Friday, December 16, 2005

cracked shells

does it get any better than listening to we major in the middle of the night, driving down broad street, towards the tall, lit buildings of center city after having shared my soul and after having hugged a roomful of people that i know i am proud to call my family? it's nice. niiiiiiice. and sweet. every poet last night became my hero. at one point, they took the time to try to understand and articulate emotion and observations and stories. that in itself is a fortuitous wonder. and then, to put the results of that effort together in such an entertaining way... it inspires me to keep writing, because if i can do for them and others what they do for me, then i can truly be of service to someone - of value to someone.

i think of who these people are and what we've been through. we are mostly the children of the working class or poor, many are fatherless, some are veterans - of the armed services, of college, of the streets, of the prisons, of the churches. we are veterans of rape, abuse, student loans, racism, spiritual disillusion, ducking cops, spiritual reincarnation, parenthood, marriage, divorce, substance abuse, community work... we bring our experiences together and enrich each other with where we've come from, and where we'd like to go - where many of us are actively trying to go. and whenever a sister lowers her eyes as she finishes her work and after i have finished remembering my life through her words, as she walks away from the mic, i am proud - proud of her, and proud of myself. and on the inside i am saying, "that's my sister right there." and when a brother puts the mic down after i have finished studying the movement of his hands and speculating on the source of his wisdom while he offers me visions from his own mind, i am proud of him. and inside i am saying, "that's my brother right there."

i want to hug the women, tell them how their beauty makes me feel beautiful too, reassure them that their light is bright, and that God loves them. i want to feed the brothers, hold them tight, and tell them that i - that we appreciate the manhood that they contribute, and that they shatter the world's low expectations for them. i may not go so far as to say and do all these things when i'm on my way out the door, but my hugs are real and given liberally, 'cause despite this wordy mind i have, i'm at a loss for words when i'm actually facing them. sometimes it's hard to tell another woman that you love her, or tell a man that you just love him - you know... politics, homophobia, caught feelings, people not being used to pure intentions. not to mention that i don't want people to think i don't use that word sincerely just because i happen to be able to use it for so many people. so i settle for, "good job," "thanks for sharing that," "i really liked that piece you did," or "i'm proud of you," "keep doing what you're doing." but i love them, and they help me understand the love of God more. regular imperfect people like them and myself are worthy of love for its own sake. what a beautiful lesson - learned, not cerebrally, but in deed and in truth, through these poets, who are just the kind of people you might pass in public and never learn their name or care about as long as they don't bother you.

i presently can't imagine the void that would happen if we silenced ourselves. these poets increase my faith in others, even those people on the street or in the store that i pass that be mean muggin. we're taught to do that - but maybe in the right environment and maybe if they're encouraged to share their worth, like the people i heard from at word 4 word and jus words last night, maybe those mean muggin people are beautiful too... it's a shame that being loving has to be pulled out of people. or camouflaged or shelved for more "appropriate," more "protective" behavior. these hard exteriors do us a disservice. they are each person's preemptive strike against an evil that they believe aims to steal, kill, and destroy them. i understand that, but i can't help but wonder what would happen if we stopped letting the news, which literally profits from displays of depravity, shape our understanding of the world? and what if we each gave other people a chance to signal either good or evil to our intuition before we dismissed them as another guilty-until-proven-innocent bystander? what if we developed the ability to be wary of the worst, without expecting the worst?

just some thoughts.