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  • Arielle Nóbile

Belonging Series: Casting Approach Revealed

Why Michael, Alicia, and Antonio?

It’s so hard sometimes to get the ideas out of my head and onto the page as to why I am doing this series. It’s easy to talk about it to a receptive ear, and my passion has only grown stronger after a year and a half of working on it. I want to share today how I came to decide to feature Michael D. and then Alicia and Antonio in the first two episodes of the series.

Michael and I had been talking on the phone about all the madness of what felt like the ever-widening chasm of us vs. them in this country. We had briefly talked about me one day telling his story, to help people be inspired by what he had lived through and how he had come to be his incredible self.

You see, I’d known Michael my whole life, since my dad and he met in college. But some of the more difficult periods of his life and personal transformation took him away from Chicago around the time I was 3, so I didn’t really see him again that I recall until I was a senior in high school. He came to Chicago on his annual visit, and this time he came to visit my parents and me at our home. My friend, Lauren, came over later that night. My parents went to bed, and Michael, Lauren and I sat up nearly all night on the back porch (something my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to do ordinarily),

and Michael told us his whole story and more. He opened a portal into my own spirituality, and I know he also profoundly changed Lauren’s life as well.

He and I have been friends ever since. I consider him to be one of my greatest teachers in life. And his story has shaped my entire adult life and the way I see reality. So I wanted to share his story with you, so you could also, hopefully, take away from it your own nuggets of wisdom and empowerment. His anti-hero story is just the kind of journey so many of us are on these days, if only we would take the reins to our own destiny as he so clearly did and continues to do.

Alicia and Antonio are two of my other greatest teachers and heroes. Also anti-heroes in so many ways: they are real, they are flawed, they are human, they are powerful. They have spent their entire adult lives devoted to liberating themselves and others. They have used their creativity, intelligence, and beautiful spirits to serve humanity.

I think what has made all three of them so important to me is their presence.

When I’m with them, I feel so loved, so seen, so accepted. There is this quality of total connectedness. True solidarity.

At a moment when I feel sometimes like our collective self-absorption is the biggest obstacle facing humanity, Michael, Alicia, and Antonio give me hope. They are all devoted to making the world a better place, not just for themselves or their families, but for everyone who crosses their path. And yet there is nothing holier-than-thou about any of them. All rebels after my own heart. All seekers. Seers. Visionaries. Making art out of their lives and their lives into exquisite works of art.

I feel shy writing all of this about them. It feels vulnerable for some reason. I guess because I know they might not agree with the way I see them. Maybe they don’t think of themselves in these terms.

Or maybe it’s the “Who am I to…” voice in my head that has squelched too many of my creative projects over the years. I’ve replaced that one with “Who am I NOT to…follow my inspiration…listen to the muses…allow the ideas that come to me to take shape?”

Thank you, dear Belonging community, for baring witness to this process. For being along for this ride. I invite you to meet these great teachers of mine, in the hopes that you too will be made better by knowing them and their stories.

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