Sheree Bekker | When did frivolity overcome intensity?
Tonight I glimpsed THAT which is everything.
It is the same thing that I felt as I stood at the head of split-point, looking out over the bight. Once it is seen it cannot be unseen. The opposite of never enough is, simply, enough1.
It thrills me, this feeling – for it is a feeling and not a thing – as I now have the conviction that I could die ecstatically having witnessed THAT. I have never felt as small, or as vast, as this made me feel.
My mind has been opened, in the best possible way.
And I am grateful.
some nights you will feel
like there are a thousand galaxies
exploding in every inch of you
and you are burning too bright
to ever be looked at directly,
and some nights you will feel
impossibly small, like your
whole body could slip through
the spaces between atoms and
never reappear in this world again,
and some nights you will feel
like a paper doll, carefully crafted
and easily blown away, fragile,
too delicate to ever be touched,
and some nights you will feel
like each cell in your body is
made of the strength that holds
the whole planet together,
and that is okay, because you are
made of stardust and miniscule
atoms and breakable bones
and the building blocks of
everything in the universe,
and you are too alive to never
feel anything more than human. 2
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. To be human is to be in vulnerability” 1
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging” 1
Today, as I feel the epic vulnerability that pervades my life, I take courage to tell the whole story of who I am with my whole heart1.
As I sit here, in a dingy salmon-pink motel (yes – that is true), optimistically named for the lighthouse across the way on the Great Ocean Road, I realise that I am, at this very moment, doing that which grand life stories are told on. Sometimes there is a journey that begins because you know it is going to be epic to write about. For me, there is no such grand cause. All that I have for you is my story. Me. And that is enough. I am enough.
My past self is speaking with me…there is nowhere else she would rather be, and nowhere else she should be. Is it fun? No. Not at all, actually. Are there more glamorous places I want to be? Certainly. Of course I would rather be in the pub across the road that I just came from. Mingling, drinking, eating, sex. But that is too easy tonight. This is not who the past or future me wants me to be right now. And sometimes you have to trust them. They know you better than you will ever know your current self. Ever. They are here to serve you. I love you. You are not alone. You are enough. I have a sense that I was always going to be here. Sure, there is a more glamorous and worldly me sitting in that very pub at this very moment, of course there is. I could absolutely re-do my tear-stained make-up and walk over there right now, order myself a glass of bubbles.
Right now I need TIME and SOLITUDE to be with myself, to own my truth. I am learning to practice vulnerability, and to practice compassion with myself. What I do know for sure is that my future self will thank me the world over.
When did frivolity overcome intensity?
So here I sit, tonight, in a shame shit-storm having been in the presence of five gorgeous humans3 4 5 6 7 whose very lives are defined by journey, all I can think of is that I have to reveal my voice. She is detesting being concealed…she needs to be heard or she will eat me alive. Of this I have no doubt. I have spent years avoiding this, but tonight it has become so abundantly clear that this cannot not be written, because maktub: it is written…
When you start to allow vulnerability into your life, to forego the numbing, your life has to change. Up until as recently as this past year, I would have told you that I was not numbing, that I was that noxious-emotion: happy. The truth is that I was numbing so incredibly bad that I had to dive deep. Once I truly let go of the numbing (which I am still learning how to do), and allowed feeling back into my life, I knew that there would be no going back. To feel so deep and dark is what it is to feel so light and high. With intensity comes both dark and light. I hope that people who love me don’t feel concern when they hear just how deep my mind has gone, how I have pushed myself – for it is because of their unconditional love that this is a safe space for me to find my voice. I honestly believe that you cannot truly live your voice if you do not allow vulnerability to wash over you. The problem is that we all get so caught up in the shallow pools of ‘safe’ emotion that we never venture any further.
When last did you truly allow yourself to feel beauty, without censorship? We so often can only handle the sanitised version of feeling – the rest has become non-politically-correct feeling. So we numb. ‘Safe’ emotions are those feelings that are sanctioned by societal norms: happiness, rage, jealousy, sadness. Those emotions that can be tied to a concrete experience that is ‘supposed’ to elicit specific emotions from you (notably, usually, just for a set period of time before the concerned whispers begin). Has something BEAUTIFUL ever made you feel MORE? The full human experience includes a whole gamut of other feelings:
Living in shallow pools of safe emotion undermines the full human experience. I have no idea how people live their entire lives in those shallow pools.
Actually, I do.
It is comfortable there.
But I have no interest in comfort.
Why do people gravitate towards behaviours that shock, or challenge the status quo in destructive ways? Because we are never taught how to lean in to our discomfort. To go there. To embrace those places of yourself that you don’t want to embrace. You need to trust that you are there. You will find yourself, you will look out for yourself. If we can be taught the language of emotion more effectively, I truly believe that we have the power to use our empathy and compassion to change this world.
I have now glimpsed THAT which is everything through one of the most beautiful culminations of human creativity and instinct – dance. I have never seen, nor felt, such deep emotion. This came from a visceral space that I knew existed, but had never accessed before. Honestly, at that moment I believed that nothing else mattered. Seriously, nothing. Enough was suddenly enough. More of this would not make it better, could not make it better. It was by no means perfect, but then did it ever need to be? No. I had now been privy to someone else’s ecstasy, and I had never felt as small, or as vast as that made me feel. When Rumi speaks of a soul not being a drop in the ocean, but rather being an entire ocean in a single drop, THIS is the core of THAT.
Sergei Polunin was the youngest principal dancer ever with the Royal Ballet. He simply walked away from it all in 2012, because, in his words: “the artist inside me was dying”. This is the story of a human who, by all rights and privileges, should have this life easy…but whose hair is being pulled by the stars8 and who refuses to be defined. Who is defining himself.
REDEMPTION. INTENSITY. BEAUTIFUL.
THAT is a gorgeous human who has truly embraced his emotional wellbeing, in every way possible. He has spoken the full human experience in all its glorious splendour. Now to add some context around that 2015 performance, this film below by Jem Goulding was made just after he left the Royal Ballet in 2012, when there was doubt that he would ever dance again:
STOP BEING SMALL, BE VAST AND BRILLIANT.
Here is someone who truly recognised that he could not to numb. Life could’ve been so easy for him. It was all laid out for him at the Royal Ballet. Had he numbed, he would’ve been GREAT, true…but he never would’ve experienced life on a truly wholehearted scale. It seems that Sergei had no choice but to answer his call to “Why wouldn’t you?” 5
I feel it in my bones that this is a person who is on the same path as I. It is so very rare for me to feel that way. I have yet to encounter another human being who has mind-fucked me in such an all-encompassing way. The problem with numbing is the scale to which you cut off your own empathetic humanity, that vast connectedness which we inherently share with the rest of the natural world. When you recognise the stories of those around you, and when you start to share your own story, is when you start to get it right. Millions of words have been written about that which was shown in those four minutes of dance. Primal. Liminal. Mercurial. I absolutely adore that the world is going back to the very life force that makes up our very being.
“Rumi says that lovers read another book with another eye. Dreamers and lovers have similar knowing, and hearing. There is a continuous speech moving through form; like the presence and absence of the sun it is sometimes palpable, sometimes not, but it is always there generating the force of life”
There is another essentially human element to this dance. The song itself. ‘Take me to church’ 9 is a powerful LGBTQIA anthem. Let it go, and FEEL this:
I ADORE that Hozier did not intend this song to shock, but that it came from a place of deep empathy for other humans:
That we can call a straight Ukranian ballet dancer – choreographed by another male ballet dancer10, directed by a man who identifies openly as gay11, dancing in Hawaii to an LGBTQIA anthem from an Irish musician – BEAUTIFUL is progress enough in this world.
The opposite of never enough is, simply, enough1.
The final dot in this pattern is an anti-war piece, again steeped in human empathy, from GORGEOUS HUMANS: Sergei, Queen, Michael Jackson, and David LaChapelle set to “There must be more to life than this” (Update: unfortunately this video was leaked and has now been removed from Youtube – I will update this post if it becomes available again – S)
Show me your bones people, they are BEAUTIFUL! 12
“Human beings live in three spiritual states. In the first we pay no attention to God. We notice only the stones and dirt of the world, the wealth, the children, the men and women. In the second we do nothing but worship God. In the third, the most advanced state, we become silent. We don’t say ‘I serve God’ or ‘I don’t serve’. We know that God is beyond being present or absent. The creator of absence and presence. And other than both.” 13
Human beings are discourse. The rest is blood and bone and nerves. 13