One evening a grandfather was teaching his young grandson about the internal battle that each person faces. “There are two wolves struggling inside each of us,” the old man said.
“One wolf is vengefulness, anger, resentment, self-pity, fear . . . The other wolf is compassion, faithfulness, hope, truth, love . . .”
The grandson sat, thinking, then asked: “Which wolf wins, Grandfather?”
His grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

This blog is about the constant struggle. Mostly about mine, but then all the major themes running through my life are universal to everyone else. If my experiences are able to help even one single person find their way through the labyrinth of life, then I am better equipped to stand in the face of any adversity and say, "Bring it. BRING IT! And pack a lunch." Its not about me at that point. And for me, that is the point, the whole point, and nothing but the point.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nerds, corn, and dragons, oh my.

I had a funny sort of epiphany this week. The type of revelation that, in the true spirit of revelation, reveals to me yet another layer of armor that I had not previously been aware of that keeps me from being truly present.

Something this week that was meaningful to me was referred to as 'corny' by someone else. That same person also referred to the hobbies he had as a child, that he still loves to this day, as 'nerdy'. Things such and building models, reading, studying the dictionary. Quiet activities.

So I started thinking about this. The whole concept of 'corny.' Its a judgement, first and foremost. But a judgement of what? Usually things that are so fraught with significance that its obvious, and therefore embarrassing. We can not stand for anything to be blatantly sentimental. Billy Joel has a whole song about trying not to mess with a tender moment; it gets intense and he wants to do something to defuse it, say something silly or screw it up somehow. So now we seem to be programmed to avoid doing something that could be deemed 'corny', and that is pretty much anything where we let our guard down or say something sentimental that might not look cool.

I can't help but reflect on all the times in my life that i have wanted to say something entirely sweet or loving to someone, and, out of complete fear that it isn't reciprocated, or deemed corny and looking foolish, clammed up and said nothing. Fear! How much of my life has been dictated by fear? How many choices did I make to avoid being uncomfortable? Too many. I once couldn't fathom taking a risk of that magnitude. Now, I can't fathom not.

As for nerdy, yet again there is another judgement word for past times that are not deemed cool. Not deemed cool by who? I'm not really sure who makes these decisions. Perhaps any past time that involves solitude, or thinking, anything academic as opposed to ego serving, like shopping or doing drugs or making out, or which are not considered that which magnifies your gender's most obvious aspects- competitive sports, or cars or cheerleading. I am referring to high school because we carry those labels, and the fear of those labels, into our adult lives.

As my beautiful friend sat there, peacefully building models with his sons, he called it 'nerdy.' He said, "I used to love all this nerdy stuff when I was a kid." And I thought, well, no, I actually said, "No effing way, this is a valuable, quiet past time when alone, and something your sons will remember always. Its not really nerdy. Its fun and relaxing, isn't it? " And he was like, "Oh, yeah, you're right." And I was right, because he looked content. Moreover, he is showing his boys that its okay to have hobbies that allow for using hands, crafting, sitting quietly- no computer, no hoopla, just focusing on a project. That is missing in our culture- so much emphasis on interaction, and showing off that the value of focusing on a project or learning because one loves to learn in one's spare time is mostly lost. And just that one word- NERD, helps shut people out of that arena for fear of being judged. It got me to thinking about my childhood, spending so much time alone, reading all the time, building houses out of boxes and mud huts for crickets...nerdy. And suddenly I don't want to fight the label anymore. I want to embrace it. Emancipate it. Re-appropriate it. I AM A NERD. I AM A CORNY NERD!

I am a nerd. And I am corny. Because I will no longer be afraid to leave a tender moment alone, will not fear being vulnerable (or, if I do, I will just have to climb over it and stay present and take risks in spite of the fear), and I will embrace the quiet activities and solitude that nourish my soul and make me better company. It seems silly to have spent years avoiding these things because of labels concocted by pimply teenagers. Its crazy to me how we live at the behest of others, always seeking approval, always shrinking to fit the situation. But it is learning to identify the bars of the cages we build that is the challenge, and love is the thing that melts the obstacles that kept us small. There is nothing else more worthwhile than becoming more authentic, and more available to others. The process of self discovery is easily the most epic journey. It is what the old fairy tales meant by the slaying of dragons. Its why the dragons always needed virgins- the dragons of our psyche devour all our innocence and leave us trembling in fear. The hero's journey takes place inside. As they say, the longest and most epic journey one can take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.

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