Intimacy and Activism: A Personal Look at Our Relationship and the birth of THRIVE

Sat, 08 Mar 2014 07:30:00 PST

Recently filmmaker Ben Stewart made a beautiful short video for The People’s Voice about Kimberly and Foster’s personal relationship — a different window from which to see THRIVE and how it came to be.

Read a transcript of the audio (to translate the transcript, choose your language at the top of this page)

Audio Transcription

Foster: …Kimberly and I were really aligned on “no there isn’t time for that”. We need to use the media. We need to get these messages out as effectively as possible to the entire world and as soon as possible. And then, we started working together as associates on the film and fell in love as we worked together. We really started as friends and colleagues and then it developed into a wonderful, loving relationship.

Host: The film your talking about is the THRIVE film. So, you came together for the sake of the film and the relationship busted out of that?

Kimberly: Exactly. Over the last ten years…

Host: You guys have been working on it for ten years.

Kimberly: Yes, That’s right.

We knew we had this shared vision and we liked each other and it just sort of evolved. We always knew it was going to be a film because one of the things that we shared was that we knew we wanted to use the media in that way, but we didn’t know exactly what the motif would be.

Foster: I knew from college that I wanted to make a film about what’s in the way of our thriving and what can we do about it, but when I graduated and was expected to go to Hollywood and make films and so forth, I realized I’ve got nothing important enough to say that’s worth all that money and time and hassle and technology and everything to do that. But, I said instead, I’m going to dedicate my energies to figuring out the answer to that question and, if I find answers that are commensurate with the problem — what’s really going on and what can we really do about it — then I’ll make a movie. I figured maybe it would take ten years or something like that. Over 40 years later, here we are.

Kimberly: We co-wrote it and I directed it and so, as a couple, we decided that our relationship would be primary.

Foster: And I’ve just come to realize that I am way more eloquent, more effective in my artistic expression, when I’m in a co-creative partnership with Kimberly than I would be on my own. And she said the same. And I think that really speaks to the dynamic of synergy, where the whole is way more than the sum of the parts. I think that’s a lot of what we’re seeing going on in the world now. As people are more and more working on themselves and fulfilling there own potential more and more as an individual, they’re naturally finding other partners who are doing the same and the next level of fulfillment is in co-creative partnership, so that the communication is a toroidal process. It actually is whole and complete. That was absolutely invaluable and I think one of the reasons why THRIVE has gone so viral.

“The most fatal thing a man can do is try to stand alone.” — Carson McCullers

Host: The greatest art form I have ever been exposed to is the art of Life. Some people say that you have to know and love yourself before you can love another. That other person says, “You’re not doing a good job on your own.” Catch-22, huh? You need to love yourself before you can love anyone else, yet the easiest way to get there is to travel that road together. To master an art form, you practice. You experiment. Explore. You fall. You get back up. Your partner falls. You help them back up. Mistakes are recognized, but not criticized. Accomplishments are celebrated, not boasted. You allow your partner to be your mirror, not your burden. Every move empowers the next one, never dismisses or diminishes it…to such a degree that every move you make in life is but a single frame in a movie. You don’t stop on a single frame because it feels good, nor do you skip over it. The old frames naturally pass you by (whether good, bad, or indifferent) and you realize that this movie is a never-ending process, an art form. You can grow with it or decay in spite of it.

Kimberly: I remember Alice Walker said, “If art doesn’t make you better, then what on earth is it for?” I think if a relationship doesn’t make you better, what on earth is it for? We’re all here to evolve.

Host: I met Foster and Kimberly in Chichén Itzá on December 21, 2012. Flooded with new-agers and old heads, speaking about the most coherent all the way to the most non-sensical things regarding the Mayan calendar, spiritual transformation, and the eminent zombie apocalypse. Both Kimberly and Foster were down to earth, eloquent, and simply two lovers living life and showing the simplicity of living from the heart. It didn’t take much to recognize that the power of their ideas for the world is rooted in the same love they feel for one another.

How do you think the film would have differed had it not been boosted or improved by your relationship?

Foster: I’d love to answer that because I have received such a powerful teaching of, first of all, the gentle power of feminine energy: that wild, chaotic energy which, if brought into art, brought into rational discourse, has a way of going to the heart beyond just the intellect, beyond an angry ranting male about how the sky is falling and so forth. Kimberly was the director on the film and she really helped me on the set, particularly when I was narrating the Global Domination Agenda section, to not get caught up in my own intense emotion about the destruction of billions of lives at the hands of a few people. She kept saying, “Come from your confidence about the way out and then just deliver the information so that people have room for their own emotional response rather than having to fight of yours.” I didn’t know what she meant at first, but she kept coaching me until, finally, there was a take that she said, “Yeah, that’s what I was looking for”, and I stepped off the set and most of the crew was in tears. They’d actually been really moved by this nasty information. That’s the power of that feminine energy that I think really needs to emerge back into the world now if we’re really going to not only understand and integrate what’s going on, but find harmonious ways out of it.

There’s a guy named John David Garcia. He said that to him, “Beauty is the conscious perception of objective truth being communicated to our unconscious and the greater the objective truth, the greater the beauty.” The reason I’m saying that is that one of the things that I’m really valuing from in our relationship is microscopic honesty. For a lot of people, that would be a very scary notion, but Kimberly has shown me that the more microscopically honest we are about sharing what matters with each other, the greater the space for love. That takes a lot of trust to really microscopically share yourself — what you’re right about, what you’re wrong about, what you’re afraid about, what you enjoy about, and so forth. She has shown me that she wants to know who I really am and is capable of holding that and even feeding back useful things without any shaming at all. For me, it’s like “Okay, I get to exhale here and actually be myself and improve myself from day-to-day because I’m in the environment of someone who’s loving me for my whole self, isn’t expecting me to always have it all together, but still seeing me as whole in that growth process.” That really came out in the film because we were able to explore such depths of fear and sadness and joy and unknowing with each other as partners and then have the fruits of that go out in the communication of the film. I think co-creative art and co-creative expression of truth, or communication of truth, is what I’m seeing emerging for us, but really I’m seeing it emerging all over the world.

Kimberly: I feel like what we’ve been able to offer is more clarity about how important it is for people to do their part, not all of it. I’m an activist from the ’60s at UC-Berkeley and the old paradigm activism is that you’re concerned about an issue and you just have to give your life to it and a lot of people burn out that way. I think the whole notion of being able to identify your own purpose and we have levels of engagement and distinguish for people, “what’s your part at this time?” And if you do that and come from there, then you’re in joy, what you’re offering is sustainable, and we got a long haul in front of us. So, this is our part — this is my part, this is Foster’s, this is ours, this is yours — and to really show that that’s actually the best way. That’s not “Oh well, we can’t do it all.” We’re not supposed to do it all.

Host: It took me many times over listening to these words Kimberly offered to understand why she felt it so important to stress doing your own part and letting others take care of theirs. Life lived in this way is less about efficiency and more about quality. It’s as if we’re placed on Earth in this body not to accomplish tasks like sparking revolutions and building bigger businesses and not to get better and faster at output and production, but to spend your whole life in search of and truly succeed at one thing: accepting somebody for everything that they are. It sounds simple…too simple…so simple in fact that hardly anyone knows how to do it anymore. We can build skyscrapers and put people on the moon…

“…of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind...” — President John F. Kennedy, May 1961

…Or, according to 6 to 20% of Americans, we can at least stage it and successfully fool billions.

Either way, it takes a lot of planning, time, energy, trial and error to accomplish all the scientific and technological advancements we’ve seen in such a short period of global history, but we give half-assed attempts at apologies and little to no compassion to ourselves. We’ve been so hypnotized by our brilliance that we feel the need to continually prove it more and more in a material way and yet we forget about the brilliance that it takes to let yourself fall in love, to support a family with your undivided attention rather than vacations and toys. That requires trust, a certain form of brilliance nearly extinct in our culture today.

But trust is simply a combination of you having a solid grasp on reality and owning it, understanding life at this moment and accepting it. That’s trust. If you have an agenda in mind for your relationship and you expect the other to provide you with happiness, security, love, sex, then you’re basing your trust on the possible future actions of someone else whom you obviously claim you don’t know because your pickup line was probably something like, “I want to get to know you better”. Why not place your trust in your ability to love someone. Then the trust is based on an ability that you know you have — to trust someone completely knowing that they will trip up, they will lash out, they will hurt you, and they will lie to you and despite these actions, despite the things that they do, you still love them because of who they are. If you can learn to do that with just one person, then the change is irreversible. You can do it with anyone. You have found the formula to life. You’ve solved the mystery. You get the cosmic joke and you understand what drug John Lennon was really high on.

“All you need is love.” — John Lennon

Kimberly: The connection between mindfulness and activism…I feel like it’s a natural thing to engage in wanting to use who we are on behalf of helping. There’s so much pain and suffering out there that I think anybody in a healthy state is naturally moved. It’s built in us to be empathetic with one another. The only thing that prevents that is a distraction of our own. As we practice our mindfulness and help resolve those distractions, it is natural then to express ourselves in the world in whatever way is right. And like Foster said, is that musically or through film or through nursing or through mothering or through whatever it is? There isn’t a right use of you that anyone can know but you.

We did a fun interview recently with a guy, Rick Archer at Buddha At The Gas Pump. He was talking about how he was really into meditating in the ’60s and I was talking about how I was really an activist in the ’60s and that he kind of thought the activists should just sit down and meditate and I kind of thought these meditators ought to get up do something and stop this war and we realized here we are now. We’re all in it together doing whatever’s our part and luckily now I meditate and now he has a show bringing voices out of people who are doing all kinds of things because we’ve seen that there doesn’t need to be a divide between those things.

Host: Mediation and action. Most of us are habitual on the action side. Less of us fall on the side of meditation and even fewer found the bridge less-traveled that connects the two. We mostly like things to be complicated, like a teenager getting bored of old video games when they get too easy. The passage through each level of the game gets increasingly more complex to make it a challenge equal to the one being challenged, similar to the ladder that a businessman climbs, each rung means added responsibility. We like this because we feel productive. Those of us afflicted with a need for producing results and being active may fail to see the value in meditation due to never having experienced the effects of it. Meditation is as important to action as the exhale is to the inhale. Everything you act upon causes noise to navigate your circuitry, echoing through your mind. Every new thing you experience brings the noise back to life like wind through chimes. When there’s so much noise, you can’t even hear the whisper of your conscience. You need to exhale. Too much noise goes in, little comes out. Some noises are ancient, childhood noise that never got a quiet moment from you to consider what message it holds, so it hides down in the basement of your mind to be brought up at an unexpected moment and remind you that you haven’t forgotten a thing in your life. You chose to ignore it. Meditation whittles down the noise and leaves you with a simple and beautiful message. That message, once heard, will change the world.

Foster: I would say the essence of the Thrive Movement is empowering self-creating movements. We never looked to create some giant organization that we were going to centralize control over. That’s not the way natures work and it wouldn’t work for this purpose. The core of that, the core of the solutions to all of the problems (as far as I’m concerned) is ethics — is fundamentally that no one has the right to violate anyone else except in true self-defense, if they’re being violated. In the Thrive Movement, where over 800 Solutions Groups have already joined the Thrive Movement from over 90 countries, the only two things that we ask of them if they’re going to be part of that network is that if they use the Sector Model that they use the same sectors, so that we can collaborate in a synergetic way without diluting the energy on a global scale. But, the main one is that their solutions need to involve not creating any new violations of anyone. That has actually filtered out a number of groups because a lot of people think that they have the right answers and so they’re going to impose it on other people.

For me, one of my teachers in ethical philosophy, Stefan Molyneux, said it very beautifully. He said, “Reason leads to virtue and virtue leads to happiness.” That’s an equation for the core ethic that we’re seeing that is, first of all, necessary if we’re going to survive much less thrive as a species. We have to find this core ethic of non-violation. Secondly, the more we align with that and the more effectively we communicate it, the more we’re doing it artistically, whether that be through compassionate speaking or singing or dancing or film making or music or whatever it is, it’s that core alignment with the objective truth of morality, of core morality, that I think is the essence of the Thrive Movement that will have it go way beyond anything we envision, way beyond our lifetime, because it’s real and people are claiming it as their own if it fits for them.

Host: At this point in the interview, the Thrive Movement began sounding more and more like a stage upon which the props and set are there to make evolution effortless and irresistible. Upon a stage, anything is possible. Any scenario can play out. However, this stage tends to direct your attention to what really matters. On this stage, you pay attention to the people, not the advertisements. Foster and Kimberly are aligned on the aim of waking people up from the hypnosis of placing the priority of possessions higher than relationships, a strange hypnosis that leads to a loss of purpose and meaning.

It always seems that the people who felt love for another human are the ones who understand the simplicity and the importance of approaching any evolutionary model or movement from the heart rather than the head. The head only takes charge when the heart knows not what it wants. But any heart that has tasted the real thing sets fire to the mind and reorganizes its priorities. Rob, in the Page family, says it best, “The head is a good problem solver, but a horrible decision maker…and that’s what the heart’s for.”

If any platform for large-scale planetary change is offered to humanity, its only chance at surviving people’s short attention span is by keeping it adaptable, fueling it daily with new inspiration. The same way a couple trims any unnecessary drama out of the relationship over time. Any movement that the people are going to stick with must be inspiring to everyone. And as we mentioned in the previous episodes, inspiration changes with every passing moment, which means that the model we would have to build in order to represent what we want to work towards would have to be instantaneously adaptable.

When you take something in it’s raw form, changing it is easy, but first, you have to envision the direction you must take to make it represent what you seek from it. Whittling it down, little by little, every little change you make you it uncovers something else you weren’t even able to consider until you made that adjustment. Each layer you peel back reveals unseen obstacles and unexpected beauty. It has to happen in a process. Each event leads to the next and then, gradually and consistently, the vision starts to dial in. What was once a raw idea has now been put through a process of art. The idea emerges from that process reborn, completely new, yet made up of all that is old, showing us that the beauty of any idea is hidden within it until the artist reveals it. And now, the wrinkles of age set in to tell the story that is being written right now in front of us. Every moment of you life is an alternation of the raw thing you were given at birth. Whatever you consider your life to be, however you choose to view it, it is a result of carving away and whittling down the story of the road you took and at every second, you have the opportunity to make a new road and change that story.

I like knowing that people this passionate for one another exist because I see where their vision comes from, like a mother who loves her child unconditionally, that same unconditional patience and adaptable attention is the only place to approach change on a planetary scale. Foster and Kimberly are just two people that can see the elephant in the room that no one is addressing and they intend to address it to everyone who can’t see it. And that’s most of us. They seem to approach the ethics of the Thrive Movement based upon the deepest lessons their lives have taught them. Humble and honest, it was refreshing to hear what inspires Kimberly every day.

Kimberly: I’m watching my wrinkly arms and hands and stuff and I just love it. I feel so grateful that I love it because I know the whole aging thing in this culture is just horrible for women. If you’re not young, there’s no use for you. Thankfully, I’m not experiencing that and instead I’m feeling it like my body’s this constant spiritual teacher because it’s so transient, like everything, and I’m watching myself kind of wrinkle out of it in some way.

Host: Again, it took me a couple of listens to get how many layers you can find in her analogy. The body is a teacher because it never stops changing. You can’t press pause and ask for a new one. You simply find ways to accept the one that you already have and embrace the fact that eventually you’ll give it back. So the very fact that you live your life through this thing you call your body — meat and bones, blood and electricity — from the cradle to the grave, you are still getting to know this thing, your body. Every time you think you have it figured out, it changes. Things your body couldn’t handle before are now primed and ready. Things it loved to do before are now painful. And then, it slowly slips away and you can no longer call it yours. Understanding that there’s only a short time to figure yourself out here, it can at least be a story you enjoy hearing. If legendary change is at the door, there’s no point in keeping it waiting.

And change is a family affair. When you change, the whole dynamic of the people around you will shift. Some people have let conspiracy theories and psychedelic rabbit holes become more important than exploring the mind altering and paradigm shattering force of the heart. Getting carried away in dimensions of morality, ideas of spirituality, and theories of the occult are all meaningless without experiencing them. Remember, you are whittling down the excess of your life to reveal who you really are and sometimes the only ones who can see who we truly are happen to be the ones we choose to love, trust, and explore this new road with.

Kimberly: That is the art of the struggle. It’s how to be both distinct and true to ourselves and truly united with another. That’s the dance that was a challenge for me. I think it’s a challenge in general in relationships and in communities and from country to country and planet to planet. How do you stay sovereign and still in union? I’m really grateful because I was so fiercely independent that for me it was much harder to just melt into a relationship and I feel like I’ve been able to do that with you (Foster) and I’m really grateful.

Foster: To have the honoring and compassion that a true lover is and that I getting to experience with Kimberly gives me strength beyond anything that I knew was possible and that turns around and has me take limits off what I think is possible for me to accomplish during my lifetime because of the strength and validation of this partnership, so I’m truly grateful.



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