#PurposeIs with Arielle John
INTERVIEW BY YARMINIAH ROSA
Yarminiah Rosa(YR): How have we not sat down and done this before?! The conversations you and I have been monumental in my life and I am excited to share this one with the Purposerosa community. Can you please begin with who are you and what are you passionate about?
Arielle John (AJ): I’m Arielle, a human trying to do my humanly best to bring more love into the world, which is really easy and flowery to say, but a lot of personal work goes into making it actually happen, moment to moment. I’m passionate about human potential, the performing arts, the dynamic energy of youth, saving the environment, spirituality and gluten-free chocolate cake.
YR: How do you live with purpose?
AJ: Waking up each morning and consciously deciding to be a vessel for light to reach the world. For me this involves spending the first moments of the day in some kind of meditative state. This helps me to remember who I am in the world, that I have a reason for being here, that I have a contribution to give, and that being able to listen deeply will allow me to be in alignment with whatever tasks the day will bring me to. Every interaction with other people becomes an opportunity to practice compassion, to show love. Life eventually shows you what your ‘work’ is in the world, and who you are meant to participate with, and where you are meant to give. Following that direction every single day is important to me.
YR: Finish this sentence with 1-2 words: Purpose Is _________.
AJ: Practicing (your) Truth.
YR: It’s important for me to offer a global view of purpose to our community because it not only educates, but it also fosters empathy and understanding for worlds outside of our own. While we are all human, I believe our understanding of purpose is colored by where and how we are raised. How has your cultural identity as a Trinidadian woman shaped your understanding of purpose?
AJ: Growing up in much simpler times where the focus was on happiness and more sustainable living, it allowed me the joy of seeing the magic in the everyday. A pre-cable tv, pre-internet Trinbagonian childhood (as the only surviving child of my parents) meant exploring the outdoors, meant inventing my own fun and committing to my own logic as to how the world operated. In this way I’ve been grounded in prioritizing my own experiences over what I’ve learnt from books or what other people have said to me as being true. This early sense of self-determination has opened me to life, has opened me to learning from everything, from every person. Living in purpose on this Atlantic rock came from quietly observing everything around me, using what works, and letting go of what doesn’t.
YR: Did you ever struggle with identifying or understanding what purpose is in your life? If so, please explain.
AJ: There’s the big overarching ‘thesis-statement’ part of your life that runs through EVERYTHING. If I say my purpose for coming here is to bring love to the planet, cool. I then spend as much time as possible thinking and acting in accordance with that ‘work’ of loving. Then there are the more practical “what the heck am I meant to be doing now” questions that we have on the daily, or seasonally when we’re transitioning from one way of living to another (e.g. change in job or career). Sometimes I wake up and I have no idea what my next move is. Sometimes life creates voids and spaces like that to make room for the next ‘thing’. I’m constantly learning how to trust that void. How to trust in provision and to remain in a place of gratitude and openness to all that I cannot see yet. The human in me wants everything to be solid and secure and to know exactly what I’m doing (shout out to the Aries people!). My reality is that I’ve lived through so many miracles and so much magic that I trust the deeper knowing in me that all is well, and things are moving forward. There are moments of uncertainty in my life, quite often actually. I learn more and more how to be still and to be quiet inside of it, to release my fears around it, so that I can listen for when it’s time to move into action. AKA to move in purpose.
YR: I so feel that! It reminds me of Tracy Ellis Ross’s quote: “I am learning everyday to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.” Speaking of where you are now, you grew up hella Catholic and have since developed your own understanding and mode of practicing spirituality. What's one thing you know now about spirituality and individuality now that you wish younger Arielle knew?
AJ: Hahaha. Yung Arie just needed to learn how to love and trust herself more. Everything I understand more deeply now are things that I’ve always carried inside of me. They just didn’t have a chance to grow and blossom because we’re often taught that God is outside of us. That God is found in particular places among particular groups of people. Yung Arie always had an issue with this exclusivity, but kept it going anyway. The moment I stepped into my truth, my world blew all the way open. I’m grateful for my upbringing, it has taught me a lot of things. I’m also absolutely grateful that I’ve been able to come into this new practice that feels much more organic, more wholesome and more truthful for me. Love got me here.
YR: As a believer in multiple lives, please explain your views on purpose as it relates to our current roles on Earth.
AJ: The planet is changing, and humans are responsible for some of it- but in my understanding, we’re just going through our own evolution as a planet. In all moments of change and transition, weird and interesting things happen- like President Trump, lol. We are finding life in other places, becoming part of a grander and greater community of worlds. It’s like the indigenous peoples in the New World when Columbus and crew showed up. We’re a tiny New World planet in a big ass galaxy that we’re still quite unfamiliar with. As for our role here in the now, we’re here to bring things together. We are here to use our humanity as the thing that unites all of us, as a group of beings on a planet. We are here to recognize that everything that separates us from each other is our own fiction in the mind. I see us now as moving the planet into a greater sense of oneness. Things are going to challenge us, resources are going to dwindle further and we are going to be increasingly interdependent on each other. If my work here is to be love, it is practicing inclusion, non-judgement, generosity. The world in transition will take its toll on all of us, we will need the contribution of all to survive it.
YR: Has your purpose changed throughout your life?
AJ: I feel like we always go through some kind of incubation period, learning, growing and developing into our purpose. To this point, I feel as though I'm able to place all of my past experiences on the map that led me to here. At some point, you kind of look back at things and recognize a pattern. You wake up and decide to become more deliberate and intentional with how you approach your life. Like instead of being pulled forward by life, you understand the inner workings more deeply and you finally get into the driver's seat. The road gets more familiar as you go. Your work gets more refined as you move forward. In this way for me- purpose has only changed in its intensity, but the direction has been pretty consistent.
YR: You seem to have always had an understanding of how your energy affects your reality. I always joke that the first words I heard you utter were you talking about the “type of energy” you carry. When did you become aware of your energy and how has your awareness deepened as you've evolved spiritually?
AJ: First of all, I realize that I say a lot of things sometimes that are probably just unfiltered/impulsive language cues around what feels truthful in a moment and I have NO IDEA what I'm actually saying. I can't remember where my headspace was at when I said that to you (circa 2011) hahaha, but as a teenager I was always aware of the spaces where I felt comfortable or not, the people who made me feel at peace or not. I became most consciously aware of my energy field only in 2015, when I seriously took on some research on how auras function, at a time when I was going through some massive emotional healing. Since then I've gone through major changes where my field is concerned, shifting from a more closed-off, irritable, victim-oriented field, to one that is more radial, open, and able to engage people around me in a genuine way. I didn't really have that ability before. It's not that I'm less protective of my space now- I'm just not as judgemental of folks as I used to be lol. Seeing light in each person and trying to honour that (however well-hidden it may be- haha) has given me a totally new perspective on life.
YR: Amen to the ways we choose to heal after major life shifts, because it is a choice. I am so so so proud of the ways you have evolved towards your light. What are you excited about manifesting for the rest of this year?
AJ: This year I want to move more deeply into my career-as-vocation. There are some relatively new currents that I’m exploring as a creative and themes that I’m set on expanding further in my research. I’m manifesting the time, space and resources to produce this work, and hopefully sharing it with the world. Yes, I haven’t said explicitly what I’m working on, but y’know...In time or whatever :) I’m manifesting more abundance and financial wherewithal to eat clean, clear student debt, invest in young talent and give back to my parents. I’m also attracting more love into my life, deeper connections with others and growing together beautifully with my soulmate. It’s a long list of things but these areas are part of my top three.
YR: The magic of manifestation is in the consistency and commitment to visualize and work towards an end that may not immediately seem possible or feasible. Kudos to you for even having a list of what you are manifesting, that is a major start. I’ve heard you mention spiritual guides several times. What do your spiritual guides mean to you and how do they relate to your purpose?
AJ: My guides are my Spiritual Teachers. Life gives us these tiny groups of beings that are here to help us on our walk, and they really want us to succeed in achieving our greater purpose here. It’s like our own personal cheerleading squad. You develop a relationship with them over time and they find really beautiful ways to communicate with you. It’s like your own personal language- dreams, premonitions, animals, numbers, whispers, synchronicities, songs. Anything and everything. I’m pretty sure that I don’t know the ‘names’ of everybody in my crew, but different spiritual beings (like humans) have different strengths. For example- Archangel Zadkiel is really great with helping to forgive, Eshu is good for help with decision-making, Kali has helped me to release the past so that I can enter into healing. They’re not gods to me. They are aids, and more than literally ‘show up’ for me, whenever needed. Those who spend enough time with me know that I always have these random asides of quietly laughing to myself, nodding my head or saying ‘thank you’. It’s because they are always there and are continually speaking, showing, pointing. Mad people behavior ent?
YR: Thank you for sharing that. Witnessing the consistency of your daily meditation practice was inspiring and it’s something I’ve begun to adapt into my life. How and when did meditation become so central in your life?
AJ: Meditation became part of my practice in February 2015 when starting a program called ‘Steps to Knowledge’. After working myself up to 1 hour each day in stillness, by the time I finished the program, it had become necessary to take the time each day to create that space to recognize the presence of God in my life. It is the way of opening the door to allow Spirit to move. Stillness plays a key role in being able to listen for direction and what I need to be doing. An important communion.
YR: What role does gratitude play in your life?
AJ: After meditation I always enter into a prayer of gratitude. It shows you everything, everything that has already been done. It lets you know that there is so much more that will be done! Gratitude shows us how the impossible is possible.
YR: You are one of the few people I know who listens to their intuition with such trust and obedience. Can you describe 3 ways you began to tap into and trust your intuition?
AJ: A karmic partner came into my life and showed me how very necessary it was for me to trust myself and not privilege the thoughts and opinions of others over my own. After doubting myself so heavy in this relationship and continually being shown how I should have listened to myself, I had no choice left but to love myself completely, to accept myself and trust that I knew what is best for me. In many ways, this was my point of ‘waking up’. Inner-knowing also came from the deliberate intention to create the silence for me to receive and hear all that I needed to. A routine of quietude. The body also gives us massive cues as to how things are subconsciously unfolding. My guides never let me down, and are always communicating/reassuring me. Learning how to ‘read’ omens, listen for guidance and follow their lead is always a process of surrendering to a higher and more fulfilling calling than whatever lil ole me can come up with on my own.
YR: What is one thing you have (either in the past or present) struggled with in living out your purpose?
AJ: LOVE. Too often we’re raised to think love is attachment and codependency and that people and things and situations will make us happy. Finding love inside myself and deciding to live in that light, regardless of where I am, what I’m doing or who I’m with, freed me to enter into my purpose. I had to come away from all kinds of self-hate to heal and become who I am now. I continue to heal and to love myself into this walk.
YR: You and I share the belief that we are all reflections of one another. The Arielle I once knew would never willingly talk to someone she didn’t know. Now, I’ve seen you engage in conversation with complete strangers quite gracefully and candidly. What a beautiful transformation! What has being more socially open taught you about yourself?
AJ: It taught me that I really love people. I love us! Hahaha. It reminds me why I want to serve others, it reminds me what it means to be human. It showed me how conditioned I’d been to think that I was ‘different’ from others because of what I had or didn’t have. At base level, it taught me how to celebrate sameness.
YR: Any books, websites or blogs you recommend for folks interested in learning more about spirituality on their own terms?
AJ: Yes! www.newmessage.org , www.truedivinenature.com , www.numerologist.com have been the most practical resources for me which all have their respective reading lists. I also understand very clearly that my spiritual path is my own, and what works for me, ain’t gonna be for any and everyone else, but these have been substantially helpful in my journey.
Arielle John is looking for the West Indian future. As writer, arts educator and cultural researcher, the millennial moves between Trinbago and its diaspora, attempting to discern her [generation’s] role in navigating a quick-shifting planet. Through poetry, performance and disability studies, Arielle works to make sense of her postcolonial positioning, by attempting to translate how Caribbean people have adapted to and survived their subjection. A Callaloo Fellow, Goldsmiths alumna and youth mentor within the international Brave New Voices Network, John’s most recent work looks at the ritual performance of divine femininity within the Trinidad Carnival. Click here for an archived playlist of Arielle's older work.