What that feeling I had to take time to find the words for was this: no, nothing is business. What I feel in my heart, or the area inside myself anyway that adjudicates that which is true and fair and just, is the following concept instead: it is all personal.
And in this (actual) country (not just the one in my heart) it's this concept that the personal matters more than the business that has become so inflammatory it's sparking riots and protests all over the country and even the world. While the central criticism of Occupy Wall Street still holds true-- i.e. the movement has not found a unifying voice to express itself in a more intelligble way-- I am beginning to believe more and more in the validity of the grass-roots emotional support it is stirring up even without more success articulating its goals in a cohesive manifesto. In some ways the OWS movement's struggle for a voice is the same struggle I face when I don't know how to put the feeling of the heart into words, the same as me not knowing how to tell the model: "You're wrong. It's all personal. How we treat each other is all that matters." In my life and in this country we're both bumping up against uncharted territory of the personal and collective heart.
In fact in a lot of ways I think that simple exchange encapsulates a great deal of what Occupy Wall Street stands for. In the same topsy-turvy way that corporations can claim the same status and rights as an individual, a flesh and blood human being! (an absurdity that one day I believe will seem as out-dated and risible as dunking medieval witches to get the devil out of 'em appears to be to us now) I think people pretending to be businesses is equally as risible. How can a person be a corporation anymore than a coroporation can be a woman or a man?
Be professional is the motto of the times.Professional image first and foremost! First impressions are everything.... But what does that mean? There are courtesies like being on time, which I think will never go out of fashion or appear as foolish as witch-dunking (although undoubtedly viewed then as a courteous attempt back in the day to stop naughty witches from killing your neighbor's cow), but I think allowing a boss or a superior to humiliate or terrorize you in the name of professionalism is an outdated concept. We need to live in a people world not a business world. Businesses should be for people, made of people, by people. Businesses are not people and people are not businesses.
Everything is personal. You are a person and you are here to make your way in the world and discover what feeds you, what fills you with joy, what moves you. Treading on others toes along your own personal path is discourteous and professionalism in that sense is good. Let there be rules to help us not hurt others in our mad daily dash to help ourselves. I think that's what Occupy Wall Street is saying, too. Not: "let there be no laws!" But rather: "let the laws help us help each other and help ourselves."
If a business is a person, and all laws are created to help businesses prosper (which let's face it-- they are)...what of the people? What of persons? And the sacred space of the personal? Soon the personal will be a tragedy of the commons-- a space belonging to no one and everyone where we simply dump all our trash as we go about our business, never bothering to stop and cultivate this space or protect it.
I've tried to make the business of modeling a personal journey. I volunteered my time a few weeks ago to participate in a sustainable eco-fashion show at the Javitz Center's Green Festival in New York City. Above I'm wearing a hand-made hemp gown, and I had a wonderful time working with Hemptopia Apparel on the show. But then yesterday at a highly-paid gig I was treated so poorly by a salon in a posh department store uptown that the ups and downs of the modeling business have left this person wobbly. My body is not a business. It's animated by a personality, and I need to take care of that person and be surrounded by people who feel the same way-- business or not.
Beneath the professional facade there is always a person. Always. And how we treat each other is always personal, or it should be. Because knowing the fragile human heart is lying there just inches below that aura of calm, professional certainty we should handle each other gently, remembering we're each here for the same reasons and not to bump into each other too much even as our paths cross and diverge.
Or that's what I want to try to do...and I can't really say why. I don't have the words yet. I'm back in that mysertious country of the heart where words come after feelings not before. Taking care of myself, taking care of others...I just know it feels right.