What do I think? What do I like? What do I love? What do I hold in my hands like a wounded bird that I need to pay attention to? What makes me feel like I have teeth? What makes me feel hopeful? What makes me look ugly but feel happy? What don’t you like about me that I would never give up?
That’s what I forget too often, and that’s what you forget too often, and it’s time we remember. Who do we hold up the most over time? Who do we continue to tell stories about and replay and reread and rediscover? It’s the people who risked being disliked. It’s the ones who risk being ugly and inconvenient and selfish to create the life and art they loved the most.
We most see ourselves, the real and meaty complication of our interiors, when we see it in others, those who let those raw bits of themselves out into the wild to see what will happen, and that is the irony that twists what we’ve been trained to do on its head. All of the appealing, appeasing, ingratiating servitude we’ve been trained to see as our being so giving of ourselves is actually the tool that keeps us quiet, controlled, and cut off from each other, cut off from the kind of honest, vulnerable interaction that brings the most joy to people and communities.
The way we’ve been trained to serve often renders us as little more than machines that do given tasks, and it cuts us off from what it is to truly give of ourselves both to our own beings and to others.
Read the whole thing. This is absolutely where I am right now. And it so happens to hearken back to my favorite poem, The Summer Day by Mary Oliver.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?