“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”
― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice
Loser shame…this remark shook me deeply today as I was trying to find relief for the feeling emanating by a small event on Friday’s night.
I realized I have been dealing all my life with shame; haunted by the fragility of my shell and clinging to the silent hope that it will end someday. I cannot accept my own mistakes and imperfections because it is like opening the door to the monster of “they were right;” I am a loser, a small being trying to play in the arena of the great talents and winners, with no other weapon than love and will.
How can I enter a world of “glamour and elite” if an unmerciful spotlight – as those in the towers of a maximum security prison – is chasing my every move, threatening to expose me as a fake!
Glamour? Elite? What in the heck am I talking about?
It is hell to step out and open your heart completely naked to others. It is harder when you secretly feel that you do not have the right to do it, you feel like pretending to be touched by the Gods and to be able to read their magic code. It is a game of life and death, all or nothing.
You have been accumulating the expertise and resilience needed to battle over years; it should be ready by now!
What is wrong with you?
It takes just a tiny moment, less than a second to understand you are not going to make it that day, is all blurred, lost, and you would have to face the audience and say, I am sorry, I cannot remember and leave the stage.
Yep. I messed up playing at an event.
It happens to all, not a big deal, people tell you and you smile and agree on the outside, while the inside is going through your toolkit of self- improving techniques and adult intelligent attitudes trying to shake off the empowered loser and the shame of not being perfect.
Yes, it happens! But it happened to you, and your entire story comes down, crushing you and speaking the many voices you tried to ignore while growing up, turning a life calling into an obsession or worst simple stubbornness.
Self-doubt emerges tall and strong. Back to the past, the starting point!
There are indeed Dragons living within…
At the moment I stood tall, went back to my seat and clapped and cheered the next player. Somebody in the audience asked the presenter if I could play another thing. I listen with horror.
The weird thing is that he said something in the line of – we know, or have been told (not sure) that she plays amazingly beautiful, perhaps she could play something else?…
Back to my old story! I don’t have anything else! Caught with the hands in the Cookie Jar again! You should have something else!
The school director asked me if I had the score, which I did! So it was settled that I will play again after the “Star” finish his presentation (this said with respect and admiration, I love the kid and is amazing to see how big he is in the literal and metaphorical sense of the word). I was actually embarrassed to play after him and to have a “breakdown” with him present…
The night went on. IF this was my old story, I would have left crying and completely distraught; this time I danced, sung and play the Cuatro (Venezuelan instrument) till the night was over. I was a life force life. I have to admit I am not sure if it was making up for something or just because I allowed myself to be seen and my shame to transpire openly and dissolve into my other selves.
When the time came to leave, a couple of women came to me. One of them told me that she had almost cried. That it was so emotional what I have played. I thought it was the first one, which went well! But to my astonishment, it was the one I had to read! Both told me how much I have touched them. I thank them for bringing me “back home” to a place of worthiness and compassion.
Still, I have been having real trouble to let this run through my system and heal the many wounds around my right to be a pianist.
During the weekend I have been moving around followed by the unrelenting dark cloud of failure. I have been turning my eyes away, focusing on making sense of the all the drama around a tiny experience than nobody but me seems to be fixed on!
Why is that, why do we cling to the horrors and overlook the gifts?
It is just me?
I imagine people commenting, whispering and even enjoying my “stumbling”. I see myself small and isolated. – “The world will not look at me the same. I just gave up my cover!”
Can you begin to understand the power of a story based on the belief that I am not good enough or worthy of the passion and wonder I feel for music and the way it touches me?
As I write these words in an attempt to atone for my weaknesses and imperfection, I can see clearly the exaggerated, almost hilarious script running through my head! Are you kidding me! No wonder why you are terrorized by and feel trapped by the gifts you love and give sense and purpose to your life.
It is such an unhealthy hate-love relationship constantly been fed by my inability to accept the fragility of life, to overcome my need of external validation and the fear to actually realize that “I am nothing!”
How much time of my life am I willing to sacrifice in the name of a personal image build upon fear, rejection and the “should’s” that will make me feel loved?
How can I expect to be loved for who I am, if I cannot love myself?
It is a long journey of compassion and innocence, a true leap of faith, the one I am taking to meet the girl, woman and soul filled with visions of magic, tenderness and amazement. The fragile creature who stands alone in the midst of her hopes and dreams, her strengths and vulnerabilities, and doing everything in her hands to be loved to feel worthy; is summoning the courage to move through shame and fear, self-doubt and criticism and stand up for her humanity.
Yes, I am afraid…
—losing my way.
—not being able to honor those invisible forces pushing within my soul and heart, asking me the last self-sacrifice, to show up raw, naked complete imperfect and to trust that somehow the light in me will fickler and connect with others.
I am afraid…
—that I will ever be able to grasp and express how unbearably and beautiful is to be human, to love what all your heart, to dream the impossible and to bear a life that does not match my expectations.
—to admit I stop breathing every time the thought “I will never make it” enters my mind.
—the feeling that whatever purpose or heroic path the Universe entrusted me with, it forgot to bestow me with the necessary weapons (magic or not) for the task.
What if I am just a shell of strength and accomplishments hidden a weary pantomime plenty of losses and failures?
I am just a human being admitting how hard is to be one; how much I long my life to be meaningful and easier. How much I dread to show up and be rejected. How much I long to belong and be remembered… to know that I truly exist and there is reason for me to be here.
I long for someone to believe in me, even when I give in and turn my back to life; someone who knows what I am going through and points at the sun, the stars or the bright moon on a dark night…
Someone different than me…
I want so much for my students, for the people I love, for the world as a whole, for nature and the future!
How can this simple and small woman aspire to inspire others to keep the light glowing if she is fighting to keep her own coal burning?
Perhaps just admitting here that although my life might not be the example of strength, accomplishment and courage I ask for it to be; I wouldn’t trade any of those invisible moments – sometimes tragic, sometimes magic – when I enter the sacred and touch the infinite… Those fleeting moments when my soul and I seem to walk as one and I know all is right…
There is such love and surrender… I then understand why a Higher Intelligence would like to become human and experience life; why unlimited divine sparks take refuge in mortal temples and patiently await to bloom.
—I am willing to risk to be seen without disguises.
—I am willing to move back on stage to voice the wonders and beauty of the extraordinary and the ordinary dwelling in the soul – mine, yours, the world’s…
—I willingly sacrifice my dreams of perfection, the ego’s shell of “having it all figure out” and offer the imperfect and brutally honest song of a human being committed to just BE…
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
May I find the poetry in it,
May you find the poetry in it,
May all living beings find the poetry in it…