I’m conflicted with being a hypocrite
And through these songs you can witness it
The difference is that I admit this shit
‘cause I’m just like you
Walking the fine line between saying it
And living it”
I have quit writing more times than I can count. In fact, I have quit many things – and people – more times than I can count. I have avoided, belittled and stalled on amazing ideas and plans and I have been far less than I could be. I had gone into hiding and shirked my calling. I have ended friendships, jobs and avoided being recognized. I used to think that it was just a “commitment” issue that caused me to be unable to fully engage, but recently I heard words come out of my mouth that told a different story.
I was giving a long list of reasons why I really shouldn’t write to my son the other day. He got frustrated with the never-ending excuses and said JUST DO IT MOM. “I can’t” I replied. “If I do, someone will find out someday that I can’t always live the story I tell, and they will call my bluff and everyone will know that I am a fake and it will be horrible”. Openmouthed he looked at me and with thick eighteen year old sarcasm he said “REALLY, Mom?????” Confessing this to a young adult fully in the throes of self-discovery shook me into realizing how universal this fear of being judged is, and how limiting.
The next day I got in the car and plugged in music my son introduced me to from Seattle hip hop master Macklemore in which he talks about the difficulties of being a white, middle class hip hop artist. He speaks of the need to share your story and of the urge to create that goes beyond your own self-imposed boundaries. He totally gets the paralyzing fear that you are going to be called out on how well you walk the talk. He challenges us to honor the places we are contradictory so that we are more true to ourselves and liberate our creativity from self-judgment. Hmmm…..
I am often front and center in leadership roles that mask my own insecurities. I would love to live a quiet life out of the path of action but something keeps pushing me into it. Destiny, karma, or whatever, has given me the ability and opportunity to serve others even though I’d rather be unknown . I have tried, but I can’t fight it. I have this over riding sense that I am supposed to speak up and speak out even as I worry that someday the skeletons in the closet are going to have a big ol’ dance party in front of everyone I know. I still hear the voice of someone I loved challenging me: “How can you help other people when you are so screwed up?”. Said years ago, it continues to echo within me.
Writing in particular is a challenging and often completely bipolar exercise. Some days I get up so excited to write that it is all I can do to get through the day until I can sit at the computer. The words just flow out of me and the connection to a deeper wisdom is effortless. It makes me incredibly happy and everything is good. Other days the voices in my head drown out any enthusiasm with their shouting about how worthless it all is, how self-indulgent and arrogant I am. Worse yet….what a liar. I struggle with getting out of bed, much less with how to be my truest self. I am often not a very good cancer survivor, and frequently can’t find anything positive about who I am now because of it. Most of the wisdom found on these pages was discovered at the end of many a long road of hardship that a truly wise person would have seen coming and avoided like the plague. While I feel the truth in the words that flow so easily on those magical days, the reality of living them fully is often daunting enough for me to hide not only my gifts, but myself. What if I am wrong? What if I can’t? Who am I to say these things? For God’s sake, what if someone finds out I am human!???
In my all or nothing life, I frequently judge myself too harshly –if I am not all wise, than I am nothing. And if I am nothing, well, then that is just how it is so I should keep my head down and maybe no one will notice. Certainly don’t put myself in front of an audience who will all be there to see me fall.
But, there it is….I sit with the knowing that I am both wise and stupid, successful and not, and to live this life fully, both sides of the coin must be embraced. I do walk the fine line between saying it and living it, and am nothing if not a frequent contradiction.
Perhaps I need to remember the day I went to give a speech (for which I had paid a lot of attention to how I looked) to have my mom tell me I had chicken shit on my stilettos. We laughed it off after a cleanup and I went to the microphone relaxed. The speech went great -I came off as smart and funny and looked pretty good too. No one knew about the poop….and maybe it was just what I needed to keep me grounded and focused on what part of me was most important.
It would seem fairly obvious that we all are in process, and we shouldn’t judge ourselves so harshly for where we are not living up to the face we put on for everyone else. But we do. I have too many friends that agonize over where they think themselves a disappointment to others, who choose not to love fully or pursue their dreams because they need to keep their carefully developed persona intact. We are so aware of our own faults and mistakes that we wear them as a shield to protect ourselves from our dreams. It is an awfully heavy burden to lug around.
I challenge you to look within at the areas where you act as if you are less; where you don’t stick your neck out, say what you need to say, act on your dreams or love as fully as you would like because someone might see the contradiction in your intentions and your actions. Don’t listen to the people who scoff at how “you talk one thing and do another”, who question the validity of what you know, who hold you back because of what it means to them if you take risks. If we change ourselves, the whole world will change with us because we are all so connected. And if we call our own bluff and show the man behind the curtain, everyone will all be affected and called to a deeper place of integrity and honesty that will change all of us.
My confusion about the right path to take and the way I often flail around in my life are the same struggles others face more or less publicly. We are not diminished by our challenges, but fed by them. We all live lives of contradiction because we are complex ever- evolving beings. There is grace in holding both the wisdom and the idiocy, and true depth and meaning come from a heart that has been strengthened by both.
I am sure there will be many more days where I feel like a hypocrite and unable to live with the contradiction in what I am able to do vs. what I write about. I write this not as an apology or a public exposure of my weaknesses in order to cover my ass, but as a way for me to speak the truth about all that I am so that I can be more. I have written nearly everywhere in this blog that we must live into what we choose instead of into our fear not because I am good at it, but because I must keep reminding myself. We hide all we can be because we fear that in showing our brilliance we will also expose our dark. As the chorus to the Macklemore song goes, we must “light it up to burn it down”. And so I write today and each day to light a match for me and for you and you and you and you and you…………..
(Check out this amazing music….Macklemore \”Contradiction\”)