Monday, 20 December 2010

What you can't meet in yourself: The Dark and the Light

One of my favorite 'therapy speak' expressions it this: What you can't meet in yourself comes to meet you. I've been pondering this lately as a series of interesting people and situations have been showing up to shake my hand.

First, there’s the matter of a guy I recently had a date with - my first since being single again. We had a nice time chatting over a beer and seemed to connect well. Then? Nothing but text messages - no invitation to meet again in the flesh. I was confused but figured it must mean one of two things: Either this is how dating is done in 2010 and I’m not playing the game right (let’s face it, the last time I was single I didn’t even have a cell phone!), or perhaps it was a reflection of my own reluctance and capacity to form an intimate relationship right now. Most likely it’s a little of both.

The next bit is pretty embarrassing to talk about but - gulp - here goes. You may recall that I’ve always been a bit of a “good girl” – easily shockable and quick to blush - so imagine my surprise when the aforementioned texting all turned a bit, well…sexy. I knew that the man in question had an undeniable fascination with the “dark side” that included an appetite for classic guy stuff like war and superheroes, but the naughty messages caught me completely off guard. It was perplexing that it could go from texting to sexting without even a first kiss, but I tried my best to check my judgement. This took the possibility of flirting and fantasy to a level I didn’t even know existed (except on paid chat lines) and revealed that I was far more game and able to meet him half way then I would ever have imagined.

Nothing came of our flirtation, but it left me with a much wider and accepting view of human sexuality. Hey, if it doesn’t hurt anyone and you’re both consenting, who am I to judge what you get up to in the privacy of your bedroom (or mobile phone)? An eye opener, to be sure, and yet I think I’ll hold out for in-the-flesh intimacy.

The next how-do-you-do arrived in the form of music. Not just any music, but live, acoustic music performed by impossibly talented young musicians. I had forgotten how much I love live performance and surprised even myself when one artist (who I wouldn’t have looked twice at on the street) stepped up to the mike and let out a voice so pure and raw that I started to cry. His talent sprang straight from his heart without a hint of self-consciousness and it was utterly moving.

The place was teeming with an under-30 crowd but rather than feeling out of place I felt, for the first time in a long time, at home. I recalled the odd combined sensation of nerves and bravery from when I too used to get on stage either with the jazz choir in high school or later with a rock band and bass guitar. I never felt more true to my authentic self as when I was making music, and yet I was never able to offer myself as completely as what I witnessed that night. Perhaps that is what touched me so deeply - the pain of acknowledging my own terror of being so exposed and vulnerable, while longing for it at the same time.
The array of talent that night nudged the shy, sleeping musician in me and beckoned it from the shadows. I haven’t got a clue what form it might take, but it will be braver than before. 

Another month or two wiser, I’ve learned to love just a little bit more of my shadow from both sides of the dark and light camp.  I've also learned that confidence is a muscle that shrivels without exercise. Thankfully, it's never too late to start doing a few pushups!  With every epiphany that life serves up I feel another piece of the puzzle-that-is-me fall into place. And thankfully I am learning to meet it all, palm extended, heart open.