I started a painting several days ago. Unlike any I've ever done, this one didn't start with an image in mind, or a color, or even a necessary desire to paint. It started with a title.
"Because I (Fucking) CAN".
Let me temporarily derail: You are going to FEEL this title, you are going to not like this title, or you are going to be offended by this title.
If you FEEL it - keep reading. You're going to like this. If you don't like the title, just squint your eyes as you come across it and pretend it says, "Beautiful Unicorns (Frolicking) AHEAD". If it offends you, or you want to focus solely on my choice of words, I'm happy to discuss with you why I chose what I did. But you probably won't appreciate what follows either...so allow me to send you away from this post with great love and wishes for delicious coffee to follow.
That title guided every single brush stroke I made, every color I took, every swipe and delicate mark I made, every anxious breath I took while I was painting. It even took over my thoughts as I walked away from the canvas.
My little inner critic, being the bitch that she can be, often piped up, "well, just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD. Those colors don't go together. And the laundry is done. And for heaven's sake, go get your kids off of the computer. And *gasp* - don't use the word fucking in the title! How crude! You CAN do this painting, yes, but goodness, woman, be a bit more sensible here."
If you've read my most recent post, you know that I had little trouble ignoring her.
That's the fascinating and intoxicating thing about truth: The more I find it within, and the more practice I get expressing it, the easier it becomes to just LIVE it.
This painting is just one embodiment of that.
This painting (and post) will speak to you who feel that little fluter in your stomach when you read the title.
It will speak to you who have a history of people pleasing, who are still entangled in that addiction, who are longing to be able to free yourself from this self-made oppression.
It will speak to you who want to speak your own voice, but have spent so long telling another story that you've forgotten your own language.
It will speak to you who want to SCREAM right now, to say god damn it (or gosh darn it, by golly) YES.
Because you fucking can.
But before you run out your front door with your tutu and war paint on, pause for a moment. There are a few sneaky obstacles that I have faced that might trip you up as well. See if any of these sound familiar.
The Invisible Fight
I find this little rebellion of mine rather interesting. I don't live, nor have I ever, in an overtly oppressed environment. I am LUCKY. I am spoiled. I am blessed, fortunate, whatever. I am aware of this.
So fighting back against a world that hasn't even raised its fists towards me seems a bit odd.
And this is perhaps why I've stayed quiet so far. I didn't even realize there was a fight to be fought. (Those are the most dangerous kinds - when we are subdued into believing everything is okay. But I digress.)
The war against recognizing this power isn't like a war between two religions, nor between two neighbors over the dog that keeps barking. It is like a fervent argument with the child who just wants to touch the flame on the stove and starts whining because they can't.
This power is intelligent. It is much wiser than I am. When it awakens, I get uneasy. I want to reach out and touch the flame. I want to keep doing what I'm doing. I want to stay all cozy and safe in this world I've created, the one that has been there for me and made me feel all spoiled.
I don't mention it to anyone else because, most of the time, they want to stay nice and cozy with me. If I start the fight, it looks like I'm just boxing at thin air ... fighting a fight that, if you can't see it, appears pointless.
“And those who were seen dancing
were thought to be insane
by those who could not hear the music.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
No more pretending I don't feel this stirring inside. No more ignoring my own power, and those who are sleepwalking around me.
I'm renewing my faith in the intelligence of this power, and listening...
Power That Doesn't Look Like Power Should Look
Power doesn't have to LOOK powerful. Of course, I didn't always realize this.
When I felt this urge before, it felt like anger inside. Rage. So I naturally thought that the expression would look something like an angry, screw-the-world type reaction... that in order to keep feeling this, I'd need to walk around, head held high, hand held out with my palm in the face of all who would dare to challenge me, ready to defend myself, put-down or fight with anyone and everyone. God knows that's not the way I wanted to live.
So I'd repress it, ignore it.
But this power isn't anger. It isn't rage.
It's not a negative force unless I choose make it one.
If I were to truly embody this power today, I could see myself heading to Target and bursting out in song in the middle of the toy aisle (because you can't not see that Elsa doll and think of the song, and why not SING it instead of keep it trapped in your head?!). (Or maybe browsing the women's section and breaking out in, "The Thong Song". How hilarious would that be?)
I could see myself taking the hand of the cashier in both of my hands and just pausing to hold it and to smile at her and THANK her because she took the time to smile at me instead of just sliding my items across the scanner and brusquely telling me my total.
I could see myself giggling as I sped up and hopped my feet onto the lower bar of the cart while I rode it wildly down the empty aisle. (And then apologizing to, and laughing loudly with the person I nearly hit. Because we both realized how much they wanted to do it too.....)
The Ebb And Flow
I've also run into another challenge when I felt this powerful before: I eventually feel freakin' TIRED. Exhausted.
I was not just physically tired, but tired of fighting. I just wanted to settle back into how things were, to be happy with being content, complacent with being ignorant.
Those feelings were completely natural. The problem was my desire to keep fighting...to fight the feelings of wanting to relax.
We wake, we sleep. We eat, we digest. We work, we play. We inhale and exhale, we pause.
There is an ebb and flow to life and to the energy we feel and expend within it.
Sometimes I'll feel like singing at Target, sometimes I won't even feel like singing in my own shower. Sometimes I'll give into a 3rd piece of pizza, sometimes I'll stick to the salad.
The difficulty came because I kept fighting to keep things as they were.
I wanted to keep feeling powerful in the way that the power felt in that moment.
So if I felt like I could take on the world, I wanted to do anything and everything I could to keep marching to the top of Mt. Everest to plant my flag. If I felt like I was deeply in meditative peace with the flow of everything, I wanted to do anything and everything I could to keep the kids from screaming and my phone from ringing and my schedule from becoming too busy.
I recognize now that this power is not the like a weight-lifter's grip on the barbell, but the fervent strength of the tango dancer.
It's a power that moves, that flows, that runs at full speed and sleeps at depths that would make death question if he should knock on your door.
This power comes through taking over the world and through letting it be exactly as it is.
Don't try to understand this. It doesn't make sense.
Just FEEL it.
Still feeling a bit ancy?
Feeling that little turning in your tummy?
DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, right now. If I can get even one person to do something that moves them further into feeling alive, then I'll feel a bit of purpose in writing this post (beyond my own self indulgence).
Grab a piece of paper and write out what you are feeling. Stand up and stretch to the sky. Go to YouTube, look up your favorite song, and get down with your bad self. Take that damn nap already. Leave me a comment and celebrate with me. Go outside and take the biggest inhale you possibly can. (Super Bonus points to you if it is -4 degrees outside like it is here right now.)
Let yourself feel deliciously ALIVE.
Because you fucking CAN.