Yesterday, today, and the two before, were some of the most beautiful days San Francisco has had in awhile. The sun rose with no clouds to interfere, and unlike many of our Bay mornings, afternoons, and evenings, the sun actually gave off heat. Shorts were pulled out, sun dresses abounded, and sunscreen was remembered only hours too late. San Francisco has its problems, our “sanctuary” city is full of shitty-ness, but gratitude and revelry of a warm day never go unnoticed. Parks fill up, beer gardens become packed, and as we walk down the streets I find that our passing of each other––both in meeting and not meeting eyes––an understanding is had: we pass our strangers with a knowing that they too are refusing to take this day for granted.
When our micro climates reach beyond 70, I feel the entire city exhale. Windows open, doors become propped, and suddenly instead of a fast paced turn over, or a closing off, we inhale the light and warmth together. As much as we adore and bask in these heat wave days, I think a part of us cherish their infrequency. Could we sustain such joy and wonderment if this was typical? Would we remain grateful if around every corner was just “another park day?” Would Baker and Ocean reveal such sparkles if we were confronted with them on the daily?
Before these sunny days were bestowed upon us, I made a conscious decision with friends to abstain from our routines and our “no’s.” On and off I find myself discussing with others how we miss the days of reckless abandon, and we all decided we were due. Tickets to Beats Antique were bought, and concern over next day requirements were pushed out of sight. It is rare for me to take on the night without analysis of what the next day holds. And ironically by letting go of the future, I manifested a new one for myself. The night was spent meeting strangers, sharing laughs, dance moves, and smiles. The beat was sustained until the wee hours, and I not only danced all my baggage off, but got to release it alongside my friends who were doing the same. We walked out of their anew. I had been searching for movement for months, but unaware of just how much of an impact Dance would have when found.
The following days were ever brighter. I couldn’t help but dance to every thing I heard, and smile at every thing I saw. The clarity I felt inward was reflected with a perspicuity outward. Having a night to myself, with no attachment to outcomes or consequences sparked something. I could chalk this spark up to a multitude of things, but it has recently distinguished itself as: honesty. Before the sun rose, we didn’t want to force the night away with sleep, and we spent hours discussing integrity, life, who we are at our core. Of course while this was occurring we didn’t put these labels on these moments in time, but looking back this is what they reflect.
And what does this have to do with the warm weather? Well yesterday I met a friend for a glass of wine at Anina, a bar that beckons warm days and those who carouse in them. We sat at the front window, enjoying the rare-warm-San-Francisco-night-breeze and shared what had been playing out in our lives since last meeting. Each story was different, but we kept returning to this notion of clarity, honesty, and essence. The peak of this conversation occurred when we both began discussing how damn good it feels to be living in honesty, and to recognize and experience that in others. We were unloading this joy on each other not because the world abounds with it, but the exact opposite. It was worth gushing about because it’s refreshing, and not of the norm.
Why do we constantly skirt from the truth? Both at great lengths and also baby ones. When we don’t want to go out we give our friends made up excuses why; when we aren’t interested we create a narrative to deflect; our initial reaction is to augment the truth: is this for our benefit or someone else’s? I feel like we bog ourselves down with bullshit and then suddenly are entrenched in layers of it. It is no wonder we have outer pollution, when we are wrought with inner smog; or as Eckart Tolle sums it up: “the pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution: millions of unconscious individuals not taking responsibility for their inner space.”
I write this very much aware of my own honest deficiency. In fact, I recently had a deceptive interaction with a man I had been talking to at a show. He was visiting from Wisconsin and I was reveling in the fact that he was out at one a.m. without knowing anyone, in a different city, having had no drinks or drugs, completely present to his one night in town and what he wanted out of it. I was warmed by this, and felt grateful to be in such company as it felt pure, in every sense of the word. We talked for some time in between dancing, and at one point he came up behind me and put his hand on the small of my back in the middle of a song. My body immediately tensed up. I did not give permission for this, and unfortunately we live in a world in which both men and women think verbal connection entitle touch. I assumed he meant nothing negative by it, and because of this I had a hard time turning around and asking him not to. I was too embarrassed to embarrass him, so I forced myself to dance in an uncomfortable place. Had I simply been transparent and said “hey, I am enjoying dancing and talking with you, but please do not touch me without permission,” we might have deepened the integrity of our meeting. There are various routes my honesty could have taken us, and instead I pushed myself, and our interaction, into an un-genuine corner.
When we decide to be dishonest with ourselves and others, we disrespect all involved. By not speaking up to my dance partner, or being in integrity with myself, I created a space without trust. By not sharing with him, suggests that I didn’t trust he could handle my truth, and that I couldn’t. I assumed it would hurt his feelings or make him feel uncomfortable, and I chose to stew in my own uncomfortableness so as to not affect someone else. (How often do we do that as women? I know this is something I battle with daily. An inquiry for another post, but I see you, and think about you all the time). By not being true to myself, or him, I shattered the integrity and purity of the situation at hand. What if my honesty HAD for a second offended him? So what? At least I would be honest and then know I had no desire to dance with him at all. Had I said something he may have really appreciated the honesty, or it may have given him reason to never do that again without permission. Putting the variety of circumstances that could have been aside, my point is that I forged a fraudulence between us. Our interaction was no longer of two people really seeing each other and being present to that, instead it quickly became inauthentic.
Being completely honest with someone is not only respectful to yourself, it demonstrates that to them. When you can say how you feel, ask what you want, and are sincere, you distinguish that you trust that the person deserves your truth, can handle it, perhaps even revel in it, and be mature with what they do with it. You acknowledge the Being in front of you. And how beautiful it is to be entirely honest knowing it might create an uncomfortable moment, because what is more real than that? We remember our moments of embarrassment and utter honesty because they are REAL. We don’t recall our little lies or our moments of augment because they do not get at the heart and soul of us.
While I was sitting at Anina discussing all of this with my friend, I suddenly envisioned two bodies of water. One a crisp blue lake, where you look straight down at the water and see the bottom: the water is completely of itself, it has nothing contaminating its Being. The other was a murky swamp, and if there was a bottom to be seen, it was impossible. The water was no longer itself but mud, debris, trash, dirt. You want to jump into the lake, and you want to avoid the swamp. The lake is of itself, and reflects back the beauty and vision of all that looks upon it; the swamp is a mess, it smells, gurgles, and has no clarity to give back what one gives to it. So why do we carry these swamps with us? And why do we splash our murkiness on others? Murk stains, where water enriches. If we give ourselves and others honest and truth, they will take that in and have the capacity to reflect it back. I think it is imperative that we begin to take on the purity of the lake. The purity of ourselves, down to our very essence.
My friend and I began this conversation because we were discussing the beauty of meeting someone who truly shows themselves to you. They do not play games, they say how they feel, acknowledge what you mean to them, take a stand for themselves and their life. You don’t sit around wondering why they didn’t text back, or how they feel about you. It is perfectly displayed through actions and words. It is breathtaking when we encounter these people in our strangers because it allows us to do the same. It is a wonder to sit across from someone and truly see them, and know that they too are seeing you.
I write this piece to take a stand to be at cause with my honesty, and I invite you to do the same. The world needs people who are willing to say the hard thing, who live in truth, who choose to respect themselves and others by being in integrity. We have stewed about in bullshit of our own making for too long. This is our chance to change the course and truly see and experience each other. We have grave issues upon us, and as the question stands: how do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece; bite by bite. A part of us making a difference on this planet is changing how we interact and connect with one another. I pledge to take off the layers of fraudulence or dishonesty and create a space for myself and others to come as they are. Our interactions can no longer be swiping, liking, or double tapping. We must reach each other on deeper levels, we must experience the hearts and creative minds of those around us. Ask the question you are afraid to ask, say what you fear saying, speak up, say when you are uncomfortable, ask when you don’t know, look at someone and truly see them before you, not as you want them to be, or how they “should” be or who they are not. Just be with the Being in front of you. Let’s meet each other as the Beings at our core. We cannot afford to remain shallow with ourselves or each other. We must create bonds that politicians, bills, or executive orders cannot break.
Ever notice how when someone tells you something really personal, or vice versa, you immediately feel closer to them? That is the power of two people being present to truth and sincerely seeing each other. It is empowering to feel that bond being created, to be let into someone’s truth. It manifests a nonverbal contract in which each party is recognizing their faith in themselves and another. This is what inspires people, and changes them. This is how we forge our revolution: having the courage to be seen, and creating that space for another. This will be a team effort, and I invite us all to look around. But don’t just gloss over, really really look and see who is standing on the front lines with you. What is their story? What can you learn from them? How can you be in support of them? How can they be in service to you? What power can you create together? Where will our connections take us? We owe it to ourselves, and this planet, to stop covering ourselves up with excuses, lies, smog, and swamp. Let us truly come as we are and feel how potent and refreshing that is. Let’s pull the layers back and genuinely be in, and feel, the presence of another. We want peace, love, passion, and understanding on this planet? Well then you bet your ass you need to have a hand in that. Start with the next person you meet. Be honest, be forthright, demonstrate your respect for yourself and thus in another. Love yourself, show up, and do your part to create that space for a stranger, a friend, a lover. The revolution starts by unequivocally and wholeheartedly seeing each other.
“When you love yourself enough to stand in your truth no matter what the cost, everyone benefits.”
“We need smart people with huge hearts and creative minds to manifest all the wealth, resources, and support they need to make their difference in the world. We need people to feel happy and fulfilled and loved so they don’t take their shit out on themselves and other people and the planet and our animal friends. We need to be surrounded by people who radiate self-love and abundance so we don’t program future generations with gnarly beliefs like ‘money is bad’ and ‘I’m not good enough’ and ‘I cant live the way I want to live.’ We need kick ass people to be out of struggle and living large and on purpose so they can be an inspiration to others who want to rise up, too.”