I heard about a youth Slam Poetry competition here in town and I knew I wanted to take my daughter. I wanted my her to experience a place where kids express the hurt and anger and sadness and rage they are feeling. A place where no one tells them to be quiet or tone it down or make it pretty or palatable. A place where no one tells you to edit out the ugly parts. An outlet where you are encouraged to express what is going on, what you are feeling, how you feel in technicolor and with a blur of demonstrative hands.
I love the build up and fast pace and the escalating volume of power of pushing your words out from that sacred place where our souls resides. I held my breath as I took in each story, unable to really believe that these children could deliver so much emotion and tragedy without doubling over in pain. I wanted to rush the stage each time they finished to wrap them up in all of the love and peace I possess.
I didn't. But their friends and family did.
It was comforting to be in a tiny space full of feelers.
Even having found my tribe of women, I still feel like sometimes, most of the time, I am just "to much." It was energizing to be surrounded by so much accepted and anticipated emotional energy.
On our way home from the Poetry Slam, my daughter selected some sad moody ballads to keep us in that lovely emotional space. I love singing as much as I love writing. I am a loud singer and normally try to keep it under wraps when I sing with my daughter because she hasn't found her voice yet. She is a very timid, uncertain singer.
It was then, that the ugly thought surfaced. I was being too big, stealing the show, taking the lead. I throttled it down to allow us to sing as a complimentary duet, so as not to overpower her. Then I felt it, a flash of memory. When I was a child, my mother helped me find my singing voice. While I should have spent the rest of my childhood singing harmony with my mom and my sister, that is not the hand we were dealt. Adolescence ushered in the big hush or the time of silence in my life. Don't speak about what is going on at home. Don't trust anyone outside of our family. There were so many years where I sang, alone.
I started writing poetry when I was my daughters age. I had so much pain and anger and disappointment and fear and sadness and loneliness that I did everything possible to numb myself so I could get through each day. And as I was never quite certain if I would make it to the next day, I wanted to document my pain. Poetry was a vital emotional outlet for me.
My sister and I would both be grown mother's of our own children before we found our harmony. Now, when I sing with my sister, there is never a moment of holding back, from note one, it is 100 percent pure full on emotion. Everything is left on the stage.
I want my children to see that it is not only acceptable, but beautiful to give all that you are into each day; to live and share every last bit of emotion you can wring out of this one and only lifetime we are given.
So instead of toning it down, I need to remember to show them how much better life is when you live and share your passion. Even if your gift is merely being a story teller.