We turn into the park and I have this feeling something big is on it’s way in. These feelings have been bubbling to the surface all day. It’s hard to speak without crying but I have this sense that I am taken care of and that it’s time to drop the armor and allow myself to be seen.
The heat has been oppressive all weekend out in the desert and I have been welcoming it in with open arms. There is something about the quietness, the empty space, the prickly trees that reach out as far as the eye can see that holds me and allows me to expand at the same time. It’s like that feeling I get when I practice, when I stand in tadasana, mountain pose, just taking it all in. Feeling rooted while reaching up. Looking out into the vast nothingness that holds everything, contemplating what I stand for in this moment.
What do I stand for?
What really matters to me?
Out here I let myself go. I stop combing my hair. I don’t bother to put on concealer because I want to connect more to my Mother. I inherited her dark circles under my eyes whether I like them or not. And I don’t like them most days but out here in this heat I stop giving a fuck for just long enough to ask myself what I truly stand for.
Looking out into the muted desert land I decide it is time to really stand for something. I am not sure what that is right now but I know I’ve got to get my intentions into the fire soon and I hope that brings me some clarity.
Sitting on the warm rocks waiting for my turn to walk up to the fire and be witnessed by the folks I’ve been healing with for the last two days. The tears continue to leak out of my eyes and my friend calls my name. It’s time.
I stand up and walk towards the fire repeating the mantra in my head, ‘All in, All in, All in.’ My friend and I have been saying this to each other throughout weekend to make ourselves laugh and to remind us why we are out here in the first place. There is no such thing as half measures anymore when it comes to doing this powerful, transformative work. We’re all in.
All fucking in!
I fumble around for a minute, digging the dried corn out of my tight shorts to offer to this beautiful fire in front of me. I mutter my gratitude for everyone and for my amazement that I just found this community last year and then I share my intentions out loud.
Before I know it my teacher asks me to sing a song for the group. My mind goes white. I chant most mornings and have for years but in that moment I can’t think of anything, it’s like there is nothing there. I recall the first song I ever sang in front of people 5 years ago while leading a residency on the role of love in contemporary art in Canada. I sing the first verse and then everything goes white again. I can’t recall a single lyric, a single note. It’s just me without my armor in front of 30 people having no idea what I am doing.
The last time I felt that seen was over 7 years ago when I spoke at one of the oldest AA meetings in San Francisco. During that meeting I stood up at a podium and told over 200 people that my deepest source of shame was getting pregnant for the second time at 19 years old and not being able to stop using alcohol and drugs long enough to carry the baby to term.
All fucking in.
If you asked me what my biggest fears is aside from losing my brother or parents I would say being in front of people without my armor. Being seen not knowing the words to a song, being seen for being imperfect. Being seen for being myself.
That night I let it all go into the fire. I asked her to support me and celebrate that I finally figured out what I stand for.
I stand for myself.
I stand for believing that there is nothing outside of myself that is better than what is inside of me.
I stand for loving every aspect of myself, even the parts that are very challenging for me to accept.
I stand for learning to be my own best friend, for embracing my gifts and using my creative powers for good in this world.
I stand for walking the path of authenticity and illuminating the path for others when they need support.
I stand for not giving up no matter what because I am learning to trust that I am worth it.