Meeting people like Anasa is the very reason that I won't schedule these portraits far in advance. Room for serendipity
I would certainly consider myself to be a people watcher and I like to think that, at this point, I've gotten pretty good at reading a person at a glance. Or at very least being able to recognize something more and different going on. That's being true or not, you would have to be blind and completely socially unaware to not recognize the glow that illuminates from Anasa.
I was in a meeting in a local coffee shop. My subconscious people-watching had already scanned the room. In the middle of the conversation I was having my through process crashed and my attention was now focused on this clearly wonderful person that had just come in. The glow and ora that she presented was bright and refreshing.
I see people out all the time and think to myself "Oh.. they would be interesting to photograph. I wonder what their story is. What roads did they take to arrive in the life that I see them in at this moment?"
I can't act every time that I have that thought. I'd never get anything done. Sometimes though... I know that if I don't at least go talk to the person I will later go crazy wondering about it. I paused my meeting and went over to Anasa's table and asked if I could join her. The results of the conversation are obvious but the point is that had I not acted on my intuition I would have missed meeting such a wonderful person! I am so very glad to know Anasa now and to have her as a part of Project 104!
Anaya is my favorite kind of person to hang out with. A broad and deep thiner. This is reflected in the answers that were given to the project questions which include such topics as loving yourself, the difficulties of love and the impact of hope in our day to day.
Love Aimlessly, my friends
What gets you out of bed everyday?
Hmm… That’s a really good question and I’ve actually been thinking about that a lot. I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a typical person’s life so I don’t have the “I need to go to work! I need to feed the kids! I need to… do whatever.” You know. I don’t have any of those things so I… I actually wonder what gets me out of bed in the morning! Haha!
Why do I get out of bed in the morning?!
The first word that comes to mind is obligation. But what am I obligated to? I don’t know. Some days joy gets me out of bed in the morning. ‘Cause I tend to be pretty joyous! Especially these days! I just get up like “What’s gonna happen today!!?” haha!
Curiosity gets me out of bed in the morning. Sometimes meetings get me out of bed. Haha!
Honestly… I think the thing that really gets me out of bed in the morning… …is hope.
There’s always a new possibility every day. Like every day! Every single day that you wake up is a new possibility! It’s another chance to try something new. To create something new. To repair the things that you broke. It’s another chance. I guess… it’s hope. Yeah… I like that answer. That’s right. ‘Cause when I wake up in the morning, I’m like… (deep sigh) “Here we go!!” Haha! “Here we go!” I’m generally an optimistic person and he days that I don’t feel hopeful I don’t get out of bed. Fundamentally… hope.
To date, what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
Wheeeww… Don’t make me cry in here, Chris.
I actually spent the entire summer learning the biggest lesson of my life. Maybe the hardest lesson because it’s probably taken me 30 years to learn it. It’s also a compound lesson because it builds off a lesson that I learned a couple of years ago. Then, I defined for me what it means to love yourself. The definition that I came up with was to figure out who you really are and have the courage to be yourself all the time.
This summer I learned that sometimes being yourself and loving yourself get hard and you’re not allowed to stop when it get’s hard. “Lying is not loving.” I realized that I was a lier. When things got hard I wouldn’t tell the truth… even to myself. I’m gonna cry for real…
I was afraid. You know… when we have hard things to say then we’re scared that people are gonna not talk to us ever again or whatever. Everyone has a deep dark fear. Mine is being alone. (I think that might be everyones.) I guess a lot of people are like that.
I learned that Lying is not loving. Sometimes love get’s hard and sometimes love means being, saying and experiencing things that are difficult.
Every room in my house has a unicorn in it. That says something about who I am. I’m very pollyanna! Glitter! Rainbows! Love all the way! I want people to feel good and be happy all the time. I rejected the notion that love could be dark. I learned a huge lesson this summer. Sometimes love is dark. It’s still love and it’s okay. Those are the moments that you really have to lean in instead of hiding because if I’m really committed to loving myself, and loving is my commitment to life, then when it gets hard I have to love anyway.
If you want to be a honest and loving person… a righteous person and a person of integrity… sometimes it’s difficult. This are the moments when courage has to come in. Courage is necessary. When it gets hard and you get scared.
That is the biggest lesson of my life. It was a hard one!
What is love?
OOooooooooooooo!! [claps] I am so prepared for this one!! If you have not noticed, love is my thing! My company is called eLOVEate. I’ve built a whole career around love. It’s the most important thing to me!
I did a year-long practice around love, and I wrote about it every day. From doing this I came up with a definition of love, which is how I derived the definition of loving yourself as well.
For me, love is honoring the connection that you have with another in word and in deed.
It’s gets complex with you have to think about loving someone that you’ll never meet. There’s somebody in Bangladesh right now that I will never meet so what does it mean for me to honor a connection in action and in word? What if it’s you? A person you met as a stranger on the street. What does that mean? What if it’s somebody that hurts you? How do you honor the connection to someone and be loving even if they’re a horrible person. What if it’s someone that you completely disagree with fundamentally? Hitler!? How do you love Hitler?! What does it mean to honor your connection to him?
Then yourself. How do you love and honor the connection to yourself?
Actively honor the connection between you and whoever the object of your love is. Sometimes it’s easier to love that person in Bangladesh that you’ll never meet than it is to… someone you’re married to for instance. There could be hurt and violation of trust, but this dude in Bangladesh… easy for me to love him. Hahaha! So easy! Like, “I love you, mister!”
It goes back to love being hard sometimes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about accountability and also the public phenomenon of police officers killing unarmed black men. I know that most all police officers aren’t like “I’m going to go shoot some black men today.” They see someone and become afraid and that’s how they’re trained to react. They’re not having the mental process of “Oh, I have an implicit biases and when I see black men I get afraid.” That’s not happening. It’s just “Oh Shit!” and then they shoot.
What does love look like for us? Me as a black woman who is surrounded by black men in her life… I’m not angry. I don’t have that visceral angry reaction… and I don’t have it because of my focus and conversations about love. I try to figure out how to find a solution and resolution. Anger isn’t it. Anger would just end with people being shot and dead with no healing.
How can I hold the need for justice and the fact that you just did something that was unjust and need to be held accountable with the fact that we need to restore love, peace and harmony?
I know you didn't ask me part of this, but it's something that I've been thinking about with love.
About Anasa :
43 years old
Founder & CEO of eLOVEate
From New Jersey
Lives in Nashville, TN