Do What Moves You

Let Me Live by Rudimental & Major Lazer — A perspective on love.

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There is a road that knows me. It is, perhaps, the most driven road of my lifetime. With every drive north, I learn to be free.

When I reach the canyon and begin the steep climb through Los Padres National Forest, then descend into The Grapevine — my being expands with the expansive view of the valley. Add a kickass new-to-me song to the experience, and I may as well be floating through sunbeams.

My typical route on the 5 (I-5) in the span of the last almost 20 years, has been from the southern tip of Orange County to the heart of Kern County, and back.

Not too long ago, as I made yet another drive north, I was introduced to a refreshing sound. If I had to choose one song to represent my Summer 2019, it would be Let Me Live by Rudimental & Major Lazer featuring Anne-Marie & Mr Eazi.

At 2:11 in the video for Let Me Live, an orange mini-bus full of dancing people rolls slowly through a shaded motorway, as Mr. Eazi hangs out the open, sliding door, singing. Behind the van, in the distant sunlight, are four billboards with the same message: Do what moves you.

In Summer 2018, the American music group Major Lazer teamed up with English band Rudimental, English singer Anne-Marie, Nigerian singer Mr. Eazi, and South African music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo for this song.

This musical collaboration is fantastic on its own. With an electric international mix of artists, there is so much fun and life in the sound. On a purely audible level, Let Me Live inspires freedom of movement, and lightheartedness. It’s the kind of song that makes dancing and celebration of life, irresistible.

Filmed by Chris Saunders, the video makes Let Me Live a full, euphoric experience. And the experience wouldn’t be complete without the lesser known stars of the video.

The video was shot in both London, England and Johannesburg, South Africa. In London, various shop owners and other locals can be seen as Anne-Marie walks along the sidewalk, or as shots pan out to show everyday scenes.

In Johannesburg, an epic day party takes place under a bridge, featuring some highly talented dancers and performers. Presumably a local dance troupe, the first male dancers to appear wear mix-matched everything: red and yellow, plaid, socks, and boat hats. The details of their costumes — which also include sunglasses, white shoes with yellow laces, and silk gloves — are as funky as their use of milk crates as props.

Aside from Anne-Marie, the females in this video — including the solo dancers and the rest of the dancers in the mini-van, bring loads of energy and fun and power. At 1:05, a glittery golden-faced Queen of Smoke (Stacey Lee May) appears in the driver’s seat of her pink car. She proceeds to do a standing trick as someone spins donuts in the motorway — shot in slow motion, fittingly.

Then there are the dancers who make an appearance at the bridge, to the vocals of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Dressed in jester-like black and white costumes and shiny face make-up, the tall, slender, effeminate men dance their hearts out.

Every performer exudes the attitude and feeling of the song brilliantly, which Anne-Marie sums up with plenty of spunk, in just 16 words:

“Leave me alone, let me live my life,
leave me alone, let me live it up”

As I drove north through the canyon, I thought about where life had taken me. Or rather, where I had arrived at.

After nearly four long years back in *the land of the free*, it had come to this. The most palpable way I could protest greed and hyper-consumerism was to live as simply as I could possibly imagine. Driving a scooter hadn’t been enough — though it had certainly helped. I needed to heed the call I’d been hearing to live a highly specific way.

Refusing to be part of the rat race in southern Orange County, I found myself on another drive north to seek refuge in my hometown. I would not be sleeping in the back of Gypsy the Sportwagen that night — a lifestyle I had taken up at the beginning of summer, as part of my protest.

I don’t spend every night sleeping in the Wagen. Most nights, I house and/or dogsit — work I have increasingly identified as a profound gift in my life, over the last year. One thing usually does lead to another. But on the nights I don’t work, I sleep in my car, most times parked in a friend’s driveway. Yes, my friend has offered, repeatedly, to have me sleep inside. Yes, she understands why I have, repeatedly, graciously refused.

This is an experience I need to have. I planned it, quite methodically. Back in April of this year, the idea came to me. I realized I had been spending most nights away from my home at that point anyway, and I was about to finance a car. I had been driving a Vespa for two years at that point, but I knew it was time to get something bigger.

I had long been dreaming of a station wagon, or an RV. Something I could live and move in, at the same time. Perhaps the seed of this particular dream had been planted when I was only six years old — when my parents drove my sisters and I all around the United States in the Summer of 1987.

Or perhaps my years spent living in the heart of Africa had influenced my decision to not have a stationary home. It could be that both of these experiences, and more, have shaped me into the person I’ve become. A person who needs to experience living in her car for a while.

When I can, a few times a month, I travel 150 miles north to my hometown, Bakersfield. I visit family and friends, I continue the journey of understanding where I come from, and I still spend significantly less money on gas, insurance, and my car payment combined, than I was spending on rent — even just renting a room.

Yes, I’m tired. This isn’t a sustainable way to live, at least not yet for me. I’m guessing with more practice and time, I’d get into a groove with this kind of lifestyle. But it’s an experience not meant to last forever. I knew it would be temporary when I began. And yet the knowledge it won’t last forever doesn’t seem to ease the pangs of exhaustion. But the rewards are greater.

When I first spoke with loved ones about the idea, back in April, I just knew I needed to go through with it. It was something I needed to do, on a soul level. I had been throwing around the idea to experiment with *homelessness*, since graduate school. Does that make me sound like a privileged jerk? I don’t know what the hell it makes me sound like. And I don’t know what this experience makes me look like or seem like. What I do know is that Rudimental and Major Lazer put the perfect words, and beat, to my summer.

“Why don’t you live your life, yeah
And I will go live mine”

As always, what is most personal is most universal. (~Carl Rogers?) The lyrics in Let Me Live are not just for me, but everyone.

The older I get and the younger I grow, the more I long for a world filled with people who can love without judgment. As someone who believes in God, the journey to this place has been a long and confusing one. But that’s slightly beside the point.

I do recognize that yes, of course there must be repercussions when people do things to harm one another, or animals, or the earth. Repercussions which I hope will be more holistic, someday. I don’t believe anyone is beyond redemption.

But when it comes to lifestyle — the ways in which we choose to live our lives that don’t directly affect others — we should be the ones to decide. Let others’ opinions be damned. It’s not my place to judge anyone, nor their place to judge me.

Our only job is to love.

Again, I recognize that sometimes love looks like raising our words and advocating for LGBTQ rights or restorative justice or a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. Or treating humans as humans rather than things to be kept in cages.

Politics and policy obviously stand apart from what I’m talking about here. Sometimes love does look like figuring out how to channel our anger about an absurd reality show taking the nation by shitstorm.

But, more specifically, if I want to live in the back of my car, and you want to live in a house, we need to love each other. I need to keep doing what moves me, and you need to keep doing what moves you.

“Are we losin’ control, or is it meant to be? (uh huh)
Now I’ve opened my mind now
Come on, set me free
’Cause I am the one, I rule my world
Nobody rule my destiny
’Cause you are the one, you rule your world
No bad man own your destiny”

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Yoga teacher, adventurer, storyteller happily based in California 🌼

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Yoga teacher, adventurer, storyteller happily based in California 🌼

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