As I was writing my previous post, Dreamer, this Goethe quote popped into my mind and the encouragement, “begin it”, would not let up.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Poet
I sat for a while, as the refrain of electric piano still wafted from my speakers, feeling glad I had written and shared what had bubbled-up out of me on that walk. But inevitably, as my day progressed, the petty fears began to grow and gnaw at my solar plexus – Ugh, had I really shared that? Was it a good idea or dumb? Now it’s true, people have often thanked and praised me for my honesty and vulnerability – Breastless being the epitome of that – and I love that this creates connection and conversation with others, but the behind-the-scenes fear that arises from doing so is not so readily apparent. It can be crippling sometimes; the part of me that wants to stay safely tucked away from view, judgement, criticism, rejection. Oh, it is strong sometimes.
And I know that I am not alone in that.
Who in their right mind wants to open themselves to criticism of the kind we create in our heads?! But that’s just it – the self-criticism is always dramatically worse, a quantum leap higher than anything I have ever been met with from the outside. So far! I have, at times, been met with annoyance and even ranting, but the gladness I hear in those who comment and respond to my offerings always far exceeds those reactions and reminds me that anything I throw, rotten-egg fashion, at myself is pure fabrication.
I was thinking all this while I was in the thick of a “vulnerability hangover” as Brene’ Brown calls it, and that phrase, “begin it” kept on drumming away. It truly is worthwhile and wonderful to take the time to dream AND there’s always a next step. There is making manifest what we want to see in the world. There is stepping into the arena, to use another of Brene’ Brown’s metaphors.
And so I did.
A most beautifully curated location right here in Quesnel is a little oasis of what I feel comes closest to a French Provencal paradise. Edgewood Farm with its flowers and barn boutique. I took myself up there to book an evening event of poetry on the patio – think evening warmth, blooms and beauty – and I also dared to offer something a little extra-risky: Poet-in-Situ. I sat on the patio with one of their specialty coffees and a Goldfield Bakery treat, noted all the things I noticed in that moment and I wrote them a poem.
Edgewood Blooms Enter the French feel, gravel footsteps, dove colombe-cooing her oh so European love. Armfuls of flesh-soft peonies Pink mounds of petunias Hopeful hydrangeas promising pom-poms. Swallow-tail butterfly flutters by Swifts swallowing insects Swallows swifting the sky. Hummingbird at hollyhock Delphiniums bending, enjoying the cool. Impressionist blue.
And I didn’t stop there. I obeyed “Begin it, Emma” and stepped into something else I have dreamed of doing for a while now. I approached two carers who were giving lunch to their youth in wheelchairs to ask whether they were game for an experiment. I offered them the chance to give a poem to someone. By chatting with me about that person for 10 minutes, I would attempt to write a poem. Could I test my ability with them as we sat and enjoyed the peace and beauty?
They were more than game and gladly told me all about their boss. They spoke. I scribbled notes as fast as I could. I then sat alone at another picnic bench and played around with all the words and phrases for 15 blissful minutes. I then delivered it out loud and handed them the hand-written piece. They loved it; “She’ll cry. I can just see it.” they agreed. Then my work here is done! I had put my poetic purpose out there. I helped put voice to unspoken appreciation, gratitude, cherishing – both of a place and of a person – and made real in this material world some simple thoughts and perceptions. Connection, rather than anticipated rejection, won the day.
Dare to dream. Begin it….
What might you want to begin today that will bring you joy and connect to the beauty around you and maybe to others? Even just one small step in that direction will begin to create that world we all yearn for.
Postscript: As if this wasn’t enough to prove that connection is the true spirit of my work, I received this email response from a woman on my list: