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form

now is the beginning of the rest of my life. i know that things are going well when i feel filled with hope and excitement for what is around the corner… and that is overwhelming how i’ve felt since returning home.

though coming back has offered challenge and inspiration both. the most obvious cause is my adoption of dastaar. every morning before i wear it, i feel stirrings of terror. but once it’s on, absolute certainty. this is right. and i am me now. fully.

besides, my own terror often has a way of daring the softer parts of myself to take a deeper look into what is going on inside…

that being said, the space i felt (and feel) most nervous about entering with this new form is not: family spaces, public spaces, employment spaces. the place i most fear is: grad school. it’s a place i have already marked with my own insecurities. and i know well the incisive self-righteousness that can evolve out of a place focused on the power of the mind alone. i know because i have judged and critiqued and torn apart those around me based on the analysis that my mind has conjured. and now i carry with me a vulnerability – a marker of religiousity.

but even more then that, the combination of my body and kara and dastaar leaves me (appropriately) vulnerable to questions about ‘appropriation,’ and even ‘theft.’ realities which my ego has worked so hard to distance myself from – as part of a defensive response to the reality of racial violence. of white supremacy. of global structures of benefit and loss based on a complex of attributes, including colour, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, ability, political affiliation and more.

because now i no longer carry the self-protection of ‘clearly not taking.’ though the truth is, although in a more obvious form now, i have always been in debt to many different peoples in the world. and the largest debt is to those with the least access to movement, to mobility upwards in this society, the indigenous peoples of turtle island whose colonization built the framework for the opportunities that i have. but also, to all the peoples worldwide who are pre-emptively blocked and judged and boxed based on where they are born, what language they speak (or don’t), and more. and from whom philosophies about the world, spirituality, art forms, ways of dress, and more are taken, commodified, re-packaged, diluted, and made palitable to a white audience.

because of these realities, my encounter with Sikhi isn’t ‘innocent.’ and since, as mentioned above, i was born in debt to other peoples, the obviousness of my debt to sikh peoples simply exposes a truth that was always there.

the experience of Waheguru in my life, and my attempts to express my love and devotion to Her are the two things onto which i seek to centre my life, not in the hopes of denying or running away from the complication of what it means for a person like me to walk the path of Sikhi, but in the hopes of facing this complication fully, unflinchingly, and openly with others. because i think that true gratitude demands this kind of openness. and through my service to the khalsa panth (whatever that service may be, however it may evolve through time), i hope to express both.

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