Perspective & Power | A Weekend In DC

"Sheena LaShay" In early February I took a long weekend trip to Washington DC. I was going to spend time with Hank and to take a break. I needed some space from the New York City and my every day life. A lot of my projects were weighing down on me, I was preparing to move to a new apartment and there had just been a lot of things on my mind. I needed some silence and stillness. I needed my own space. The last time I had been to DC was in 2004 to visit a friend. I had a wonderful time but I was long overdue for a return visit.

I remember feeling so conflicted the first time I visited DC. Along with studying Communications, I also studied Sociology. Around that time I was taking Social Change, Urban Sociology and Crime & Delinquency. I remember the world was at war. It was only 3 years after 9/11. I remember believing the World Bank was run by the devil. But I was in awe of the city too. Perhaps because I love to travel. Perhaps because of its history. No matter how corrupt DC may be, it still has this rich history and that intrigued me. I remember everything being so grand and so big. I also felt like a hypocrite. I was frustrated at consumerism, poverty, homelessness, and corrupt politics to name a few but I stopped by a starbucks every chance I got and half my time was spent shopping in Georgetown. I was also conflicted because here was another city where I felt myself come alive sensually and sexually and yet my religious beliefs at the time only led me to guilt and frustration. How was it possible? How was it possible that my body AND spirit were so alive and engaged and yet technicallyy there was supposed to be something wrong with it. My first time in DC was interesting, to say the least. Fast forward 8 years later.

"Sheena LaShay"

Upon arriving in the city and getting settled in, I hopped in a taxi and made my way to the Library of Congress. I love libraries. Its the first place I went in Boston. Its where I love to go in New York, London and Chicago. It’s a must on every trip. Everyone has their thing. The library is mine. I was disappointed that I couldn’t take pictures of every exhibit and every thing that I saw but its no matter. That further iterated to me that I need to learn to draw since that might be the only way to capture these moments. I spent a few hours in the library on a huge high and by the time I left, I had purchased 5 or 6 journals from the gift shop. (Its a slight addiction of mine. According to last count it turns out I have over 100 journals in my apartment. Some are filled and some are empty but they all are MINE!)

"Sheena LaShay"

I spent a few hours walking to a lot of the memorials. Due to the weather, state of the world and perhaps the construction of the reflection pool, the memorials were almost deserted.  I recall during my visit in 2004, there being masses of people at the reflection pool. There was a protest. Something was happening in Haiti. Some Granolas wanted me to join their farm in middle America. (I bought their t-shirt instead.) There were news crews, people chanting and a massive amount of dissatisfaction. On this particular day 8 years later, it was quiet, still and slightly chilling.

"Sheena LaShay" I walked all over the city that day. I had my camera, my journal, and no particular destination in mind. I think every now and then we need to go somewhere else and just wander. One of the things I decided not to do was use my iPod. Any day of the week, if you pass me on the street, I have my headphones in my ear. I’m ALWAYS listening to music. (Right now, I’m listening to music as a type. I have a dance assignment coming up and I have to find the perfect 90’s song.) Since one of the points of this trip was to gain some perspective, to slow down and breathe, I kept my headphones in my pocket. What a difference that makes! I heard so much. Its quite interesting the bits of conversation you pick up on as you pass by people in the world. I heard two young children discussing money.

5 year old: Was it $50,000?

7 year old: No its was $75,000.

I have no clue what it was in reference too but it was interesting. I heard two college friends discussing vacations, men and wanting to switch schools. A father bragged to his friend about his high school son’s accomplishments. I can’t repeat what I heard the frat boys say. And I remember while having tea hearing a mother justify why she felt her daughter needed to have an eating disorder. That was the most disturbing thing I heard. But still I heard it.

What was the last thing you heard while engaging in the world around you? It keeps you present, engaged and if you’re a writer like me, it gives you inspiration and so many ideas.

"Sheena LaShay"

While spending time with myself was the most important part of this trip, as mentioned I was able to spend some time with the wonderful Hank. I continue to appreciate that he’s a great travel partner. That is not the truth for everyone but we happen to make a very good travel team. We ate Thai, hung out at clubs and meet up with some of our One Wheaton friends. I also had the opportunity to meet up with Chai from Back to Curly and share a few meals together. Click her name. She wrote about the trip as well. She’s a lovely woman with a great spirit and I was so glad our trips ended up happening during the same time. I think nothing happens by accident though.

While I had the chance to do many other things, capture videos and photographs as well as fill my journal with all my musings, I want to end this focusing on what may have been the most profound part of the trip for me. That would have to be the five hours I spent at the National Holocaust Museum. I have this thirst for Jewish culture without any reason. I love visiting Jewish museums and learning about their traditions. It’s no wonder then, that I would end up at the museum. What can I say? I learned a lot more about Hitler in this particular museum than at any other Jewish and/or Holocaust Museum. I felt like they captured the energy of that dark period in a very artistic and educational way. Of course I learned the stories of those affected by the Holocaust. I saw replicas of what the gas chambers where really like and the scale of humans that were killed in them. I was simply so affected by it all. In the end, I lit a candle and sat in silence for awhile taking in all that I had experienced.

We are capable of anything. We can literally destroy the world, culture and each other if we set out to do it. I wonder where that comes from? Fear? Ignorance? Trauma? I don’t know. The problem is this continues. On small and large scales. Genocide still happens today. Cultural annihilation. Repressions. Oppression. Perhaps it also comes from a desire for power and not just fear, ignorance and trauma? I don’t know.

What I do know is that if you are ever in DC, you should visit that museum and spent an afternoon exploring every inch of it.

What I also know is that we also are capable of creating worlds, building people up and offering hope and life. I want to see more of that. There is room and enough abundance in the world for everyone to live in their power.  We can be powerful operating out of love. It is completely possible.

I took a bunch of pictures. More can be found on flickr!


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