Wow… I had to post this as it never ceases to amaze me how I stumble upon these things, at just the right moment. Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty low after I posted last, less than an hour ago. So, I googled TED because it always makes me feel better because, even if I’m feeling crap about myself, at least I’m still learning. I clicked on this video, purely because of the title. Today I am struggling with self-doubt and vulnerability and am haunted by my past and that’s okay. Glennon just summed up my whole day and a hell of a lot of my life thus far and reminded me that it is beautiful and brutal,”breautiful”.
There is a Spoken Word Poetry open mic night in town on Wednesday. I put my name on the attending list about a month ago. I was really psyched that I’d reached out, so proud of myself that I’d taken another step out of my solitary, secret life of writing. It was all happening, I was doing it!
But, I wasn’t. As usual I was talking about doing it. Yes, of course baby steps are important and deserving of encouragement but I am at a point where it’s just not enough for me anymore. I’ve been here before…
Not so long ago, I had a similar opportunity to push myself further than ever before. To take that gigantic leap, to be brave, to break the chains I wrap around myself and I got so close I could taste it. Sure, it was a highly intense time for me. I had just broken free of a relationship, it was Christmas and my whole life was turned upside down. Everything was broken. But, it was magnificent also because, all that was left was truth. My truth. Everything was so clear and terrifying. I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted. And I ran towards it.
My friend was visiting from the States and was concerned, as he knew my life was a mess, so he kindly offered up his last night in the country and invited me to the city for dinner and a supportive shoulder to lean on. At the same time, my brother sent me a link, informing me that The Moth was having an open-mic kind of event not far from where I was going to be that night. I’d been watching Moth stories online and craved to be part of it and now it was right here. I couldn’t ignore it! My heart exploded into hyper drive and I began to write. I wrote and wrote for every second of the next twenty-four hours I wrote. I wrote a piece so beautiful and relevant and passionate, it encapsulated my entire journey to freedom in a five-minute metaphor. I could see myself perform it, hear my voice speak it, feel the release I craved so desperately. I was ready.
I told my friend about it and was thrilled when he said he’d go with me. As a talented, successful, confident artist himself, I could not have asked for a better person to be there for me. He looked me in the eye and held my hand and told me to embrace the passion that was burning and churning in my stomach. Take a deep breath and speak my truth. I was inspired and was practically climbing the walls with anticipation. This was it.
As we put on our coats to go to the club, he opened the door for me and…I paused. My feet stuck to the floor and I felt my throat close up. “I’m going to choke. I’m going to disappoint him and myself. I can’t do this. I’m not brave. I’m terrified. I don’t deserve this. I’m weak, I can’t even move or leave this room, of course I can’t do this!”.
He patiently waited. He explained my choice to me. “If you don’t want to. Don’t. But, if you really WANT to, let’s go. It’s up to you.”
So, I stepped through the door and out into the rain.
We ran and jumped into a taxi and I kept breathing. We arrived at the club and I stepped through the door, threw myself at the ticket desk, drenched from the rain, frantic and shaking. I told the lovely young girl behind the desk that I’d written something and to sign me up.
We were too late. The names of the people to speak that night had already been picked out of the hat. Performances had already begun. If I wanted to go in, we’d have to slip quietly past the stage. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to interrupt someone’s story when I had paused to tell my own. That person on stage didn’t pause. They did it. They made it on time and bravely took center stage. I hadn’t. I had paused. My feet had stuck to the floor when I had every support, every opportunity to do otherwise and my fucking feet wouldn’t move and tears pricked my eyes. “I don’t deserve this.”.
All was not lost and I took away a lot of positives from the experience but if I’m really honest it’s still eating away at me. The organiser of this open night mic on Wednesday sent me a message to say I’m welcome and that I don’t have to speak, I can just go and see how I feel and listen to others. This is a fantastic opportunity to ease myself in gently, meet some nice people who are inspired by words, just like me. I just wish that demon inside of me would be quiet. Stop reminding me of all the times I have failed.”You have backed out of every, single performance opportunity you have ever been given. Even as a child, you quit everything, hid everything..”. Shut up Demon. “Why?! You’re shutting up enough for the both of us!”.
But, I suppose… I’m not hiding now. I just read back over what I’ve just written and realised despite the fear, despite the self-deprecating thoughts, I’m pushing through them, little by little. I’m not hiding, I’m sharing. When that self-doubt takes hold it can really fuck you up. And it makes me laugh because the piece I wrote for The Moth was about exactly this. About how you just need to take the step. Step into the fog even if you’re afraid you will lose your way. Okay, so I go on Wednesday and with some luck I will want to get up and read. Worst case scenario, I get up on stage and choke right? But, at least this time I will have made it as far as the stage. I will do it. One day I will be ready. In the meantime, I think I need to stop hating myself for not being the person I want to be yet. Trying is better than hiding. If you hide, you have only demons to invite to dinner.
I set up this blog space in January, with every intention for it to be filled by now with all the thousands of pages I have written. I was so sure that by now all those post-its and receipts I have scrawled on (and there are drawers full) would all somehow fall into place like an elaborate jigsaw that would finally reflect back to me a whole being. Instead of this scattered mess of distraction who seems to spend her time trying to catch fire flies without a net or even a jar to put them in.
I don’t like jars…or nets. Even when I was little, after considering the jar I would always decide that although I really needed whatever it was I wanted to see to stay in one place so I can focus on them long enough to understand them, I would feel so guilty and even ashamed that I even considered trapping the likes of a fire fly in a jar. That’s completely unfair, surely. I’d hate to be put in a jar and observed, even if people were in awe of what they were seeing. It’s a cage of judgement, confinement, a place where you keep knocking your wings off the glass as you fight to escape, becoming disorientated and ultimately less elegant and artistic and awe-worthy. Until, the observer gets bored of watching this once magnificent creature who danced and flitted about them capturing their attention and desire become nothing more than a stupid bug who can’t figure out that no matter how many times it slams itself off the glass, resistance is futile. Powerful human, stupid little bug. It’s an ugly example of how people can turn expression and art into something less than just by trying to hold onto it or possess it, judge it, label it. Whether it’s because of entitlement or the misguided belief that one person’s curiosity is more important than an others freedom…perhaps my feelings of desperate need to have things stay still for a moment so that I have time to observe them correctly and communicate what they really are to others is, in fact, what is really futile.
Nothing stays completely still. Especially, in my opinion, the most beautiful of things. Change is the most beautiful and captivating of all. It is endless. It is everywhere. It is within in us and all around us. It is, in fact, the entire point of life itself. Which is why I think I’ve struggled for weeks to come up with an introduction to this blog. Even I if I wrote the most honest and accurate introduction of myself, tomorrow, I will have changed and probably hate what I’d written the day before. I would be so uncomfortable with whatever box I had chosen to put myself into and immediately would freak out and start clawing and gnawing my way to freedom. Freedom from being misunderstood or defined at all.
The way that the fire fly spins and flits around us, darting in and out of focus and distracting us from the ordinary with tiny specs of light, is what captures our attention. That is where it’s beauty exists, where the art is. It isn’t supposed to be caught and confined because it does not have room in a jar to perform its tantalizing dance of light that inspires our joy. It is that dance, that expression that reminds us that the world, the universe we live in is beautiful and magical. But, as soon you catch it, confine it and begin to judge it, it becomes a sad, desperate creature, with no space to create its art. It will most likely spend a great deal of time fighting against its prison walls becoming less and less as it does, as slowly but surely it’s light will dim along with our interest and respect and then we will discard it.
It is now March and as I sat this morning, tapping my feet and biting my nails, I felt it take hold. That Iron Fist. The Iron Fist is what I have to come to call my fear, we are very well acquainted and I write about it often. The cold yet burning Iron fingers wrap around my heart and squeeze… All I wanted to do, all I ever want to do is write. And I really want to write this blog. I really want to open the curtains, open the window, let the air and light in and toss all of my writing out of it, in the hope that some kind, open people will pick it up, read it and feel it too. I know that no matter how much thought I put into it, how many times I re-write my first blog post, it can never be perfect. I cannot introduce myself to you all and encapsulate all that I am into a paragraph. I have so much I want to say, to scream, to ask, to discuss, to understand and reassess. All that I can do now, in the beginning, is invite you to sit down with me for a time and let me know, let someone else know, if you can feel me, in this moment. This is the way I am thinking right now, tomorrow I will change and so will you. I don’t want a soap box or a high-horse or applause. I want to sit down with people, on the same level and discuss openly what we see, right now or what we saw yesterday or what we envision for the future.
And, yes. I am scared. I am over-whelmed by self-consciousness. Even as I sit here, in the safety of my house in the middle of nowhere, where no one can see me, my cheeks are flaming and my palms are sweating. I am terrified. Not that my art, my expression, my writing won’t be good enough but, that by sharing or stepping onto a stage (whether physically or virtually), or calling myself a writer or a poet, I will be put in a jar, a box and my light will dim along with your interest and respect. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But as I sat this morning thinking about fire flies and feeling very sorry for any trapped creature, I realised, by letting my fear paralyze me and prevent me from writing I was placing myself in a jar and observing myself knock my wings repeatedly off the glass, losing respect for myself, losing interest in myself. I am bored of being afraid to express myself. Bored of dim lights and imaginary failure. Bored of this lonely garret.
So, here I go. Without definition or introduction. I am going to flit and spin around and around. I am going to throw my writing out the windows and live in hope that someone will catch it. And every time I do it will be different, it will change along with me and hopefully along with you too. That’s where the art lives and how you create tiny specs of light that remind people that the world is magical.
Just, please, don’t put me in a box because, I’ll eat it.