Earlier today, I saw someone on the train reading a book called “Proof of Heaven”.
Faith has always been hard for me to grasp. This applies to all things – spiritual/religious, people, programs/institutions, myself. To lean into something without evidence it will hold you up has always seemed foolish. No one wants to fall down. With this hesitancy comes a limited ability to trust and commit, something I’ve found to be a stumbling block in my work. Vulnerability is a part of the work, give in/give over/give way to the feelings and let them happen. Breathe and feel and let go. It’s hard. Where does the fear and reservation stem from? I’ve made an effort to prioritize artistic expression over reception, and I think it’s less that I’m worried about what others will think of me as much as it’s a fear of the feelings themselves.
I was an impulsive child. I got into a fair amount of trouble (rightly so) due to these impulses, and learned to push them away. Now I’m trying to unpack all those things for purposes of the work, but it’s hard to untrain the habits that kept me alive and out of prison for 24 years. This isn’t to say the goal of the work is to become a sociopath, but rather that I need to break down barriers in order to have a fully responsive instrument. If I get hurt, I clam up and wall off the mechanism that’s causing me pain. It’s self preservation, pure and simple. I think that for men, especially larger men in western culture, the societal pressure to “be a man” translates into young men shutting down parts of themselves. Men don’t cry, push down the sad. Men don’t get scared, get angry instead. Go make a beer commercial while we’re at it. Knowing how to be open and vulnerable becomes a vestigial trait as boys evolve into the strong men they were told to be. Faith? Putting myself out there? It’s uncomfortable, sure, but more than that it’s unfamiliar. It’s delving into uncharted territory, and reconnecting to a willingness to fail that has long been shut away.
I have a friend who’s going through it right now. Classic unrequited love, where one partner is enamored and the other oblivious. She called me today, weeping. She was immersed in it, so fully alive that I couldn’t help but smile. We laughed. “Look how emotionally available you are!” I said. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
To shut out the negative part of life is to live half awake, only partially aware of the full experience of what it is to be human. We’re all a work in progress. I’m in the right place.