and always try to show up from spirit… my spiritual name is Chaitanya btw… it means very potent, which I definitely can be.. now you know that much more about me ;o) …

    From an artistic perspective its different because there is definitely something greater than just us when we write/perform/display our dopest pieces. In these moments time stands still and the audience is left captured in the Nowness of that moment.. it’s a beautiful thing. I really agree with Elizabeth Gilbert’s explanation of our greatest works of art being inspired by something much greater than us.. eases the pressure.. after all WE are only human.. until we become enlightened, a guru, or simply cross over.. check this out http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html
    Just keep understanding that what you’re looking for is that greater connection to yourSelf.

    I like what you do Jose… yup.

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