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Monday, October 27, 2014


A few years ago, while in the middle of a conversation with my Mom featuring a lot of my trademark stating-the-obvious-in-a-big-mouthed-way she said, “You know, you always were my child who had to let everybody know the emperor has no clothes”.  Whew.  What you need to know, as far as backstory goes, is that this is a radical reframing of what I heard from her over and over again growing up…what I was told as a girl was that I always had to “add a little piss to the situation”.  So somehow I have morphed from piss-adder to truth teller over the last 40+ years.   At least in my mother’s perception.  It got me thinking a lot about the ideas of truth vs. perception and why stating the obvious can seem to be kind of pissy.  I have been called pathologically honest, and while it was meant as a compliment, I think we all know that pathology refers to illness and that the Greek root “pathos” means suffering.  So I “suffer” from an overwhelming compulsion to get on a chair and start shouting about the elephant in the room.  That’s me, in a nutshell.

And my Mom was right both times; I am a person who says what needs to be said to clear the air, and I am a person who can be incredibly impatient and pissy about it.  Case and point:  years ago I was asked by someone very nice if her outfit made her look fat and I answered, “It’s not the outfit.”  That was the truth, btw.  It was also a pretty wretched thing to say.  And not an isolated incident by any stretch.  A friend was recently relating a story of an older woman she knows who has taken to walking out of meetings when she feels they have become vitriolic or unconstructive.  She just gets up, gets her things and leaves without a word.  My response to this was that kind of behavior is a luxury of the very old and the very young.  When I was young, I was the sort who would huffily leave a room, a conversation, even a church sermon for self-righteous reasons.  In retrospect, my causes were just, my behavior was not.  Because when you get to the middle of your life, you realize that living your truth is the most important thing on earth you can do.  You also realize imposing your truth on others is one of the most destructive.
I, like you, have a point of view and a voice that yearns to be heard…I, like you, am offended by injustice and imbecilism, if that is a word.  I have very specific thoughts and opinions and feelings on virtually every topic under the sun, and there is nothing I love more than to share all of these in conversation, debate and even lecture form.  I want you to know that the emperor is, in fact, butt-naked and that yes, there is an elephant in the room.  What has changed as I have aged is that I no longer need you to feel the same way about any of it as I do.  I understand that context matters, as does personal perspective…maybe you live in a nudist colony, and the emperor looks alright to you; maybe you work for the circus and it is a perfectly reasonable thing to expect there to be an elephant in the room.  I understand that the only subjects in the entire world that I am the definitive authority on are me, myself and I.  Even those three things can tangle me up a bit occasionally.

When we are young, we think that our opinion is the most important thing in the whole wide world; when we grow up, we know our opinion is the most important thing in the world, but only as far as our world is concerned.  We shout our thoughts to others less, and listen to them more.  We begin to trust ourselves without the need for outside validation…we begin to understand that as we communicate our truth with more compassion for ourselves and others, we can be heard more clearly than if we use a bullhorn.  We also know that when our communication “falls on deaf ears”, that is okay.  We are all here as messengers, so where one of us fails, another will succeed.  We learn to choose our battles so much more wisely, realizing that sometimes “the truth” is the key to our freedom, and sometimes “the truth” is just beating a horse that is already dead.  We learn to walk away from situations where our truth is not productive or welcomed.
So here is my truth:  nobody is ever going to call me demure.  I am a big-mouth, and strong-willed.  I am full to the brim of opinions, both informed and intuitive, that I would love to overshare with you in a very loud way.  I am such an advocate for the elephant in the room that I might as well be the elephant myself…and I will make 100% certain that there is NO WAY you could ever overlook me.  But what I dislike more than anything is anyone who tries to make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin, with my own voice.  So I will try always, to the best of my ability, to honor you in your skin, with your voice.  You may look and sound different than I do, but inside we are the same.  Inside we are seekers who want to live in peace with ourselves and others.  My “truth” and your “truth” are not going to be exactly the same, any more than my idea of perfect happiness will be yours.  So whether or not the emperor has any clothes on is actually irrelevant.  What is relevant is whether or not you can live peacefully with an elephant in the room.  I know I can’t.  But it’s okay if that’s just me.

1 comment:

  1. I love you and think you're fantastic. I've always appreciated your humor in the most uncomfortable of situations. The elephant appreciates you too <3