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day 1442: we are all indeed water, wally

I have been sitting on this post for some time - in part because certain themes - like the ebb and flow of a (mini) tidal wave, flirt with you, intentionally and begrudgingly over time.  They hover over you like the paw of an annoying but adorable cat.  And when this happens, you have to let the lines sit with you, seep into your skin, and then you just kick back while the words march out, all stacatto like, in a metronome delight. 

In the title of this post, I give homage to Wally Lamb and his novel We Are Water.  I am a Wally Lamb freak, to be sure; and while I adore the prose of I Know This Much is True, We Are Water evoked or perhaps more appropriately dislodged a series of emotions in me - some curious, some comfortable, and some entirely unsettling.  Beyond the story itself, the tale it weaves is one of the power of water, the way it can subsume you with the velocity of Katrina, or the way it can free you with the sublime of the ocean on an utterly peaceful day.  It is a power without limbs, yet it can grab you, embrace you, overwhelm you in moments you are least equipped to accept it.  And it reminds me that this is the grace, or the un-grace, of our lives - of the times when we are taken by surprise by ourselves, our leaps or non-leaps, our unspokens, our out louds, our demures and our on-tens.  And it provokes me to think about what would happen to the sea legs under me, to the moving walls around me, if every time I was about to return to the coda of comfort, I instead chose to go through fear. 

It seems no wonder that I started to put pen to paper on this piece after my first official rehearsal of Fear Experiment - a kind of double dog dare you approach of helping you Mr. Koolaid through your fear.  The way this works is that 30+ strangers are picked to dive into one of three art forms (this time around: a capella singing, storytelling and step dancing), practice for a few months, and then get up and (gulp) perform in front of 700+ at the Park West.  The good news is the audience is our collective friends and family - a very receptive audience to our effectively adult recital. 

In my sub-group of step dancing, there are 12 of us - a motlier crew I perhaps have never seen.  We are all at different stages in our lives, in our careers, in our healing, in our stories.  We are funny, and kindhearted, and social, and silly.  We are fearless, even the ones who stand in the back (often me); and we are broken, even the together ones.  And I am reminded that I am, we all are, a host of contradictions that when unpacked, can be the most delightful gift of all. 

With this as the backdrop of Fear Experiment, I’m even more grateful that The Cara Program has been chosen as this year’s Do Good Partner!  We share in the discovery that overcoming fear and recognizing the leadership within you is as much a part of getting back on your feet as is the process of getting a job.  And we’ll have the chance to share one student’s story on stage that night – to celebrate, alongside the 33 risk takers, the power of squashing fear and reclaiming your mojo in the process. 

So that I can level set expectations accordingly, if you join us in this evening, expect to be inspired, and expect us to have a blast, but know that I squarely understand what my day job should be.  I haven’t found in step dancing my “spontaneous genius”, as my friend Julie G would say.  But I’m cool with that.  Because what I’ve found instead is this desire to – as much as I fear water and am not the best swimmer around – stay in the deep end, and keep on keeping on.  I want to be the type of wife, daughter, friend, leader and colleague who embraces her not-so-spontaneous genius and works really hard at doing that which seems silly or hard or rough, because the pathway through the other side is filled with deep ocean faboo.

To my friend Julie, I say: I dig your not-so-spontaneous g.  And to my friends that want to know what unspontaneous genius looks like, please join me on November 21 at the Park West and together, let’s love up on the art of breaking through our fear.

Maria Kim