Some days, no matter who we are or what our circumstances, are fragile. Some days, for each of us, require such gentle handling that we perch on the precipice of falling, at risk even to the mildest of stimuli.
So let us be gentle with each other--even when we're having the easiest, the fiercest of days, we never know what fragility, what gremlins lie in wait for those we come across.
Many of us have learned the hard lesson of putting on a brave face, a calm face even in the midst of great battles.
We live under this illusion that we must always improve, that we must always do better, work "on ourselves" (whatever that means). All that litany does is remind us that we're not perfect, that perfect is a goal we should strive toward, and negates, more or less, anything we've done in the past or do now.
It's a silly occupation, corporate/Puritan-designed busywork to keep us, I think, from enjoying what we have, what we do, what we've achieved, and, heck, who we are. We aren't meant to work toward being a better version of ourselves--how insulting is that? We're here to pursue curiosity and passion and love and beauty and kindness, and if we can do even one of those things each day, we're doing just fine.
And you know what? Even on the days we don't, even on the days we're less kind, less inspired, less curious, well, hell. We're pretty damn good versions of ourselves on those days, too. We have to live authentically, and if we can do that with transparency and truth and kindness,...
I don't know if we're ever truly ready to stop hiding. It's like those mornings when you say aloud, "Get up, Amy," over and over because nothing else is going to spring you from bed.
Coming out of hiding necessitates the same impulse, the same self-talk (though not self-discipline--I think that harsh taskmaster and I have parted ways for good...talk about an unequal relationship...).
Don't get me wrong--being seen is, can be, terrifying. But if we all chose to be seen, to be transparent, where's the fear? And how distributed the power?
Last night I dreamt that I was walking through some foreign city, naked, and neither the nakedness nor the foreignness bothered me.
Shakespeare wrote, in Richard III, "Talkers are no good doers." I've always loved that, and I've always used it to remind myself that I don't need to fill space, that there's nothing wrong with quietly going about, getting on with my work. Silence, after all, can be far more profound--we don't have words for everything (and, really, thank goodness for that).
In silence we not only find ourselves, but we meet ourselves, sometimes for the first time after a long absence. That may not always be a comfortable reunion, but in time, it will resolve itself joyfully.
That is, if we don't talk ourselves out of the journey first.
Hope is our dearest possession--easy to come by when we're small, harder and harder to find as we get older. And though it seems easier to give up, to give in to pessimism and the so-called reality born of experience, it isn't. It isn't easier to live without hope. Yes, of course we'll meet with disappointment, but wouldn't it be better for our health *not* to assume the worst? Prepare, certainly, but not out of fear or expectation, but out of personal responsibility and common sense.
But keep hope. Without it we will flounder and flail and become something substantially less than human.
You bring your uniqueness to the table every day. You don't have to define it; you don't have to know how you're different than anyone else. You can just assure yourself that, simply by being here, you meet the criteria. To be wondering constantly why and what for and how is to trap yourself in a bubble of distorted self-reflection when you could be spending that limited energy elsewhere.
Just assume your right to be here and take comfort in the fact that someone, somewhere thought you were the perfect match to this incarnation. There is power and freedom in that belief, that belonging.
A dear, wise friend--one who knows me and all my neurosis and history and loves me still--said to me that we are too old to continue to believe that there are things we *should* do. It was the most freeing gift I've ever been given and exactly what I needed to hear.
So, to pay it forward, I'm telling you now that aside from keeping yourself and those who depend on you alive and healthy, there is very little else you should do that you truly don't want to. We've been slaves to the 'should' for our entire lives. We're too old to buy into that limiting belief, and so let's grant each other the permission to live freely, to live with heart, to rest and to be lazy or active at will, to travel or not, to be brave or frightened, to be creative or appreciative of creativity, with no guilt and no regret and absolutely no should's.
I think I've decided to rely on full disclosure more often than not. You know, when appropriate. Perhaps if I stop acting as if something isn't bothering me when it is, when asked, I'll tell the truth. Perhaps we're all alike in our neurosis, that as different as they may be from one another, they don't need to separate us. Perhaps, if we could speak them aloud, we'd all fit like a puzzle, filling in strength where others lack it, shoring up worries by those who have been where we are.
Perhaps if we were all just simply, and without drama, transparently honest with each other, we'd all sleep better at night.
There is such harmony here, the more we can breathe together, sing together, laugh together. I was just thinking the other day that I have no idea how long it's been since I really laughed--the gasping for air, tear producing kind of laughter. Years, maybe. And that is such a loss, because I think it's indicative of the weight of the times in which we live. Laughter is generally a group activity, and I don't see many of us with energy to spare these days.
So it seems to me that we ought to make that kind of energy a priority around here--more music, more laughter, and ease off the heaviness anywhere we can. We ought to be here for more than our own survival.
It's a necessary practice, and one we engage in annually because it is so healing, because it is so uniting. And not just uniting us with each other, but with ourselves, with the cellular memory of what it was like, once, to be taken care of and loved utterly and without condition.