Friday, March 4, 2016

Risk the Mess

Sometimes, we like things tidy. Nice and neat. They can fit in little packages, so we can keep track- measure them, count them, organize them. And sometimes, that's fine. Like in your closet or your filing cabinet.

But how often do we apply this need for tidiness to our human experience? To our own heart? Or to other people?

Epic Valentine Making
As many of you know, I work with children. So let's just start with literal messes. I find myself sometimes shying away from certain activities because of the cleanup they involve. I catch myself doing this and I wonder why I care so much. Is an extra 5 minutes of sweeping glitter actually a problem? Ultimately, no. But there's fear and laziness. There's also subtle conditioning of a culture and a society which condemns such uncontained expressions of shimmering brilliance, and thinks time would be better spent on more linear endeavors.

Glitter project!
When I notice my impulse to say no in the face of a mess, I check myself. And I say yes. I documented all the messes the kids and I made in one day. It was the best day. It was a day when creative impulses arose and had the space to be expressed. It was a day when relationships were deepened. When books were read with wild abandon. When every day items expressed their true magic. It was a day for dirty feet, dirty hands, and glitter everywhere. It was a day with lots of happy children (and at least one happy grown-up). And maybe you're wondering about the clean-up? It was totally fine! A little extra time, but a lot of helping hands. And the goodness of the whole situation made it easy.

What if we could make messes like this in every day life? What if we could accept the mess of love? What if we could love another person outside of nice, neat little boundaries and expectations? What if we couldn't measure or count or even explain our feelings but we let ourselves feel them anyway? What if we approached every relationship without the fear of cleaning up? I suspect things would sparkle a whole lot more. It's like coating your entire life with glitter. Some people might moan upon contemplating that, as if glitter is a nuisance. But it also makes everything more beautiful. It shines. It sparkles. It doesn't apologize!

How much of our lives do we spend apologizing for who we are, for how we feel, for not being this way or that way, good enough, skinny enough, eating healthy enough, ad nauseum.

It rained gnomey stones!
To me, the mess is a metaphor for genuine human experience. If we are willing to look at the nature of things as they are, we do not find that they can all be filed into neat little categories. The human experience is all over the spectrum. Who we are is ever changing. How we feel is ever changing. Who others are is ever changing, and thus how we relate to other people is ever changing. When we can approach situations or other people, or even ourselves, with curiosity, then we finally taste genuineness. Yes, it might be uncomfortable not to place expectations on others (or on yourself). It is likely difficult at times as well. You may even have to face the reality of things as they are, which could be unpleasant or not what you expected. You might even see your own habitual patterns, assumptions, and fears. But if you go there, then you can also find what's underneath: space.

Teepee fort
It's the space to feel how you feel, be who you are, dance when you want, and really connect with the magic of being. Children have an easier time of this. You want to build a teepee? Just do it. No hesitation. Who cares that sheets are supposed to go on beds, or that we have to leave the house in 15 minutes, or that we'll have to clean up later. We just want to sit in a teepee. It's not that big of a deal. And it's true to the moment. Or we want glitter on our shoes. Great. No internal voice starts to think what other people will think of you for wearing sparkly shoes. No voice nags at you about how there will be glitter all over the house for a month, or how you shouldn't waste it like that, or how you paid so much money for those shoes and blah blah blah. Just go for it. Risk the mess.

Risk loving. Risk feeling. Risk looking. Risk listening. Risk being yourself.

You might just find that your inner nature is actually a pegasus unicorn with rainbow sparkles. Or a purple lightning breathing dragon. Or maybe, just maybe, you find that you can love yourself for exactly who you are. It's radical. But it's so worth it.




This was the third time the jewels were all over the dirt.