We begin with the blank canvas. The naked body. And then...
We grow wings on our own bodies.
I have wings, like I'm strong, I can do things, accomplish what is beyond--what only exists in my dreams. But my wings are too small. They haven't grown to be what they were meant to be. They've been stifled, not even damaged or broken, they've just had a hard time growing. And so all I can do is look up, and hope. Or maybe strengthen them, so that one day I can indeed fly.
After I gave myself wings my mind quickly raced through with other ideas. Jokingly I gave myself a crown on my head, and it felt right. "I deserve this." I thought.
To be king. Seeing myself as important. As important as maybe I actually am. Every human is a king and queen in their own right. We carry strength, power, resiliency. And on many levels we decide and conquer what we can. For good or bad. With our consciousnesses we are free to stand up for ourselves, even when maybe that would make us a martyr. Do we have the strength and conviction?
And yet, we often use the freedom, the power we are each offered, the same way real kings and queens have used their power throughout history. To pursue only the pleasures and joys that we can have. To seek comfort and our own security, rather than lift each other up. Sure, those people has a bit more than we. More money, a couple more friends. Maybe not just a bit. Maybe they have a lot more money. But we still have the unique gifts, voice, talents, that are given to only us. Not only that, but we occupy unique spaces in both history and space. And in that we have power and abundance to give. We are made to give to back to our parents, friends, and communities. And to give to those who won't find themselves immediately next to us. Groups from other races, class, education, religious or national identities. If you are to be a king or QWEEEN, and slay, will you do it for good or bad? Are you brave enough to step into the reign that is already yours--your life?
Then I became bestial, barbarian. And gained wisdom, and old age.
As I grew up and entered puberty there was one thing I couldn't get off my mind: facial hair and body hair, including pubic hair which was the hardest to grasp and conceive of as something normal. I found my eyes constantly looking at the men and boys, teenager boys, around me. Looking at their cheeks, and seeing if they were growing it, and how much. Did they have leg air? Chest hair? Armpit? How much? What about back hair? If they were wearing short shorts, or Speedos, did the leg hair go up through the thighs like mine, or did it stop there?
It was frustrating to be in this place of not knowing what was normal. And the hair I grewwas already taking over my body. I knew I needed some hair to be manly, and maybe more straight-passing, and to feel handsome. But I also knew hair looked, felt, gross, dirty, not clean.
Hair, or really what is our snobbish way of saying "human-fur" was a symbol of masculinity. Especially regarding body and facial hair. Men were supposed to have beards, hairy armpits and hairy pubic areas. Women were not. And in being manly, I feel like there was also some connection there to two main concepts: beastliness and old-age. Both concepts which grossed me out, as much as attracted me, if I'm honest.
Bestial as in animals are furry, and so is man. Which allows, or gives permission man to be bestial. Less than human. To act out of survival instincts like violence, rage, fear. To attack. To be barbarian. Aggressive. Women weren't given the right to be bestial. Old-age, as in the white beards, and hairy nostrils and ears. It can give you wisdom, but in such gift you were also calling death closer. And so images of decay, decomposition, rotting were also evoked here.
I was so grossed out by these ideas, these intuited feelings behind body hair, but I was also attracted to it. The ability to not die, because you fought, crazy-mad-man-like, but you survived. Which reminded me of times where I gave in to my inner most anger and would finally lash out at my brother. Fighting him with claw and tooth, even if I was to loose. He would feel my anger, and my anger was enough for him to stop. Stop criticizing, or oppressing my own way of living. And attracted to that wisdom, knowledge: the coming of death and the peace knowing that death comes. The peace, of having seen, good and bad, and to have lived through it. Of being a sage, who knows that beauty is not found in joy or in pain, but in the fact of existence. Of being.
To me both the Barbarian and the Sage in me, ultimately, when I find peace with them, represent the dance we all must make with death. Of knowing it, and fighting it, and making our peace with it. The christian answer may have been that in such a dance, in the final surrendering, is when we finally win over it. I believe other religions and cultures also have found similar answers, and it's not an uniquely christian lens.
Am I an ocean? The sea? A river, a stream? Am I big, or small? Both, and?
Do I flow, do I flow, do I flow?
To connect with water is to see it not only as the source of life, but to see everything else it holds. From the peaceful frozen pond in winter, to the thrashing waves in a tsunami. To the riverbeds that ride under the earth, to the geysers shooting themselves against the sky as if to say "let me be a cloud already." To the rivers and streams that flow with ease, to the cascading towers that fall from above. And then to realize that this same water, everywhere and nowhere, is what gives us this precious life. There she is in us, and in the air, and in the fruits, vegetables and meats we eat. In flowing, moving, stopping. Water is magical, or so is what the moon, the clouds, and the sun say. And I believe I'm magical. Both solid, liquid and air, I am.
And in water we also find that which I cherish so: emotion. Feeling. Energy. If it wasn't for the emotions I carry I wouldn't get out of bed to say: life can be better. I wouldn't dream, and find ways to improve my own life. The emotions add spice and flavor, they add literally the emotion for living. May it's because at their core emotions, water, are a symbol of hope. Of believing in better.
We then expand, outwards into the space that we're given. We grow. Emerge. Flow. We fly. Live. Exist. We touch and are touched.
Enter into the spaces you exist in. Exist for existing. Show up. Show your face. And fail. And rise. And move. And combine your experiences, with those of others. And breathe in their thoughts, ideas, emotions, and breathe out the pieces of you that are ready. Finding self, finding identity, isn't just about you. It's you and the world and everyone you ever meet, run across, smile at.
Often we think that the person doing the most crazy, non-sense thing is living their truest self. And maybe that is true too. However, I understand ourselves only to really begin to find ourselves when we accept our environments, where we are, both in time and space, and the relationships that have indeed affected, shaped, and informed who we are. We as humans weren't made to be islands in space. We are as much as we are together. With one another. And that means being able to show yourself. To expand. So do it.
Then bring it all together. Bring it all into one. Unify the good, the bad, the smiles you have and the tears that roll on your cheeks. You may realize you are more than you thought.