My friend Nick and I have known each other since we were 12 years old. He’s one of my oldest friends. This weekend we swam together at his and his wife Dheerja’s latest nomadic settlement, this one in Palm Desert, CA, alongside our friend Rakia. We’re all POC and professionals in our fields. Fields that range from the tech industry, architecture and fabrication to dance and administration. In the midst of a global pandemic, a couple of things have surfaced for each of us individually but also together.
So I pressed record and we went to town. Click here for the audio interview!
Sean Billy Kizy
In the full poolside roundtable, we contemplate how friendship has recently been fore fronted in our lives in unexpected ways, the potential global shift about the future of cities, and most emphatically we discuss (aka. argue) about how we can or cannot shape our world from where we stand right now. All while exposing our very personal paths and values.
The greatest tension came when we came to the question, “Do I leverage my values right now within my work and workplace, or is it most valuable to focus my time exclusively on achieving the highest position available to implement them from the top when we get there?” Nick braved the three of us as Rakia, Dheerja and I defended the value of our continued community-driven actions along the path while he defended his striving for that C-position (ie. CEO, CFO, COO, etc). The snippet of audio above is focused on just this segment.
Does that rally you march or evening you volunteer at the voting booth mean as much as the spreadsheet, long hours or networking dinner? We quickly surmise that they cannot be made into a strict dichotomy. But to Nick’s credit, he defends his position that he would be most effective by focusing exclusively on getting into higher seats of power, carrying a clear set of values to the top and implementing them once there. It didn’t necessarily go where you think it would go next.
The conversation for me can be split into two clear questions:
Have you realized that there is ‘only so much’ you can do in the finite amount of time you have on this earth, so you focus on an achievable goal and do your best to achieve what appears graspable?
Do you believe in the seemingly impossible and shoot for the stars at every mark on the path?
Either camp feels like the other camp is stifling their achievements. I’m curious how you’re feeling as the reader in this moment.
I love this question because I believe it defines all of us deeply. It defines not only your career, but also your personal relationships, your volunteer efforts, and where you spend your money, but more importantly your time and with who. Are possibilities infinite, or are you sabotaging your success because you’ve failed to see the truth of our limited possibilities, we are only human for god’s own sake. It’s at once a naïve question and fundamentally revealing.
I wouldn’t have started Neon Fabrications if I didn’t believe a queer POC could become hugely influential in helping their community through the art of making. I don’t know what that looks like cause I haven’t yet seen it but I believe in the possibility of this yet to be materialized, and therefore seeming impossibility. It’s a trajectory I’ve set for myself and am defining with every step. The path right now looks like this newsletter, my project manager position at UAP, my architecture license, my personal projects and home in Brooklyn, my commuting to upstate New York at least once a week to be on the workshop floor and also my traveling across the continent this week to visit my friends who I desperately miss.
But then again, am I simply reacting to circumstance and failing to aspire to achievable heights in the awesome position I currently hold. I choose to believe there’s more and that I don’t know what more there is because infinite possibilities exist farther than my mind can ever go. So I shoot for the stars with Nick on one shoulder and Dheerja and Rakia on the other.