We curate a space for strength and vulnerability.
Dedicating ourselves to our friendship and collaborative movement.
Who are we?
A superhuman expression of creativity.
To empower the authentic/innate good in all of us.
There was no particular moment when Liberty and I decided to save the world. Really, we just decided to save ourselves. By the end of the day, we realized it was the same thing.
She met me in the front yard as I approached her mother’s house. Whatever verbal greetings we gave, they’re lost now. It doesn’t matter. Neither one of us really knew what to say or how to start. Our hug was the real hello, and then a silent moment shared between us during which we surrendered to the unknown before walking inside.
We stretched first, as though preparing for a triathlon. Might as well have been, for the day ahead would provide many challenges.
“So, what now?” Liberty asked, not because she didn’t know, but because Liberty is a leader. Our summit had begun. “Why are we doing this?”
Easy. “To be happy.” I said. Plainest is purist. I answered for myself, but it was true for both of us. “I don’t want to spend anymore of my life shutting off the best parts of myself for 8 hours a day. I want to spend my energy and my time on passion. I want the end of the workday to come too soon. I want to go to bed exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually. I want to be my best self so that I can give the best of myself.”
“I want that for you!” she cried out, fists gripping the air.
I buzzed so intensely that it set my ears ringing. Cheeks flushed with that momentary rush of inspiration that always comes right before deflation, I sighed. A third presence made itself known to me. It never really leaves. It’s a voice unseen, save in my mind’s eye. It lives in me, in all of us.
It whispered, You think you’ve earned it?
A good question.
Lib went on. “Yes! So simple, so true. Be our best selves, give our best selves. I want that for you. For everyone. Imagine if everybody out there... Imagine it!”
“Crazy.” I said.
It’ll never happen. whispers the Voice.
“Not crazy!” insisted Lib. “People just need to get out of their minds a little bit. You and I can create the experience that gives it to them.”
I wrote that down.
“Why do we want it?” Lib asked.
Because you think you deserve it. the Voice tells me. You’re a selfish, entitled begging chooser, a privileged, fat-brat crybaby who thinks he’s special.
“Because it’s okay that we do it.” I said.
“It’s okay that we do it.” she repeated back. “Yeah. It’s okay to want to be happy.”
“This isn’t about fame and it’s not about money.” I said. “It’s about freedom.”
Liar. Who doesn’t want fame? Money is freedom.
Liberty smiled. “It’s about freedom.”
“Freedom to be our authentic selves.”
“Yes. For everybody to be their authentic selves.”
“So we are here to create an experience--” I began to write.
“An epic experience!” cried Lib, as though leading an army into battle.
“We are here to create an epic experience to get people out of their minds.”
“To empower ourselves...” Lib added.
“To empower the authentic good in all of us.”
“Bingo.” said Lib.
The Voice says nothing.
“Who are we?” Liberty asked. Three words, five questions.
Who do I think I am?
Who do I think Liberty is?
Who does Liberty think I am?
How does she define herself?
And what do all of these definitions add up to?
We wrote our answers independently and in silence. Liberty attacked the page with vigor, listing trait after trait as though she had a wordbank in the margin. Her mind had already compiled the beginnings of a list at some point, whether she knew it or not. That was part of who she was to me--a planner, a go-getter, someone who prepared. Behind the silver-streaked black curls, beneath freckle flecked pale skin, Lib is a burning sun radiating willpower and determination. She’s taller than her measure, stronger than her lift--she is driven by an internal force powered by life itself. She is a Protector of her family, her friends, herself -- there is no distinction between the three for Lib. Her love is motherly to all within the fortress she builds. She is a benevolent goddess in her own universe and she has welcomed me to join it.
And what have you to offer her? You’re a fool, says the voice.
Am I a fool? Is that who I am? Perhaps. I’ve been wrong about a great many things. I can see the fool when I close my eyes, a little boy with curly hair just like mine. He wears Superman pajamas and he runs full tilt so that his cape flaps in his wake. When he puts his fists out, he’s flying. Only in his imagination, of course. He can’t fly, not yet, but he thinks one day he’ll grow up to be worthy of flight and all the other powers. One must be worthy to receive these sorts of powers. That’s what makes Superman so great--not his abilities, but the actions and decisions he makes with them. If he wanted to, he could enslave the world, force every one of us to do anything he said. He could rob every bank, win every game, kill every villain--but he doesn’t. With all that power, Superman always does the right thing, the good thing. He’s worthy of the power and that is a power greater than flight, greater than super strength or x-ray vision--it’s the power to do good.
I don’t suppose I’m worthy of all the other powers anymore. I’d mess them up somehow, give in to some petty desire and corrupt everything. But that doesn’t change that boy in me. I am still just a boy in a cape, and from day one that boy was ready for the power to do good. From day one, I was worthy.
I don’t care what the Voice has to say about that.
Time was up. I’d only written one thing about myself. Liberty shared first.
“I’m driven to make the world a better place.” she began. “I’m honest, creative, authentic, confident (to a fault) and opinionated.” I love how blunt and honest she is.
“Confident to a fault?” I said, eyebrows raised.
“Yup.” she said, chin up and out, daring me to challenge her.
I smiled and nodded. “Agreed.”
“You, however--” she sneered, then smiled. “You are thoughtful. Insightful. Honest. Creative. Diligent. Authentic. Capable. Talented. Quiet. Humble. Available. Kind. Opinionated.”
Deny it, the Voice said. Reject the compliments. Creative? Capable? Talented? Throw them back, it’s not right to accept them. Say something funny instead.
“No.” I said.
“You can’t say no! That’s who you are to me.” Lib chided.
I was talking to someone else, but I just smiled back. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, take it.”
I smiled. “Okay then.” I went on to explain my vision of Liberty the Protector, Liberty the Builder, Liberty the Brave. She received my descriptions with grace, nodding along with and understanding my wandering reason. I wonder if she heard a voice in that moment.
“Okay then, what about you? Who are you?” she asked.
A fool. A dreamer. Not as special as you think.
I took a breath and pushed out the doubt. “I am a boy in a cape.”
That was enough. Liberty understood. “We’re quite a pair,” she said. “Both creative, both authentic, both opinionated. A boy in a cape and a confident protector.”
“To a fault.”
“To a fault.” she agreed. “A superhuman expression of creativity. Nothing less.”
I wrote that down. In that moment we felt as though we’d known each other a lifetime. But really, in terms of time spent and experiences shared, we’d only just scratched the surface.
Lib read my mind. “This is important, what we’re doing.” she said. “We are important. To do this right, to succeed, we have to invest in each other. Our relationship is the foundation of our collaborative movement.”
She doesn’t need you. says the Voice. She’s stronger than you.
Lunchtime had passed without us. Lib cooked up some breakfast burritos with eggs made from mung beans. I had seconds and thirds. What if the workday could be like this? What if each day started as an investigation from within ourselves and then out into the world, into the future? What if our daily purpose held such personal importance that our focus was so diligent that lunch just passed us by unnoticed? Incredible.
We strolled out into the backyard and wandered into the prairie beyond. The dry scrub and tall grass whispered in the wind and the shriveled leaves and fronds crunched beneath our feet. The rest of the world seemed to be hundreds of miles away.
“So, cape boy, what are we going to do?”
Probably give up. Probably fail.
I didn’t answer at first, I let the Voice speak its piece and watched the words float away. But just before they were out of reach, I snatched them back and squeezed.
“Do you remember when you were a kid and you’d dream about changing the world?”
“I honestly believed that I’d have superpowers one day. Every once in a while, if nobody was looking, I’d jump up just to see if I could fly yet.”
The Voice laughs.
Lib did not. She knew the feeling.
“I still catch myself every once in a while looking to see if anyone’s watching. There’s a voice in me that tells me how stupid that is. Someone is always watching, someone is always judging, it says. The voice puts me down, reminds me that the good guys only win in the movies, reminds me that in the real world the good guys give up or give in. The good guys don’t even really exist. There’re no good guys, just people--corrupt people, cruel people, selfish people, scared people, and the rest are fools. But when I was a kid, I wore my Superman pajamas every day and I knew that I’d use my power to do good. I’d grow up to be someone important, someone who made a difference. But as I grew up, all around me there were people--grownups--who began to tell me to expect less, to calibrate my dreams, to be more realistic. Politicians are and always will be corrupt, they said. People are and always will be greedy. Love is not the answer, but it’s a nice idea. I’m special but so is everyone else and that makes me less special. I listened to them. Before long I started to believe them. Their voices began to follow me wherever I went. I started to feel embarrassed about my dreams, embarrassed to wear a cape.”
You gave up. You took off the cape.
“I took off the cape.”
“You didn’t take it off, you just forgot you were wearing it.” Lib said. “You’re here, your cape is on, I see it. Everybody goes through what we did. Everybody thinks they’re going to be great and wonderful as a kid only to give it all up for whatever. Think about our parents’ generation. They were all about peace and love and now look at them--broken by money, power, safety, whatever it is that breaks people. Most of them took off their capes. Not us.”
“Yeah.” I said, feeling a surge of strength. “We can still do it.”
“I will not expect less!” she cried.
“Me neither. Let’s be the generation that keeps our capes on.”
“Let’s be the movement who never gives up on our moral standards. We’re tired of being told to expect less. We expect a future, we expect the preservation of life and happiness, we expect goodness, we expect inclusion and fairness.”
“We expect love and we expect hope.”
“Right! And to get it, we’re putting on our capes.”
From the moment we came together, more than a year ago now, we’d been journeying to this realization. Our purpose became clear. Lib summed it up perfectly. “Capes. It’s a platform for any creative solution--marches, protests, songs, books, movies--it’s a movement. It’s time to put our capes on, to work together, to collaborate.”
“And everybody’s cape can be their own power, their own cause--a cape for the environment, a cape for inclusion, acceptance, expression, for general decency--all the capes together fight for hope and for love.”
“No distinctions, your cape can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you’re fighting for hope. For the future.”
“Wear the cape that makes you feel powerful. Wear the cape that makes it okay for you to do what you dream.”
Lib nodded. “Because it’s okay that we do it.”
“It’s okay that we do it.”
It’s not realistic. says the Voice.
It’s not a reality because we haven’t made it real yet.
You’ll never achieve everything you hope for. You’ll only be disappointed.
We’ll only be disappointed if we don’t try.
You’re not strong enough.
We’re only as strong as each other. Your strength is my strength. The world’s strength belongs to us all.
You can’t save everybody.
I can save myself. I can save you, the voice who says I can’t. You’ve been through just as much as I. You hurt as I hurt, and Lib, and our loved ones, and so on. We can all save each other. And then the world.”