Shan is back with a poignant post about allowing those around us the space and freedom to be and speak who they are. Enjoy.
Last week I sat in a hushed little music hall and listened to Ruth Moody’s lilting voice croon some very honest, self-penned lyrics. I cried when I heard things I have longed to say but dared not. I alternately comforted and chided myself while sitting there in the dark about both the times I’ve tried to dare honesty aloud and all the times I haven’t. I envied her the chance to stand on a dark stage and form the shape of a heart in word pictures for all to try to understand.
And yet there’s this: “I sometimes hold it half a sin to put in words the grief I feel, for words like nature half reveal and half conceal the soul within”. Tennyson’s anguish when expressing loss is relevant to even my minor moments on private stages, too. We speak and tether ourselves inexorably to our own explanations of who we are. Our very attempts to bare ourselves end up limiting what people can understand of who we are and open us up to rejection or ridicule. We talk and regret it. We keep quiet and long to share. But, oh, the intoxicating idea of being understood and how it keeps coaxing us out again and again to risk all and speak!
I lay in bed after the concert thinking of all I want to be able to be fully honest about, all I long to feel safe enough to say. When I fell asleep, I dreamed I was trying to talk to a friend and he just kept telling me to be quiet. I woke up and felt trapped inside myself. The thousand nuances of what I feel and dream and fear and remember suddenly felt further down the bucketless well than ever.
Clearly there was some blue, rain-on-roof mood mixed in with a fair dose of self-pity and a lot of overthinking here. I am not unaware. But here’s where it all took me: am I – who have sung to cold stars with Adam Duritz, “Pull me out from inside” – helping the people I say I love feel safe enough to try to breathe out who they are?
‘Friend’ shouldn’t have to mean ‘person I am noisy around’, and certainly I am intrigued by the idea of someone it’s comfortable to be quiet around; but there is something to be said for loving someone enough to let them…just….run their mouth.
I’m not sure how many pieces of bread on the water I honestly bother to patiently follow back across the lake to find the person alone on the dock, tossing them on the waves. My boys sing whale song in the depths of deep seas; how many times a week do I hold my breath and dive in and stay underwater long enough to let them sing to me? My girl is a twittering bird, darting from branch to branch; how often am I following her through the forest of her random thoughts to give her the chance to nestle down into the weighty topics she flits around? It’s heartbreaking to think of the people I love feeling trapped inside themselves.
Ruth didn’t sing my favorite song of hers, We Could Pretend, last week at the show. This is line from that song that whispers of that quiet desperation of feeling contained that way:
We could bottle it inside
Keep the lid on good and tight
But at some point in the night
It’s gonna to start to spill
I long for the safety and bravery to stand on all my private stages and sing my heart honestly. My mind is thinking tonight of how to hand those I love a mic and a guitar and pull up a chair to let them bleed the truth of where and who they are.