Tonight I'll be celebrating my anniversary of onstage storytelling with The BTK Band, an improvisational storytelling rock band led my friend, Peter Aguero. They are something amazing to behold, all themselves. They have a great show lined up--one I'm honored to be a part of--and today, like many days, I'm straddling the middle space. You know the one--the huge cavernous gap between the confidence of knowing you've got a move to bring, and the vulnerability of being true or innocent or tender in a city that's famous for eating such people for dessert.
Big and small. Brave and vulnerable. Good and bad. These are the dichotomies that have ruled my life, and it took so long for me to learn that I could (or would ever want to) be both, to learn there is a place to stand in the gap that lets you hold all your pieces at once.
Good and bad is probably the last stand for me in this battle. This weekend I was thinking about how much of my life (most of it) has been about labeling or identifying the good and the bad parts of myself. This intel fed a massive engagement to hide the bad parts, hoping they would disappear if I shoved them into a dark enough corner.
I still remember the tears that filled my eyes when I looked at Jen in her kitchen last April after she did a Humpty Dumpty number on me--the moment between when she completely undid me and the next, where she would show me the way back together again.
I said, "It's like who I am is a collection of quarters on the table, and I've spent all these years and all this effort trying to keep them all heads-up, to keep only my good parts showing."
"But you don't actually know which parts are good," she said. "Some of those pieces you keep under wraps are the best of all."
In that in-between, undone moment, I knew what it was to be loved.
It's taken months of having this be the larger conversation going on in the background of my life for me to return to it again with new eyes.
A quarter is worth 25 cents, regardless of whether it's facing heads up or tails up on the counter. And so it is with all of our parts, pieces and endless complicated facets.
It's been revolutionary for me to consider that perhaps:
- my questions are more helpful than my answers.
- my vulnerability, worry, intensity, fears--all the things I want to keep under wraps--have their own gifts to offer.
- inviting them all into the picture paints a portrait of me that is more true, that is humanizing.
- welcoming our dark, unpresentable parts into the light of day is an access point to our own humanity--to our truest selves.
- showing up in life as our truest selves creates the possibility of deep connection--the kind of connection we long for.
This is what the Integrate Retreat in April is all about. Finding our own dichotomies and the way to straddle the middle ground, to hold it all: big and small, brave and vulnerable, good and bad--to stand and move through the world with the kind of gentle fierceness that our raw humanity makes available.
I'm inviting you into this conversation, and if you're in the area, I'm inviting you to the show tonight (Under St. Marks, 9pm). Come.
***Thanks to everyone for the moving comments on the Weekend Giveaway. Via random.org, the winner is . . . Lindsey of A Design So Vast. Congratulations, Lindsey! Email me at jen (at) jenlee (dot) net with your mailing address and your copy of "Lanterns" will soon be on its way. The rest of you will want to get the Light and Love while you can.