The Authenticity Experiment, the bird edition. Last year in February, a few days after my birthday, I saw Stupid F#*@ing Bird at Portland Center Stage. I knew nothing about the play and expected a riff on Portlandia, but the play was a deconstruction and reimagining of Chekhov’s, “The Seagull.” I thought the play did such a fine job of capturing the complexity of human relationships and the mystery of the human heart, and the other confoundments we face in loving who we love.
As I sat in the dark theater and tried to stay present with the 8 characters on the stage—who continually broke the fourth wall—I found myself thinking about all the women I have loved, and why I have loved them, and how I have been compelled to love them even when I knew better. Even when the voice in my head said stay away from that one she’s dangerous or stay away from that one she’s so needy she doesn’t even want you to have a pet. But we can’t help ourselves when our hearts leap up or, rather, I can’t help myself. (My heart had just been stomped on—so this brooding which comes naturally, was even more present.)
My Wisest Mentor always reminds me that I am an intuitive and intuitives dwell in possibility. My challenge is to let that possibility stay possibility. Because possibility is not inevitability. It’s taken these last four years of dating to learn that elemental lesson, a lesson that I imagine physicists learn early on, Schrodinger’s cat and all that. Possibility is just one thing. Put another way, as my Wisest Mentor says, you can have everything you want, just not all at once.
I don’t know about you, but I’m afraid to let go of possibility, by which I really mean love—because what if it’s my only chance? What if no one asks me to dance again? What if this is the best there is? What if, as I used to tell myself, it doesn’t matter, because in the end, no matter who you are with, you wind up on the couch, in your underwear, watching Netflix. That’s the fear the characters face in Stupid F#*@ing Bird. And by not letting go, by wringing the life out of what isn’t working anyways, I kill any possibility
So, I’m trying to change my mind a bit, about life, love, and the end of love, and changing relationships. I used to think that when it ended, love just broke me. But instead, I am coming to believe that the end of love is breaking me open, forcing me to be direct and recognize that I really don’t have any control. A new friend said to me, “You can’t control who you fall in love with, but you can control who you give your phone number to.”
Control. This seems to be a theme. Its corollary is perfectionism and you know I’ve written a lot about that. I hang on tightly and try to control my world because somehow I think I’ll be safer. I’m learning that the reality is, if I’d just freefall, soar like the Stupid F#*@ing Bird and then pull the ripcord, I could look up and around, see the landscape, and guide myself to a better place, a softer landing.
I got a letter from one of my beloveds last month. She said, “I realize breakups get a bad rap because they are so painful and seen as a failure or something that is final…But I don’t believe that. I think it’s actually a healthy thing to take a step back and really look hard at what may be broken or what doesn’t work so you can either put the pieces back together and start again…really know what’s right or wrong [for yourself].”
Krista Tippett, in conversation with Brene Brown, said, “What goes wrong for us is part of our gift to the world. It’s what enables us to connect and be compassionate. That’s a lovely way to think about the hard, possibly excruciating upside of the fact that so many of us are struggling and suffering right now.”
Last year, I would have said that was cold comfort. But we can’t make art unless we’re broken open, unless we let go of the reins and lose a bit of control, unless we begin to tumble, unless we’re compassionate—especially with ourselves.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been freefalling. It’s why these posts have been more sporadic—because I’m freefalling in so many areas of my life. But I’ve pulled the ripcord and now I’m flying quietly, looking around, seeing where I might land—in life, in love, in art. The view is one of possibility, but where that possibility will take me is anyone’s guess—mine included.