Monday, March 4, 2013

Common Ground

"Our similarities bring us to a common ground, our differences allow us to be fascinated by each other." --Tom Robbins

Friday night. Twinkle lights. Candles. Music. A little bit of food. A little bit of wine. We're back again for another Twist. And tonight I want to find our common thread. The ground we stand on. There are moments in this life when we feel all alone, like an island. Surely no one can ever imagine . . . understand . . . would believe what we are going through. But when we open our mouths or pick up a pen and spill it out, we find the truth--our common ground. 

 The project I chose tonight was to alter a famous piece of art. I had photocopied several pieces and handed them out at random to each of the women. We started by painting a background and moved to other mediums to add layers. They could use any of the materials in the room, including ephemera, bubble wrap, pipe cleaners, pastels, washi tape, fabrics and stencils. I only asked that as they worked on the piece, they kept their current day or the things happening in their lives right now as inspiration for their finished piece. 

With Maya leading us in a writing exercise we continued to explore our stories and commonalities. 
She asked us to choose a word from a jar. We chose:


We then began by writing one sentence on our page starting with that particular chosen word. We passed our papers to the left and added to the previous line, again beginning our own sentence with our word. In the end, when we had our page back in front of us, we re-wrote our first sentence. Then we took turns reading our pieces out loud. We discovered that our personal stories wove into the larger collaborative stories we all shared. We found our common ground. Some of our discoveries? Everyone is afraid: afraid of death and illness, afraid of not being cool enough, afraid of leaving inhibition behind, afraid of making difficult choices, afraid of being seen. None of us are immune to fear and doubt. The "similar" was right in front of us: 

When I was 9, I wrote my first poem. Can you imagine what I wrote about at that age? Your sweet nature was my inspiration. Everyone has a special skill or talent to share. Nothing is  unusual or weird at that age . . . who you are is beginning to come to the surface to you, and to the world. And when I was 9 my mother wrote me a letter of apology. I have it today. People can really see who you are becoming and that is so exciting. Most of your light was already shining through and still growing today! When I was 9, I wrote my first poem.

Most of the time I am more than one person. When I am awake, I am incredibly organized; when I am asleep, I let myself fall blissfully apart. Can you see all of my parts when I breathe in and out? Your touch awakens me to my blissful self. Everyone has different sides to themselves. Nothing calms me more than being with myself and all my parts . . . finding the thread that holds me together. And what keeps me grounded in difficult times is the inner strength I mastered at nine years of age. People need to be able to express themselves. Most of the time I am more than one person.

Can you see inside of me? Your beautiful green eyes tell me you can. Everyone has someone inside of them that no one knows. Nothing is the same . . . we are all different. And all of us should celebrate this difference, never be jealous or judgemental of it. People can make all the difference in your life. Most everyone we meet can see inside if we let them, some can see us even if we don’t. When we let them see, something inside of us breaks down, breaks open, breaks forth. Can you see inside of me?

Your life is a journey of expansiveness. Everyone has their own journey, nothing is straight and narrow about my journey, only twists and turns. And the beauty of life is that we never know what comes next--suspense--the ultimate thrill. People create their own lives by every choice that they make.  Most people’s lives are not “cookie cutter.” When are we not on some kind of quest? When do we stop searching? Can you see the journey IS the destination and relish in that feeling every day? Your life is a journey of expansiveness.

Nothing compares to the fear of illness and the elation felt when wellness succeeds. And I personally can relate to these fears as well as to conquering them. People can come together to celebrate good news of better health. Most days I try to make good choices for health and wellness. When I find myself feeling morbid, falling into the trap of fearing my mortality, I look in the mirror and find something beautiful and precious about my life. Can you look in your mirror every day and say, “Another day,” another chance at living, not just waiting for things to happen to you, but L.I.V.I.N.G. Your purpose in life is to live the very best one you can, to be true to who you are, to be yourself, so get L.I.V.I.N.G. Everyone has fear, but death is not mine. Nothing compares to the fear of  illness and the elation felt when wellness succeeds.

Everyone around me seems way cooler than me. Nothing about me feels unique, but somehow in the depths of my heart I know that I am. And I have learned from observation and experience that we all share a common ground, we are all the same. People are just people, with feelings and doubts. Most of me feels cool, except for the part that doesn’t. When I try to be cool, I get so tired; I need more coffee to keep myself buzzing, but my body doesn’t want more coffee. Can you see the coolest part about you is the part that is most alive, most excited about what you are doing--not what anyone else is doing--just you? Your true self lies within, find yourself, your true self and you will be beyond comparing yourself to everyone, you will be cool! Everyone around me seems way cooler than me.

And the choice is always our to make. People can sometimes feel trapped in their lives. Most traps are illusions so the choices are still there. When we see a trap, we can see it as an invitation, a dare, a diving board into some cool blue pool. Can you imagine jumping three stories into a pool of water, or jumping at the chance, or jumping because no one said, “JUMP” it simply felt like the right thing to do, so you did? Your choice, always your choice, choose your own destiny. Everyone should follow their heart. Nothing should stand in your way, jump into that pool, and make waves while you’re at it! And the choice is always ours to make.

People like to dance and sing. Most of us, if we are lucky, do dance and sing instead of being afraid. When we are afraid, we dance badly, sing with our throats flat against our vocal chords, and the sound is thin as toothpicks. Can you shout your song from the rooftops and dance like no one is watching instead? You’re the master of your own destiny, sing and dance with all your heart, free, unabashed, and in true splendor. Everyone should sing and dance, it’s good for the soul. Nothing is better than surrendering your inhibitions and allowing your soul to emerge . . . and all the better with song and dance. And when I feel down and need inpiration for the soul, I sing, I dance, I remind myself I am alive, and, if I am alive, I must live well. People like to dance and sing.

During a break, I replayed a video I had posted on Facebook this week. I think it speaks very well to the idea that even seemingly different people can find something in common when they sit down together and share their stories. Here is that video: Take a seat. Make a friend. 

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