Tell Me Who You Are.
(Yours truly circa: 1978)
I woke up today, song in my head, dreams still stuck in the corners of my eyes, remembering a conversation from a few years ago. This conversation was with an acquaintance, a friend of my brother’s who (like most of my favorite people) didn’t bother with the typical scripted pleasantries you do when you first meet someone. What do you do? Oh that’s nice! Oh, do you know so-and-so? Yeah, me too. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Instead, he played us one of his new songs, and dove right into what was on his heart. He was tired of people defining themselves by what they didn’t do. One is straight-edge. One quit smoking. One is a vegan. One doesn’t drink coffee. One is a born again virgin. One doesn’t watch television. And on and on. It’s what we do. But it leaves us––those of us who care––a bit cold and wondering what is buried under all those do’s and don’ts. I know we moved onto other things, and other friends came and went, and the stars burned on until morning.
The part that echoed back to me today was that longing to know the true essential core of people. We spend so much time slapping on the existential version of bumper stickers. This guy’s a vegan. That chick is a feminist. This one does yoga. That one’s a teacher. This one is a liberal. That one goes to church. You do this. You don’t do that. You have this. You don’t have that. But who are you?
What frightens me more are the definitions that are used to elevate ourselves above others. My choice is better than yours. If you don’t choose the same, I can’t accept you. What is that about? What if you let that go? What if you didn’t immediately have to define what makes you separate? What if when we met we left our scripts behind? What if we let the light inside each other merge for a few minutes, instead of immediately trying to figure out how we are different? What if instead of clothing ourselves with meaningless pleasantries, we were a little more emotionally naked? How would I define myself then?
I am curious.
I am brave.
I get scared.
I am arrogant, sometimes, but will argue that I’m not.
(I once did this by explaining the etymology of the word “arrogant.” Not my finest hour.)
I love to play with words, and music, and do intense things with my body and mind.
I get my best writing done when I am procrastinating (like right now.)
I have zero sense of direction. I get lost easily.
I sing all the time as I go about my day.
I’m too direct––it puts people off.
The people that matter love me anyway.
I laugh easily. And cry easily. And forgive, maybe too easily.
This past year has been wonderful, and difficult, and inspiring.
I’m not sure how it’s all going to turn out.
I believe in treating strangers like friends, friends like family, and family like precious jewels.
My kids teach me more than I teach them.
I love them with a fierce fire in my heart than nothing will ever put out.
I feel embarrassed and babble when I try to leave a message, so I text or email whenever I can.
I get absorbed in what I’m doing for hours at a time and continue on thirsty, or cold,
or needing to go to the bathroom because I can’t tear myself away.
If you need help, and you call me: I’m on it immediately. No questions asked.
We’re all weird. We’re all wonderful. What if we started a nakedness revolution and stopped wearing all those labels to define and separate ourselves?
Wouldn’t it be great if instead of favorite movies and bands, our Facebook profiles had categories like “Secret Dreams” or “Favorite Childhood Memories?” What if we used our social tools to build bridges instead of higher walls? What if when we introduced ourselves to someone new, instead of the same old script we told three true things about who we really are deep down where it matters? What if instead of trying to put my best foot forward all the time, I started jumping in with both feet, trusting that the people who belong in my life will catch my hands and help me keep my balance?
(Photo: Flickr in time)
So who are you? Tell me three true things. Get naked.
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