Passionate soul causes catharsis

Passionate soul causes catharsis

Special Guest

by Kristine Cho
Plainly put, it was calm. We sat, inhaling the sunlight that filtered in through the windows. The air was unmoving except for a scrolling mouse as summer heat seeped through the air conditioner and into our bones.
Until Bex slammed the door open.
They were a tidal wave, sweeping their shocked co-worker, Anique, and me into their sudden fury. Kaya, their foxish puppy, scattered away in a flurry of fur tufts and claws on wood.
“I’ve had enough.”
Before I even registered Bex’s command to pull up our working draft, they had uncapped a sky-colored Expo marker and began writing on the walls (albeit, the walls were painted with whiteboard paint and allowed them to do so). They were an artist, a firework of creative energy lit against a dark sky, bursting onto blank surrounding surfaces in the form of half-scribble-half-words about health policy and reproductive justice.
My heartbeat did not slow, even after recovering from Bex’s sudden entrance. It burned with inspiration. The key points that Bex had me call out to them came from the Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute’s (RJLI) “New York City Asian American Organizing Blueprint for Reproductive Justice,” a name far too fancy for me to associate with Bex. They really were an artist, a lover of the world, it’s people, the millions of stories waiting to be told, also having gotten their undergraduate degree in the performing arts. Facebook stalking later on would reveal that the senior organizer spent some time doing spoken word, and that they were good at it.
Understanding this defined the near-poetic love and passion that came from Bex. Calling everyone “my love” or “babe” with a genuineness only they could inhabit, keeping every part of their dedication to justice as a part of their being, sharing the meditation of New York City public transit; almost everything was done with a creative and invested soul, their callused hands masterfully handling even the blue dry erase marker.
Their care and meditation and explosion into the restructuring of a 30-something page document explained more about organizing than I had ever hoped to understand. I spent the first couple days with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) learning about the “unsexy” bits of organizing — the research, the types of relationships, the processes of planning all jotted down in sharpie on half sheets of paper. There were nights where I accompanied Bex to coffee shops to spend RJLI writing parties to laughing, questioning and connecting.
I’m brought to one of my late father’s mottos: “The meaning of life is love. The way of life is peace; the act of life is service.” They are wise words to take to heart, and admittedly, I’m still trying to actualize them. But those words describe well how I was swept into a moment of such meaningful cathartic activism. Surprised catharsis, but catharsis nevertheless.The restlessness that Bex brought in with them drew Anique and I to swivel our chairs and turn towards them, our ideas plastered onto the walls, urging our collective escalation into creative fury.
This space of collaboration brought out the determination for progress. Hunger embodied and empowered. This understanding solidified what nebulous convictions had pushed me through late nights spent studying, frustrating debate rounds and early mornings that begged me to stay under covers. Unexpectedly, but thankfully, self-actualization of this passion came through the tangible embrace of community.
Bex, whose smile radiated welcoming swagger, whose advice was made of calming perfections, whose professionalism was sacrificed for loving embraces, didn’t employ me; they adopted me into their family of solidarity. Into a storm that transformed destructive fury into a healing justice, crafting moments in an office room into a work of progressive art.