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Will You Let The Naked Animal Trumpet?

For seven months, I have been frozen in writer’s Siberia. As a coach, I talk to myself as though I am my client. I ask all the relevant questions. I explore and encourage and sometimes poke. I’ve even resorted to flagrant bribery. I have found it fascinating (and at times depressing) to watch myself as a friend might, stuck in an ice block while carrying in my right hand a basket of kindling and a lighter with adjustable flame.  Instead of striking the flint, I wrap my arms more tightly around myself and try not to think about the frost accumulating on my skin. 

There are so many opportunities to stay stuck.  I don’t have enough time. I have too much to do. My child, job, parent, community, or third-cousin-twice-removed needs me. I might fail. I might succeed.  And the next thing you know, you’re in the pantry, knee-deep in expired canned goods that must be extricated today.

These are the All-You-Can-Eat buffet of seemingly important, socially accepted blockages that we call reality. No matter how pressing our reasons appear, they are clutter. And if we’re not careful, we will wind up hoarders, smothered in the blockages that keep us from being fully alive.

Today, I had to ask myself the hard question: Do I want to be fully alive? Without hesitation, most of us would cock our head and say “Of course!” But in that moment when you have to break out of the bud, are you willing to risk being vulnerable?

When I lived in San Francisco, I was part of a Women’s Circle lead by the gifted Sabrina Chaw whose evocative methods connected people with their innate wisdom. Every other Monday, twelve brave women got together for three hours to communicate without the aid of words. Although I had lived in New York City for nine years and thought myself fearless, I can fairly say that it took herculean courage for me to even walk through the door each week.

One evening, Sabrina began “Share how you are”.  We could not speak, we could not act it out; we had to embody the feeling.  This is much harder than it sounds, trust me.  And I wondered if a lifetime of responses like “fine” or “good” had stripped me of my ability to actually know how I was.

The woman to my right began. Almost immediately, a wave of pain washed down her face, her mouth pinched and twitched, angry splotches rose red along her forehead and cheeks, and deep, wrenching sobs spilled into the room. She held herself open, allowing us to see through the windows of her eyes to the profound sadness she had been carrying.  I was glued to her, astonished, and terrified.

As each woman went within to share a hidden piece of herself, I fought against the desperation swirling wildly in my brain. I can’t do this.  I’ll pretend to go to the bathroom and run out the front door. Finally, I landed on tired. I would show up as tired, convincing myself that it was true and therefore not a cheap excuse to escape. But the woman just before me was apparently tired, too.

It was my turn. I closed my eyes to be alone with the hulking discomfort. I could hear the clock in the next room clicking seconds. I went to my breath, holding onto it like a banister to steady me.  My chest started to move, slow at first then with the exaggerated ripple and flex of a flutist’s serpent. I gripped the muscles of my abdomen hard, pushing the air from my lungs into jagged bursts.  Sounds rose out of me, strange and haunting.  I could feel a force rising up from my root. Childhood voices wagged big fingers in warning of the inappropriateness of what was about to happen. I stood at the door, hesitant, wanting to throw it wide.  A rush of fear:  would they be appalled if I let this thing, this belligerent monstrous force out into the room?

A woman asked if she could hold me and then another, and another. They surrounded me, caressing my arms and my head, supporting my middle, weaving me into them.

I leaned my head back and let it come.  A roar, a mighty inhuman blast bellowed out of my mouth, out of my fingers and toes and from the strands of my hair. I raged. I purged all the anger and sadness and loss and longing I had been carrying. And the women stayed, one collective body, holding me until I finished.

I sat panting, shocked by my own admission. I ran my hand down the length of my arm, checking to see if I was still attached to myself. Then a rush, cool and delicious moved into the empty space I had cleared. Bravery. And Love.

Breaking through the dam of fear opened me to the truth. Fear is the doorway. To do meaningful work in the world, we have to break it open, to splinter and re-form as something new.  If we let the blockages stand in our way, we will never be witnessed, never know our Selves, never feel the powerful flow of alignment.  In that stripped down place where our most tender being lives, we hold the spark of possibility.

Today, I go back to that moment of courage and it reminds me why I write. I write to share; I write to help people know they are not alone;  I write to give people the courage to shine brightly. And I write to leave a small piece of me behind. Risking the breaking open is the gift that sings back to me from the page.

Writing is hard for me; I have to work at it.  I wrestle the structure that anchors creativity. I doubt myself. I run from the vulnerability I must be willing to hold to say anything worthwhile. But when I stop fighting, I realize that the words are the truth of me and the only thing that will bring me peace.

This is what we most long for. This is why we dare.

What will you give birth to today? What is that wise voice within you saying? What are you willing to let go of to bring it into being?

Unblocking takes courage. You have to let the naked animal trumpet.

                                          Will You Let The Naked Animal Trumpet?


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. ashley #

    What does it mean to be ‘fully alive’? Maybe that one’s sensorial, physical, and emotional bravery knows no bounds? Is it a feeling one taps into every now and again, like coming up for air? Or is it a way of living, a skill that one hones over time? And once you’ve got it, are you more connected to everything-people, places- or a bit less?
    Lovely passage. My favorite part is the one about us being ‘hoarders, smothered in blockages’.

    November 29, 2012
    • ooohhhh. Great questions, Ashley. I believe being fully alive is a practice that we live into and build like a supportive muscle. Over time, our vibrancy baseline raises and we are more deeply connected and our lives have greater meaning. The small moments register, the unimportant things drop away more easily and everything becomes more savory.
      I’m designing a workshop for women to live from a more fully alive, ‘turned on’ place. Please keep the thoughts and questions coming. They are wonderful food to chew on!

      December 3, 2012
  2. Ruth Szechenyi #

    Your pure honesty is refreshing and completely inspiring. Give me more. Xoxo

    November 29, 2012
    • Thank you, Ruth. And thank you for being part of these important conversations!

      December 3, 2012
  3. Kassie,
    I love the story of the SF women’s circle so much. What a gift to have been a part of that, and to have had the breakthrough. These images you have chosen are perfect. Thanks so much for writing and posting, beating that fear.
    Love, Nerissa

    December 4, 2012
  4. Obviously you have nothing to say (ha!) and inspiring others is a hard won privilege (ha!) thank you kassie

    December 5, 2012
  5. Sarah #

    Wow Kassie, thank you for writing this, it has really helped me!

    January 20, 2013

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