December 19, 2012

What You Have to Offer Is You.

Source: birdcagewalk.tumblr.com via Julie on Pinterest

There has been so much to think about this week, so much to wrap our brains around.

I don’t even know where to begin sometimes. I don’t even want to name it. I do know this for certain, change is needed, new conversation and actions are needed to protect our children, to protect ourselves.

The events of last week remind me mostly of the depth of sadness, the depth of starvation in the world, and I think about how we can be better fed, be better humans who are more awake, more connected, more loving and more loved.

Recently, a friend shared this speech by Charlie Kauffman, the BAFTA winning screen writer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovitch with me and I want to share it with you. Because over and over, the things he says articulate the things I want to say. This perennial message is the one I keep hearing in my heart: The world wants our guts, our cracked hearts, our tears, our shame. The world wants our brutal honesty and mostly, the world wants the sweetness and compassion that is hiding underneath it.

And it is right here. That very important part of our humanity is here—in the process of creating art and writing our stories, in the way we nourish ourselves and our loved ones. It is here when we choose to consume kindness rather than unspeakable cruelty, when we gather over steaming hot bowls and laugh till we cry. It is in these creative things that we practice (and good grief it is a practice, because it is so very hard) recognizing and remembering that we can only connect through the places where we are soft and open and scared but brave. Here we are beautiful. Here we are alive. Here we are together.

Below is an abbreviated version of the full 70 minute speech. The beautiful images in this video are by Eliot Rausch . Following, I transcribed for you, so you can read it if you like.


So you are here and I am here, spending our time as we must

I am trying not to spend this time as I spend most of my time, trying to get you to like me. Trying to control your thoughts, to use my voodoo at the speed of light, at the speed of sound, at the speed of thought.

It is an ancient pattern of time usage for me.

And I am trying to move deeper, hoping to be helpful.

This pattern of time usage paints over an ancient wound, paints it with bright colors. It’s a sleight of hand, a distraction. So, in an attempt to change the pattern, let me expose the wound. I do know it is old. I do know it is a hole in my being. I do know it is tender. I do know it is unknowable, or at least, inarticulateable.

I do believe you have a wound too. I believe it is both specific to you and common to everyone. I do believe it is the thing about you that must be hidden and protected. It is the thing that is tap danced over, five shows a day. It is the thing that won’t be interesting to other people if revealed. It is the thing that makes you weak and pathetic. It is the thing that truly, truly, truly makes loving you impossible.

It is your secret. Even from yourself.

But, it is the thing that wants to live.

It is the thing from which your art, your dance, your composition, your philosophical treatise, your screenplay is born.

People all over the world spend countless hours of their lives every week being fed entertainment in the forms of movies, TV shows, newspapers, YouTube videos, the Internet. And it’s ludicrous to believe that this stuff doesn’t alter our brains. And it’s also equally ludicrous to believe that at the very least this mass distraction and manipulation is not convenient for the people who are in charge.

People are starving.

They may not know it because they are being fed mass produced garbage. The packaging is colorful and it’s loud. But it’s being produced in the same factories that make Pop Tarts and iPads, by people sitting around thinking, “What can we do to get people to buy more of these?” And they’re very good at their jobs. But that’s what it is you’re getting, because that’s what it is they’re making. They’re selling you something. And the world is built on this now. Politics and government are built on this. Corporations are built on this. Interpersonal relationships are built on this.

And we’re starving. All of us. And we’re killing each other, and we’re hating each other. And we’re calling each other liars and evil because it’s all become marketing and we want to win, because we’re lonely and empty and scared. And we’re led to believe that winning will change all that.

The world is very scary now. It always has been. But something very grotesque and specific to our time is blanketing us. We need to see that it is not reality. It is a choice we are making or allowing other people to make for us.

Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work.

What I’d like to express is the notion that by being honest, thoughtful and aware of the existence of other living beings, a change can begin to happen in how we think of ourselves and the world and ourselves in the world.

We are not the passive audience for this big, messed up power play. We don’t have to be. We can say who we are. We can assert our right to existence. We can say to the bullies and con men, the people who try to shame us, embarrass us, flatter us, to the people who have no compunction about lying to us to get our money, to get our allegiance, that we are thinking, really thinking about who we are. And we will express ourselves.

And with this, other people won’t feel so alone.

I want to tell you that I have a hope. That there is another way to be in this world. And with courage and vulnerability and honesty, that the stuff we put into the world can serve a better purpose.

What I have to offer is me.

What you have to offer is you.


Ed: Kate B

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