Bare Naked

Bare yourself naked, they say.

Be who you really are.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable;

only then will you achieve genuine happiness.

No matter that you’ll feel genuine sorrow, too,

and pain and love and passion,

the whole gamut of emotions.

What does it mean, though, to be vulnerable?

Should you unpeel yourself like a piece of fruit?

First, the outer, strongest layer,

the one that protects you from pain,

but also the one that prevents you from truly mixing with the others who are so like and unlike you,

the banana with the mandarin,

the apples with the strawberries,

the pomegranate with the pears?

If you strip away this outer layer of ego, what will happen?

Only the pulp will remain,

the substance,

the spirit.

Imagine unpeeling even further,

till you get to the core,

till you understand what exactly is at the center of your being.

It’s a mystery, and yet, you want so badly to know, don’t you?

Is there a black hole inside you, swallowing your emotions,

leaving you feeling alienated and numb in this world,

a black hole that, one day, will swallow you up entirely?

Or is it more like a white light, which illuminates your mind,

and pours through your pores,

making you shine like a gemstone,

dissolving your outer surface,

the sharp edges and rough texturing,

to reveal the hidden quartz inside?

What will you find at the core of your being,

if only you would examine it,

excavate it,

empower it?

You have a theory.

You think God might be hiding inside of you,

playing the longest ever game of hide and seek,

and you haven’t been able to find Him

until now.

He’s hiding inside you,

but also inside him and her,

and within the bark of the trees and the veins of the leaves.

He’s hiding in a light bulb where a moth will burn if it gets too close,

and in the center of the sun,

where you’re warned not to look for fear of going blind.

He’s hiding in your parents and grandparents,

in your children and grandchildren,

in the puzzle pieces you used to play with,

clapping in triumph when you’d finally put them all together.

He’s hiding in books and movies which have moved you to tears, laughter, and awe.

He’s hiding in the music which lifts you, and makes you want to dance,

or meditate on meaning.

He’s even hiding in your enemy, isn’t He?

Showing you what it means to be “other”,

because only then will you know what it means to be human,

and how to bring the world closer together.

What does it mean, then, to be vulnerable?

It means just letting yourself be,

travelling deep within and unlocking the gates,

exposing whatever there is inside –

the dark, the beautiful, the glistening, the gray –

allowing people in and allowing people out.

It means learning to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It means doing the things that scare you the most,

‘cause what’s life without a little adventure?

It means using your voice to change the world,

but first,

going in search of that voice.

I bet it’s hiding in there somewhere,

maybe right next to God.

Go find it and don’t come back till you do.

 

Bare yourself naked, they say.

Well, are they ready to hear what’s coming their way?

Are they ready for you?

Are YOU ready for you?

It’s about damn time.

Most Days

 

Most of my days are mediocre,

going through a cycle of pre-planned routines,

relying on handy little coping mechanisms,

sneaking in predictable bad habits like eating a hidden stash of sweets or sleeping later than I should.

On most days,

there’s child-rearing,

tv-watching,

phone-talking,

errand-walking,

job-searching,

journal-writing,

food-prepping,

mortality-facing:

all the usual suspects.

And throughout it all, a feeling of boredom I have come to depend on

because boredom is better than being in a black hole.

 

On my best days,

I feel like singing.

I’ll imagine my life is a musical with a song and dance for every occasion,

and romance,

oh-so-much romance.

I let go of all my anxieties

and instead of feeling depleted,

I have so much love to give.

Wisdom and warm hugs abound.

On my best days,

I feel like my best self,

and I want so badly for that feeling to last.

I’ll read uplifting stories, listen to inspirational music, watch intelligent videos.

It’s not long, though,

before the monotony of life sets in again,

and the feeling of being free is gone.

 

Most days,

I won’t sing out of fear someone will hear me

and think I’m tuneless.

I won’t write or share my work for fear someone will read it

and find out I’m a fraud.

Most days,

I avoid difficult conversations and distressing confrontations.

I’ll wear the veneer of an optimist who’s got it all together –

a fulfilling family life, a successful professional life, even a peaceful spiritual life –

but in reality, I’ll steep myself in the negative,

the fatalistic,

the frightening.

Most days,

my mind is like an obstinate child who will not listen

as I try to guide it towards positivity and love.

However, the mind has a mind of its own, and,

when left unchecked,

has the power to seduce me into a black hole of my own making.

 

On my worst days,

my mind is like a dominating overlord who takes joy in my torture.

I feel invisible,

isolated,

ignored.

I am weak in the face of all those voices in my head that tell me I’m useless,

that I won’t amount to anything,

when actually, I’ve already amounted to so much,

that I’m lazy,

when actually, I’m scared,

that I’m talentless,

when actually, I’m the only person in the world

who knows how best to be me.

On my worst days,

I feel unloved,

and that is the worst feeling of all,

because if nobody loves me,

then what’s the point of my existence.

On my worst days,

I wish I could just disappear.

I forget that there is someone out there who loves me,

the same being that made me,

that deemed me worthy of creation

and a place among the cosmos.

I forget

that to some people

I am the whole world,

and to others,

I’m important,

though perhaps misunderstood.

I forget that the people around me aren’t all out to get me,

but are flawed themselves,

and just want to be accepted for who they are,

despite their quirks and occasional cruelties.

They have their own black holes to battle.

On my better days,

I realize all this,

and I see the world through the eyes of an observer, not a performer.

I sense the beauty all around me,

in the human capacity for kindness,

and the majestic presence of nature,

the miniscule place our planet occupies in the universe,

and my ability to forgive.

There is beauty in every moment,

if only we could feel it.

 

On my best days,

I don’t fully inhabit my body,

and float, rather than walk.

I feel at one with the universe

and allow my spirit to guide me,

come what may.

“Just try to enjoy the ride,”

I tell myself.

“Coast through calm waters,

navigate around the rocks,

hang on tight during waterfalls,

but be sure to soar through the skies

with eyes wide open.”

 

On my best days,

I feel like singing,

and so,

without giving it a second thought,

I do.