There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you. -Maya Angelou, poet (b. 1928)
There is nothing quite like a childhood lived in shame. Parents who never understood and never will understand that their hopes were disappointments, their guidance – lessons in shame, and their love a guilty weight. I have lived being ashamed of who I am throughout my life, and it is within only the last few years that I have began to see my own filter. My progress in shame has given me expertise, and I sense it like a sonar ripple from those around me. I have used it to gain access to the heart, and as a way to command obedience. It is easy to inflict shame when you know it so well. And so I have a number of relationship built around shame except one. I have let those relationships define my life.
The world makes it clear that women are shameful, and as a girl I was often imprinted so. My father was ashamed I wasn’t a boy, and I spent most of my life trying to make up for it. My mother was ashamed I wasn’t a porcelain doll. I spent my entire life fighting her over it. My friends were ashamed of the way I dressed (baggy), and my best friend told me to feel shame for it because they all did. To this day I still have one friend who insist that I wear a push up bra, put on makeup, straighten my posture and get with the program. I look at her and I am no better, shaming her for being such a blind conformist. Women have embraced the culture of shame, shaming each other until self destruction. We live to antagonize each other. We have become so good at it, it is not a conscious part of our behaviour. When will I be able to share the same space with my friend and we are able to mutually accept our differences and not bombard the other to change?
I can’t tell you much about why people shame each other but I just know they do. A long time ago I tried to escape from my life and my family but I ended up 60,000 miles from home with so much sadness and shame that I was dizzy from crying for 5 hours. My body felt like a towel wringing itself tight and hard. It was trying to squeeze out shame like a cancerous virus, forcing every last drop out the sockets of my eyes. At 7am I decided that I could keep going or I could forgive myself. The act of forgiveness is such a conscious choice it took every effort in my spongy brain to choose to see life with forgiveness rather than not. Forgiveness does not just happen. It doesn’t come to you, you go to it.
We’re all ashamed of something, but vary in the different amounts we carry. I live with a specimen that compared to me has no real gauge of shame. I have to spell shame out like simple words forgotten from disuse. And though his positively and lack of shame can split us from seeing eye to eye, most of the time I couldn’t be more appreciative that I do not have to feel ashamed of myself around him. He gives himself permission to execute goals despite fears and shame and inexperience. Though I judged his unwavering optimism, he does not take on shame and only advances where most hesitates because of it. He has given me permission to live without shame of who I am. I have only been crossing off wants and accomplishing lifelong regrets since then. It has made me become more optimistic, a gift that is resilient. He is both my opponent and my hero in shame. He is a bridge across the past letting me cross to the present with more ease.
He is not ashamed of me. I am ready to be too.
“I wish everyone could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of so they would know that’s not the answer.” – Jim Carrey.
A single offer. A clap, an “mmm” with the lips. Letting the offer go. Seeing it be caught, or thrown (towards another), or dismissed as a whole. A lean. A slight look, a subtle touch on the elbow. Taking hints of what’s unsaid. Never knowing how to make the agreement unfold. Microcosmic gestures dancing infinitely. Flirting together for a single purpose. A group becomes a whole. An individual a piece of a running clock. Uniformity, diversity, humanity, and beautiful spontaneity. So much laughter grows from spirits at work. This is play without any reason but play. We are play. We become we from playing. How would I have predicted it could be like this. One method is never the end all be all. I have failed before but this has taught me I always win when I fail. Except for the time I gave two answers that definitely weren’t alligators and canoe. But hey, so far so good.
There is something almost devastating about being in an adequate stable mood for an adequate amount of time. There are no highs to look forward to, and no lows to overcome. Just surviving adequately and peacefully. Having just enough. Doing just so. As if life has stopped moving for you and yet goes on moving around you.
There is no past to think about because the present has lasted so long it pushes the past out. There is no future to think about, because the future stretches further and further away from you everyday. There is only adequacy. Nothing more / nothing less.
What will you make of this time of ease, solitude and stability? It is a paradox to think that having time, resource and emotional consistency will equal growth, discovery. The human is so strange. It needs struggle. Without struggle and resurgence, the sprite dies. Adequacy kills the human faster than peril, challenges, and unrestrained habits. Embrace a life of discomforts, disadvantages and casinos of misfortunes. Our failures are the world’s sweetest trophies if we conquer them in the end.
Embrace pain and loss as most would towards love. Muse at liver infections and lonely floor crying alike. Enjoy what you suffer, when you suffer and why you have been suffering. This will age you and your eyes like a warm burning fireplace. The best and also the worst people are those who have suffered the utmost. The people in between are just pleasantly annoying.
For a new beginning of a year, I leave this for those who have been trying to go after the intangibles.
“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth.
So what the hell, leap.” – Cynthia Heimel.
And yes I read it in the Oprah Magazine because I’m 40. On the inside.
I grew up and learned that today I could no longer paint in broad strokes and messy outlines and still get away with it. The meticulousness needed for great art is suddenly outside of my parameters and I stood in averages and failures all around. She wouldn’t read me his notes. I played it off like I understood but I really didn’t. I wish she could have told me just how bad it was.
Where do I begin to find the details, when I’ve never bothered looking before? How do I expand when every step seems to be a faulty collapse? I’m lost in my own abyss, yet unaware what part of me is upholding it.
Act natural in an unnatural circumstance. Relax. Breathe. Don’t be afraid of the giant monsters. Walking over cliffs and waterfalls on tight ropes while I’m told I should be as at ease as a gliding swan. I’ve got cortisol practice.
I’m exhausted from wanting 50 different things in 50 seconds, learning 30 things in 30 minutes, and hearing my neighbor take every opportunity to preach on a soapbox about how things should be . He doesn’t understand that when the others joked they didn’t miss him during his vacation, they meant it.
This preparatory type of art requires clarity, peace and meticulous execution. Why can’t I stop trying to embody it.
90 percent of success is showing up but you have to show up for a very long time. Every week I get to sit in “art” class and hear about three hours worth of criticism. Mind you this is the positive kind of criticism. The kind you’d only hear in group therapy, and here. Our produced art works are not up for class discussion only cold mechanical review from ourselves. The teacher always yields a laundry list of mountains to over climb from each participant on their art. Inciting change is such an incrediblely laborious struggle but it always begun with awareness. Intense, disgusting awareness. Like reverting back to hideous screaming newborn, the class and I are forced to face our work with grotesque, up close dissection. This dissection of ourselves and our work is scary to confront. Each class everyone’s beautiful skin is stripped for three hours leaving only bloody organs and skeleton eyeballs. Leaving only the reality of our feelings, wants, desires, flaws, and gaping imperfections. We show up not to soar ambitioudly, but to fail and understand to exactly what decimal of failure we have fail at. And because we paid for it. The classes are suppose to create a defence mechanism against failures by indifference and intelligence. But no one is indifferent. I am always disappointed. With myself, my works, my progress. I care too much to let go and know too little to attempt being brave. And that is why I went there. To practice my assaults despite my ineffective means. To go against survival instinct. To know that I will be slaughtered but to stand and bare it anyway. I am not having any success except the success of showing up. I am just enduring.
You have to know it beyond knowing it.
I use to think that sharing an experience, or giving an experience worth remembering was one of the most important things I can do as a person. That life was wasted if I didn’t live in the moment and fuel the momentum. Recently I’ve began to feel that it more important for me to like the definition of who I defined myself as.
I’ve had the opportunity in the last few weeks to work at 4 jobs and take a class. It was incredibly rewarding because I was so busy I didn’t have space for the typical daily hardships that weighted me down. I was high off sleep deprecation and everything felt light and clear. I always knew what I had to do in every moment and what was coming up. I had 17 hour work days at my worst and 11 at my best. I felt unstoppable.
I became part of the group of people I never thought I would be apart of. The 6am commuter group. The ones who would walk in a tired manner, and wear long heavy clothing to protect their bodies from the early morning misery. I felt like a kid in the adult world.
Pushing, trying, saying yes to everything, taking in the work without limit. Flying.
But it doesn’t last, I can’t make it last forever. At some point a lull occurs and I got to see myself in an apartment that doesn’t quite look like anyone really lives there, or in a car ride off to the sun set and wondering if it ever gets any better than this? And feeling like the answer might be no.
I found myself talking about the future a lot. That someday, it was going to change. That someday I would find the right fit, the right circumstance but with a hesitation because I had been saying it for so long.
There will always be jobs, and sunsets, and discussions, and sleep deprivation. And they will be there long after I’m gone. If I let myself become defined by only those things. I will eventually discover those things don’t matter all that much and therefore I don’t matter all that much.
It was much important to define from the inside out than from the outside in. I am not my job(s), I am not the sun sets, and I am not my sleep deprivation.
I am a living, feeling entity. I am helplessly connected to the world at large and the universe whether I know it or not. It is in the best interest of the living world for me to develop my empathy, diligence and understanding. Along with that a liking of who I sense myself to be. Two ways to do that is to realize everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has felt incomplete at some point in their life whether it is evident to others or not. And if I make an unintentional error that everyone else makes, I need to forgive myself immediately.
It is more important to define yourself and actively choose to have the experiences you want, than to experience the fate of the world at large and base who you are off the occurrence of anything.