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Our Own It
I shaved my beard off today. Not totally off. The hate is still on my chin, looking all crazy and serial killer like. But the unruly, Civil War general looking madness on the sides is all gone. The beard is dead; long live the beard. Much to the chagrin of some of my friends, it was time for the beard to go. Don’t worry; it’ll be back with much more hate and rage. It just needed a vacation. A hate vacation. A hate-cation.
I had an interesting exchange with a stranger today. It wasn’t a conversation since we each only said one sentence, but it jogged my brain a little. Since jogging is something that I don’t do, and since I think running is something you only ought do if a bear or a man in a hockey mask is chasing you, we’ll meander into this tiny story and what I think about it. Meander with me. Not that close. That’s better.
Walking into the bookstore, I held the door for a young man exiting. It’s what you do, and if you don’t hold doors for people, shame on you; that’s not very neighborly of you. Fred Rogers frowns. But I held the door for this scene kid and waited a moment so that he was through the portal. I always find it funny that people are compelled to grab the door when you’re already holding it for them. Especially women. The whole idea is that the dame doesn’t have to touch the door. At any rate, the scene kid walked through the held door, turned around and said, “Your plugs are awesome.” It took me a moment to remember which plugs I had in my lobes at the time. The plugs I was wearing were simple, blue handicapped symbols. The kind you’d see painted in a crippled spot. (Thanks, Dave. www.mysticmetalsbodyjewelry.com) After realizing which plugs I was wearing, I said to him, “Hey, man; don’t fear what you are.” Then I walked through the bookstore, grabbed my coffee, and sat down and thought about it. Don’t fear what you are. What does that mean.
I don’t often let words spill out of my mouth without thoroughly thinking about what they mean and how they could be interpreted. In the door holding situation, I wasn’t afforded enough time to think of something perfectly scripted to say to the stranger. Instead, my mouth opened and I said, “Hey man; don’t fear what you are.” I’m not sure I fully understand the gravity of what I said, and I doubt that the scene kid really cared all that much. Still, it bothered me. I don’t know where it came from, and worse, I’m not sure if I can provide advice that I don’t take.
Do you fear you? That’s a dense thought for a stupid blog, isn’t it. But there are things that shackle our beauty and self-confidence. There are things that manipulate our own willingness to think what we choose about ourselves. What are those things, and are those things fear? My friends and I have a policy. Nothing is off limits until someone says it is. To watch a security camera of my friends and me, one would think that we are some of the most insensitive people on the planet. That may be partially true, but more accurately is that nothing is off limits. We will make jokes about anything, and in other social situations in reality, I sometimes forget that the nothing off limits policy isn’t something enjoyed by everyone. We aren’t sinister to one another without first being sinister to ourselves, and I think that is an important distinction. I joke about me constantly. I’m not the most confidant person, nor do I have a very high opinion of myself. With that said, I would like strangers and friends to be comfortable with what I am, what I think, and why I think that way. Comedy is a language spoken by everyone, and it is the most effective camouflage.
But this isn’t about comedy. This is about fear. Strange to tether the two. I don’t think I fear what I am so much as I fear the discomfort I may be causing a stranger. My way of quelling the assumption the stranger may or may not have is to draw attention to it, to invite it to join our conversation, whatever the it may be. Elephant in the room, and all of that bullshit. In less words, I say, ‘Hey, I know it’s here. It’s OK to talk about it.’ But what is the it?
We all have our own it. It is your handicap. It is your shame. It is your stretched lobes. It is that crook in your nose you don’t like, or that your left eye is a little more closed than the right. It is your height or weight. It is your past or your hope. It is your cane or your whatever that makes you less like everyone else and more like you. Do you fear it or do you love it?
Why does it have to be one or the other, is a better question I suppose. Whatever the it is, it is a thing that makes you unique; it makes you the you that you are and not the you that the guy over there is. It is the thing that is manifested in your own simple and unique beauty. If you choose to see it that way. Do you see it that way? I don’t always, but I do sometimes. It’s a day by day thing. Sometimes I look on my legs and think that they are a something that is truly unique to me and part of my beauty; it makes me an individual thing. Other times, I look on my legs and think that they are not the legs of that guy, or that guy, or that guy. And I hate them. What I fear about them, however, is that the stranger with whom I am interacting is looking at the legs, the cane, and brimming with a curiosity that society has labeled as impolite. Strangely, I garner more of the stranger’s impoliteness from watching his eyes lazily bounce from the cane to my eyes, to the cane to the floor, from the floor to my eyes again. I know he wants to know about this portion of my beauty, and I am not afraid to indulge him. The question then becomes, do I quell the curiosity that I assume is bubbling inside the stranger, or do I afford him the opportunity to ask for himself, in his own comfort? Whose comfort is more important, mine or his?
I suppose it doesn’t matter. We should all be unafraid to say what we’d like with words chosen very precisely to share what we are thinking but still traverse on the periphery of socially acceptable or offensive. I am much more refreshed by the strangers who say straight, ‘What’s the deal with the cane’ rather than the folks who tiptoe around their curiosity and say things like, ‘Is that your pimp cane,’ or ‘That’s a neat cane.’ What I fear, however, is the stranger who abandons the opportunity to indulge his curiosity because he himself is afraid that what he has to say is in foul territory.
Don’t fear what you are. That was the original point, right? I guess my writing ability was contained in my beard. Like Samson. Except it was his hair. Not his beard. That had, you know. His power. Living in fear of what you are is not a fun thing to do; have trust in that. Unfortunately, we are all contained in a one time use carbon meat bag that we have to maintain and learn to like. If we don’t, it’s going to be a long forever. This isn’t a ‘your flaws make you valuable’ bullshit nonsense. That’s shit that the relatives whom you only see three times a year tell you when you’re growing and going through the awkward points in your life where you discover that your penis is for more than just peeing. What I am saying is that fear of self is soul scarring. It’s an albatross around your neck. It’s is the chain around your ankles drawing you into the deep blue. Don’t fear what you are. You don’t have to like what you are, but you also don’t have to fear it. Some days are easier to remember your beauty. Some days, not so much. The goal is to have more of the former than the latter. If you fear what you are, then you are fearing your beauty because beautiful is what you are before anything else. Don’t fear your beauty. Just be it. Stay beautiful, kids.
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