Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: August 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

How Does This Come Out of You?

Though I cannot say for sure, I think what she was asking was how do all these deep questions, thoughts, and writing come out of someone she didn't know in that way. We danced and performed together in countless tap shows over the years but rarely got into such topics of conversation so I could easily dismiss this as a singular case if she was the only one to have asked such a question but she's not. I've had this question asked of me in many different ways over the years.

As we live our lives, we naturally grow and change and become different people as we explore new parts of ourselves. We don't always stop and look at the ways we are changing much less ask if this is the healthiest way to be. At our Quaker yearly meeting this year, I took a workshop on Teaching Adults. Part of our time together was spent looking at our teaching style. There were four types and while two of them described me in part, one being goal oriented and the other the dynamic leader, two others described me extraordinarily well. One used words such as playful, funny, enthusiastic, lively, creative, and engaging. The other was tender hearted, a comforter, accepting of all, sensitive, caring, and a good listener. They are both me – both parts of me that have been in my soul since before the day I was born. I was a character as a young child and very caring and sympathetic. But over the years as I grew up, the sensitive side overtook the playful side. I got hurt and it was painful. Then, as I went through a deeply transformative period in my mid-twenties (two books in at this point), that inner class clown was at last free to come out and throw a party. I learned to be funny. I learned the gift of play. I learned to enjoy things with the child-like innocence I believe we all need to have. I learned to laugh again with all of my soul. People liked it and I was overjoyed to find that beautiful part of me I had let go for so long. I let her have center stage and my writing became something I did at home.

For quite some time I have been happy this way. That is, until my friend asked her question and I realized there was a whole part of me most of my friends don't know very well as they have only known me for the last few years and they see the funny side first. Whereas I used to only tease and be funny after I became comfortable around someone, now it's the other way around. As most of my friends have only know me for a couple of years or less, they might only know that more sensitive side of me if they are particularly astute because it's not one I share quickly. It can take a long time. I fully realize this is ironic for a published author to confess – that people who know her face-to-face don't realize what is so publicly shared. But they don't. It's safer to share it in print and it is safer still to share such writing in a form that is time protected. You don't know when a poem was written that I've included in a book but you usually have a much better idea what someone is thinking in person or on a blog such as this. It is a far riskier way to share oneself and for the last few years, I usually haven't.

But now that funny side is getting me into trouble. Times when I say something just to be funny is taken seriously when they don't realize I'm only joking. Oops. I've realized I need to be far more careful in ways I let the class clown play. She needs the balance of the tender hearted woman I so fiercely protect. They have to learn to live together in tandem. They have to be integrated. The serious, quiet side I treasure so highly, the person I am when I'm home alone or talking with a close friend, needs to get out and provide some ballast to the class clown and that class clown needs to teach that sympathetic side how to laugh at herself.

There are multiple sides to every person and we all have private and public parts of ourselves. For example, I'm sure I'll always be more serious when I'm alone, but unless those parts are integrated, we are taking away the gift of who we truly are from those who need our genuine presence. My prayer for myself is that I can learn well how to integrate all the parts of myself so the only reason someone will ask, "How does this come out of you?" will be because I look younger than I really am and there is nothing I want to do about that.