by Tomas Transtromer
There's so much we must be witness to.
Reality wears us so thin
but here is summer at last:
a large airport--the controller brings
down planeload after planeload of frozen
people from outer space.
The grass and the flowers--here's where we land.
The grass has a green supervisor.
I report to him.
I went to a friend's gathering on Friday night. Heading in to her house, I grabbed my journal. Was I planning to free write on a trip to the bathroom? I didn't try to make sense of it. I just listened to the journal, which all but screamed, Take me with you!
We were gathering to celebrate a beautiful story my friend wrote. Each of the women present shared a little piece of her own, personal story - the one we carry in our hearts and scribble on all day long.
When it was my turn to speak, I realized why the journal was there. I was supposed to talk about my writing, how I have turned a corner of insecurity in my life and, still in the dark when it comes to the future, feel a subtle but significant decrease in fear.
Someone asked me to show something from the journal so I flipped to three drawings and passed them around. I was somewhat embarrassed. More pressing, however, was the very sweet and unashamed voice inside that said, Yes! Share something.
The act was akin to stripping nude for me because I draw pictures like this:
I think of myself as a dark and brooding person, because I experience my emotions very strongly. But when I draw, I get a glimpse of something very sweet and innocent beneath all the turbulence: (fyi, the purple elephant is not mine!)
When I was little, I loved to sit in my disheveled closet and sing. I still love to sing, and, much to my own dismay, I still create disheveled spaces in a matter of minutes. I was reminded of this when I passed my journal around, showing the frogs and rabbits and snakes that, at 32, I still love to draw.
In a moment of vulnerability, I opened the doors I had built around what brings me great joy. In doing so, I revealed what was beyond constraint. I held up to the light that which wants to be seen.
The moral of this story? Go forth and embarrass yourself!
Okay, maybe we shouldn't all run out to embarrass ourselves. Maybe expose yourself is a better phrase, but we all know that's not a perfect one either. Determining the right spaces and times to expose your underbelly is perhaps one of the dances of this life.
I am reminded of a poster that my friend's mother hangs in her kitchen. It is of a man in a trench coat flashing a statue on the street. The text reads, Expose Yourself to Art! I love the absurdity of the poster, and the underlying loyalty it proposes between the individual and the receptive abundance of art. Finding a safe space for all my emotions is, I think, one of the reasons that I write.
In the circle of people sharing their lives, I was reminded that when one person crosses a threshold, we all do. As Susan Piver says of the vulnerability of a broken heart, (or in this case, a vibrant whole one that I want to hide): That's where all the good stuff is.