Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Some time back, I was lucky enough to participate in a project called Voices of the City. It was a gathering of local artists of every medium, meeting to workshop and diatribe, as we prepared a piece to present to our city. It was a blessing to me as it was the first time in my ilfe I had the space to really think about my creative process, talk with other artists and dispell the myth that a credible artist looks a certain way. I met some wonderful people, two of which were the facilitators, Martha Enson and Kevin Joyce from EnJoy Productions, who supported my shivering ass through each exercise and extended grace and the proper push to us all. One fine day, Kevin talked to us about crafting stories and the way in which we do that. We were asked to design a story based on a lie we told, or a concept imagined, not yet realized. His point was that we craft stories in ways that maintain our fixed sense of self; our perception of who we think we are.
While story telling is a critical part of bulding community and even individual relationships, it can also be our biggest obstacle to honoring and growing our true selves. We (and when I say we I mean I) have worked hard to build a self that protects us from threat, passifies our fears, and increases our lovability. The problem is that the charade goes on so long that we forget what’s under the mask. Our core gifts never get unlocked because the risk of un-fixing our sense of selves is too great, and too fucking scary to face. For me, timing and uncertainty are the main culprits. Becoming a parent in college meant other priorites surfaced, and the time to explore without responsibility was a thing of the past. If I could talk to my 21 year old self now, I’d tell that lovesick sista with the box braids to stop living under a safety net. That stupid net obscures your vision, makes you defensive and yields literally no benefits. In actuality, it handicaps you. Like the dog who grew up tied to a post. He’s eventually untied but remains in the same spot as his mind has been conditioned to accept the limits. I have accepted so many perceived limits. Frankly, it pisses me off just thinking about it. But there’s no one to be pissed at but me.
Having children does not excuse you from feeding your soul, nurturing your true self (I literally have to say this to myself daily). If you don’t, you pass this pathology on to your children. One of my greatest fears is that in clinging to my fixed, fearful sense of self, my children will live smaill, cling to complacency, and remain unfulfilled. Aww hell naw!
Stuck at home out of fatigue and frustration, I’ve internalize messages of success and self from media, numbed my mind with Candy Crush, and alienated myself from my loved ones. While the awareness of my missteps have helped, re-training my mind to live unfixed is hard damn work. If I am truly honest, I am wired to live in the unseen and high step through the human experience. It is scary and painful and worst of all, my destination always seems to change. I’m an urban bohemian with a day job. I got regrets to work off, stretch marks, acid reflux and I always fall asleep before I finish what I want to accomplish for the day. I’m on Zoloft. Poems wake me up out of my sleep, adding to my disdain for morning meetings. But I have to get to the office cuz I’m not making money off of my talent, which literally brings me to tears sometimes. These little tidbits live under the fixed Betty I feed in the name of survival. It grows less attractive because what the fuck has surviving really gotten me?
I don’t want to be fixed on maintaining. Ain’t no medal for mediocrity and safety. While I don’t have a detailed plan of escape, here are my daily commitments to a re-birth of the real Betty:
Write every day, even if its a cuss word on my hand
Forgive myself for fuck ups. out loud in a mirror (It’s awkward, but if I dont hear it audibly, it’s buried in other thoughts)
Listen to The Read. I laugh and I’m inspired to act up, speak truth, and be naughty.
Floss. If I have to wear dentures as a result of dental neglect, my soul will not recover.
Go places where artists are, even if I don’t know anyone. I have grazed in the communities others told me I belong to, but not in those I know I belong to. I create shit, that makes me an artist. So I’m going to meet some other weirdos like me and see what comes out of it.
Have you any other suggestions for me? What are you doing to find and free your true, hidden self?