today i learned about the birds and the bees
for the plants and the trees and the squash
blossom. yesterday i thought all flowers were
girls, yellow and star-faced and turned
to the sun. i harvested men secure in their beauty,
and widowed their women, green bellies swelling.
Apparently you can eat squash blossoms! What a wonderful world!
today my mother danced
while singing "hula hands"
after a song I sang about
we took time to laugh
at our dog, Bamboo,
and Katie gave me a list
of her chores to do.
(Because I was too lazy
to buy her birthday things,
I made her coupons
for indentured servanting)
some evenings are pleasant
as presents can be,
wrapped in disguise
of the ordinary.
This one a day thing is harder than I thought. I guess it is good to be forced to write something off the cuff....depending on what this blog is for which I haven't really figured out yet, but for now, this is what I've got! I really am grateful for my family. It feels like one of the only places in my life right now not up in the air.
My sister is getting married soonish, and there is a lot of anxiety around everything being "perfect." Not necessarily for my sister, but there's a nervous energy around the whole event for a lot of people in white, suburban culture that she is surrounded by in this process from the florist to the bridal shop. Everything must be run, well, like clockwork. Sometimes there is a sigh at the end of a wedding day, not in joy, but in relief that nothing went wrong. I could probably take a couple pages out of another culture's book. It's such a different mindset from my own, but it's really wonderful. Actually my sister is probably way better at this than I am. I just don't care about wedding decor. (By the way, the story is from an actual wedding today, not even the rehearsal!)
I am not going to say it doesn't exist. It definitely exists. Or only shallow people can't stand the quiet. Or that our culture is too noisy. I am going to say, however, that true awkward silence is more precious than we think. That it is a prison that ought not to be hastily escaped.
In an improv scene, there are moments when you realize someone should say something or moments after someone did say something, and it was a bit....off. Do not be afraid! Step into the moment and try to weave the off-words back into the fabric of the scene by making the tangent long enough to loop back and add interest to the pattern. At least, that is what I've been taught, but it does not come naturally. However, there is redemption even in the unsuccessful attempt. People have done it for me.
A pregnant pause that is barren adds weight to the words that break it. And every second that ticks by adds more meaning. That is why perhaps it is so scary to break! Because no question seems heavy enough to break through, for example,the blind date quiet. We sit around, pushing our peas, afraid that after our meager question, the one word answer will make the silence even heavier. Sometimes after a few of these attempts, the awkwardness becomes palpable like a thick suffocating blanket.
At this point, there are those who choose to acknowledge the awkwardness, hoping through some meta-conversation about the conversation, laughter will aright the flagging ship. Sometimes this does happen, but mostly, I think it is a bit cowardly. Plus it assumes awkward silence is inherently a bad thing, as opposed to an exhilarating intersection in a conversation with 1,000 different roads to walk down and a brief moment to choose which one to take, rather than just letting the conversation take you places, which is albeit more comfortable, but usually ends up in you telling an anecdote you've told a million times or talking mindlessly about movies. Not that those things are inherently bad either, but perhaps the awkward silence doesn't need breaking as much as we need to allow it to break us. Out of our habits, out of our normal mode of speaking in which we easily forget there is a consciousness looking and listening back at us. It awakens us to that deafening roar on the other side of silence, gives us a moment to breathe, and then speak life to the face of the Other, receiving life from them.
Slowly, we learn to catch each other, and the silence becomes less and less awkward and more and more comforting, making us wiser. Quick to listen, slow to speak. If awkward silence is a hole we are falling down, it is a lot less anxiety producing if you know at the bottom you won't die a fiery social death, but will land on feather pillows in a room you've never been before. Maybe you'll like it, maybe not, but it's worth the attempt to push through, to hear and love the stranger at the party who you apparently have nothing in common with.
May we have the grace not to desperately seek common ground or an excuse to leave but to tread lightly on another's uncommon ground, enjoying the new roads or rooms and savoring the kind of redemption that only awkward silence can bring.
Today I found a journal entry that reminded me of a time I was bawling so hard it felt like my eyeballs were going to pop out. There were two people there praying with me and they kept saying, let it out, not into the air but into the side of Jesus. And so I did. I let it out, not to be dissipated into the universe but directly to Christ. It is not often I feel so strongly that my words are going straight to the Divine Ear that is closer than the mouth that cries them out. Often I imagine all these filters, films, barriers, the requests traveling through a maze, half of them getting lost in translation, getting lost in the mail, lost in the midst of a million prayers rising up. But if the next words on your tongue were heard by the Creator of the Universe, the Sustainer of all Things, the Lover of your Soul, and you knew that you knew that He was listening, what would you say?