Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Little Brown Girl with Wings: Nilaya Sabnis

Has someone's laugh ever infected you so much that you can still hear it 7 years later as you are sitting in silence?

I love her.  She is Nils.

She runs her fingers through her short hair cut and smiles a grin that exposes her heart.  Her eyes twinkle with joy; or is that pain?  With Nils, you are never quite sure because no
matter what she is feeling, she radiates beautiful.

The challenge I present to the Sparkstars is to answer at least 5 questions.  Nilaya Sabnis answered so many of the questions with so much passion and intention, I had the most difficult time 'picking' which of her answers to share.

She inspired me with her words. My soul was touched.

Today, reading this, I was filled with so much emotion, I am actually loss for clever phrases and cute anecdotes. I am just going to pass the baton to her.

Please grab you a cup of tea and fall into this authentic dialogue of authenticity & vulnerability from someone I am honored to call a friend and sister.

"I am an artist...period."
Dang, it just hit me how so freakin' blessed to know such an amazing woman.

Nils, thank you for sharing yourself, your gifts, your talents, and your lessons.  You add so much light to this world. I am because you are!

From her heart to yours:

What is your name, where are you from, what is your profession? 
My name is Nilaya Sabnis. I was born in Bethlehem, PA and live in New York City. I am an artist. 

Who are you really? Describe yourself without using your name, or any attributes given to you by society and really think. Deep down, who are you? 
I’m a woman, a dancer, an explorer, a little sister, a chronic over-thinker, an eternal optimist. I'm on a constant mission to get to know myself so I can get out of my own way. I love with complete abandon and experience most everything with the wonder of a child. Anyone who’s known me longer than 5 seconds knows that I'm a passionate lover of food. I’m unfazed by uncertainty. I value straightforward honesty over all else, even if it hurts. I prefer things raw, unpolished. I’m a lone wolf, born with a strong sense of freedom, independence, adventure, and wide-eyed innocence. I believe that anything at all is possible if you truly want it and work for it and then let it go. I believe there is plenty to go around, that life is not a zero sum game. I’m currently in search of alignment with my purpose, for the courage to express my own voice as an artist. I'm learning how to engage with my depression, to turn toward it and transform it into fuel for art and growth and connection. I’m learning how to be more vulnerable and trusting in partnership. At my core, I long to connect with others on a soul level underneath the noise. I love to play. Usually the first one in the water. I love to swim with wild dolphins in the open sea. I love to sit quietly at length on the shore. I always prefer to be barefoot. In my opinion, life at its best is raw and real, and it might get messy. I'm a soul going for a ride in a human body. At the end of my ride in this vessel of flesh, I hope to have left behind something honest and real that somehow makes life better for others. I guess that's me. Hard to avoid societal attributes. 

What would you do differently if you knew that no one was judging you? 
I’d stop editing myself. I'd probably be making a ton of honest art already instead of all this thinking about how to make honest art. I would unashamedly admit my weaknesses, faults and fears of inadequacy. I would express my pain and fear in real time, as immediately as I express my joy. I'd stop feeling guilty about the amount of joy and freedom I experience. I’d own my needs instead of playing it cool. And I’d wear sweatpants all the damn time. 

What can you do today that you couldn’t do a year ago? 
I can tell people that “I’m an artist” without my voice wavering. It took me a long time to believe I was deserving of the title, so the words used to fall out of my mouth awkwardly with a question mark built in, as if asking for approval. Now the statement resounds from deep within my gut, it ends with a period, and then we move on to the next topic. It’s not a big deal. 

If you could ask a single person one question, and they had to answer truthfully, who and what would you ask? 
Future me: “What am I worrying about right now that doesn’t really matter?” 

What gets you excited and driven to achieve? 
The knowledge that life is fragile and this moment is ripe. Ever since I watched someone die, I’ve been acutely aware that I’m still here. I exist right now! There is so much to see and feel and taste and do and learn and love and create. I'm not wasting this. Also, sometimes my fear that I am not enough. But underneath it all, a deafening sense of purpose. I’ve always had a profound sense of responsibility to use the opportunity and privilege that I have to do my part in bringing our planet back into balance. But I want to do it from a calm place of authenticity, from my core. There’s something specific I’ve been built for, something I'm being groomed by life to do, and I feel really close to finding it. “If you work really hard and be kind, amazing things will happen.” - Conan O’Brien

What do you “owe” yourself?
Unconditional love and acceptance. This is a work in progress. 

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an anesthesiologist so I could take people’s pain away and make them feel better. At my kindergarten graduation I said I wanted to be “a ballerina and a truck driver”, and I’ve more or less lived up to that one. I think the anesthesiologist thing might come true as well, not literally since I didn't go to med school, but as an artist, I've found that my explorations tend to be rooted in how to engage productively with the inevitable suffering in life. Now that I’m 34, I know much more about pain than I did when I was 6. Some pain is meant to be “taken away” because it’s counterproductive to healing, and some pain is meant to be relaxed into and completely felt so you can transform it as it transforms you. My mentor Gabrielle Roth devoted her life to the marriage of art and healing, and I’m still discovering little pockets of wisdom she planted in me as I go on living my own life after her death. Next month I’ll be teaching dance and photography classes to young girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking in Sacramento. Instead of administering anesthetics as I thought I’d wanted to do when I was a kid, I’ll be holding space to play creatively for the sake of nurturing the imagination, which is a form of medicine in my opinion. But that's not the question you’re asking...

What is your greatest strength?
Fear might slow me down and trip me up, but it’ll never stop me. 
[Fear] will never stop me!

What have you done that you’re most proud to have achieved?
I'm proud of everything and everyone I have ever let go of. 

Describe the greatest adventure of your life.
His name is Neil. He’s opening doors inside my heart that I never knew existed, and it's the most wondrous, exciting, and (sometimes) terrifying adventure I’ve been on so far. 

What terrifies you the most?
The knowledge that one day I’ll lose my parents. This is profoundly terrifying to me. They are my rocks. I’m still their little baby girl, and I find deep security in that

What did your life teach you yesterday?
Sometimes you gotta take a nap, and sometimes you gotta forgo your desperately needed nap when your friend calls you up with free court side tickets to the Nets game at Barclays.

What have you done today to make someone’s life better?
I went to therapy (I’m someone too). 

Describe the next five years of your life, and your plans, in a single sentence 
I plan to live from my heart, to be courageous in naked vulnerability in the form of pure and honest expression of my truth, and I plan to enjoy the ride. 

When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?
When I worked up the courage to admit to my boyfriend that I needed him to pay a little more attention to me from across the country, I was way outside my comfort zone. I was genuinely terrified he’d be disgusted by my neediness, but owning my neediness allowed him to be there for me, so in the end doing the scary thing brought us closer. Also, answering this question with this response is outside of my comfort zone. 

What have you given up on? 
I plan to live from my heart.
I’ve given up on blind overexertion in the name of achievement. This served me well as a young woman getting an education and training to be a dancer, but these days I’m taking a nonviolent approach to life, practicing receptivity, relaxing, allowing. Yes, I’m showing up and doing the work, but it’s more of a conversation now; I’m listening to what's taking shape as much as I’m asserting my own will on it. It leaves things open to mysterious and surprising outcomes. 

My wish for the world is That love will win. That we can all learn to coexist peacefully and compassionately with each other, that we approach each other with curiosity and respect instead of fear, that we emancipate our women and let them stand tall in their natural power to bring humanity back into balance, that we all learn to love each other as brothers and sisters regardless of our physical or ideological differences, that all the children on earth can be carefree and play and laugh and dream, that we learn to take care of our planet and live with reverence for the wisdom of nature and all living beings, that everyone can live a life of safety, free self-expression and unfettered joy. 

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

VISIT and sign up to receive notice of debut album METANOIA, Hipnotic Hop releases, and The Spark Spot features.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love this because…