About nine months ago, I shared a prose poem with all of you entitled, “Bare Naked”. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, you can find it here. Today, I’m sharing a video of myself for the first time, in which I’m “performing” it. This is new to me, so thank you, in advance, for your views and comments!
I’ve been hearing how satisfying it is to allow oneself to be vulnerable.
Tear down those walls, they say.
Only then will you feel real joy.
Live each day to the fullest, they say,
doing whatever it is you were meant to do.
Follow your passion, they say,
but first figure out what your passion is.
What they don’t really focus on, though,
is how terrifying it is to do any of this.
I built these walls three decades ago.
I know what to expect.
They protect me from feeling too much,
when the news has only death to deliver,
when my spouse says something hurtful that will stay with me for years,
when my boss overlooks me in favor of my colleague.
These walls have kept me from drowning in sorrow.
But they’ve done something else, too.
They’ve removed me,
made me irrelevant.
I’ve spent so long crouched within them, I no longer feel like a part of this world.
Is that what’s happening to all of us?
We’re not just building walls to divide borders,
we’re building walls around our hearts?
I don’t like what’s happening to us.
allowing others to take over,
allowing power and money to take precedence over life.
If tearing down my walls is what I need to do to become more a part of this world,
to the point where the sorrow might overwhelm me,
but it might move me, too,
and push me out of my comfort zone,
then that is exactly what I’m going to do.
The thing is,
I cry every day.
My heart shudders all the time.
I feel more scared than ever.
But I don’t want to hide anymore.
I don’t know why God made me this way,
a hulking mass of depression, anxiety, and pessimism,
but I need to believe that I am who I am
for a reason.
The truth is,
we are living in monstrous times.
The worst monsters are the ones we can’t see,
but that manipulate us anyway.
How can we get rid of something we can’t even see?
Well, we built invisible walls around us, didn’t we?
If we can create invisible forces,
we can certainly learn to get rid of them, too.
If we shed the walls, we shed the chains.
If we shed the chains, we’re free to “fight” the monsters,
the ones we can see, as well as the ones we can’t:
the power that corrupts
and the people who wield that power,
the imbalance where money is more valuable than human lives,
the suffering of those people, who,
even though we can’t see them or they’re just a soundbite in our system,
and they feel so far away,
are still a part of this world,
and a part of us.
Just because the powers-that-be thought it best to divide us into nations, races, and religions,
doesn’t mean we should let them separate us in spirit.
We are all one.
So to hell with it if I cry when I watch the news.
At least then I might actually take action
in ending this misery,
because the truth is,
we live in monstrous times,
but these are the only times we’re going to get.
Let’s turn them into something else,
so that years later,
when our children and grandchildren remember us,
“Man, those were such wonderful times.
Everyone cared, everyone was an activist.
Everyone did their part in unifying this world,
which is the main reason
we live in such peaceful times
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,
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,
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
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,
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.