On a summery Friday night, heavy, and perhaps even torrential, rain storms were in the forecast. However, Mother Nature had rebelled and created a milky and misty night sky without a moon, stars, or any raindrops to be seen.
Underneath the skies above stood a small little house that overlooked the seemingly serene Hudson River waters. In the small house were at least thirty faded-faced strangers clustered tightly in upright cushioned armchairs. Only slants of shadowy lights cast over each person, creating outlines of the eager eyes and perked ears to hear what needed to be heard.
In this house was me standing behind a podium with a single spotlight that bathed and illuminated my face and the contours of my body dressed in a lacy black dress. This “Open Mic Night” to complete my “Live List” item task to read my writings to complete strangers was about to commence. It was time. It was now. I was ready to reveal my soul.
I had only one thing in common with these strangers that sat in a semi-circle before me on this incandescent night: the love affair with words that were to be shared with others. I may never see these people again. I may see them again. But, no matter what, just for tonight, we were not strangers. We were friends bound and bonded by words.
Before I opened my mouth to speak, I blinked through the blinding spotlight to gratefully glimpse the front row where my two friends had shown up as staunch supporters. One who gave and still gives me the gift of knowing her just about forever. Another who gave and is giving me the gift of getting to know him. With last looks at them just before I was about to read, the nausea I had since morning and the need to vomit from nerves were slowly dissolving. The rapid flutters were slowing their speed and now only humming rather calmly in my tummy. All my fears and inhibitions were dissipating.
The last thing I heard in my head was my friend who had asked me earlier that day: “You’ve done plenty of public speaking engagements before, so why are you so afraid of reading your writing, Mary? What are you scared of?”
In that moment, the answer to her question was as clear as day to me with a reasonable thought also swimming alongside it, “Nothing. I cannot be scared of anything when there is nothing to be scared of and nothing to regret.”
With hands clasped behind my back, my mouth opened to speak the writings that I had chosen to reveal my soul—to reveal me. My voice that I was certain would vibrate with trepidation seemed steady, strong, and slow in my ears. In the darkness where I could barely see anyone, I tried to fulfill eye contact that had always been the first point of connection with another human being. In every word I spoke, I could feel the revelation of my soul slowly blossoming and blooming to every single person in the room. But, more than that, I could feel my soul being revealed to me.
In these 5 minutes, time stood still for me. All the anticipation accompanied with physical, mental, and emotional troubles washed away. All the aftermath that would follow was a distant reality in my mind. In a room full of people, I had never felt so full and at home with the words that I had written from all that were felt in the depths of me.
I do not recall when I had written boldly on my “Live List”: Read my writings to complete strangers. Nor can I recall why it was on my “Live List.” My friend questioning me: ‘What are you so scared of?’ shed light to the real answer. In fact, I had known the answer all along as to why I had been so scared (petrified even) to read and share my writings to others.
In short terms, I was scared to show the very in-depth part of me to the public that only my writing revealed. In very short terms, I was afraid to reveal my soul.
All these years behind my smile and perky high-pitched voice laid the expressive and emotional angst that flooded out in my writing. For as long as I could remember, writing had been my constant and loyal friend for me, myself, and I. Writing is a very solitary journey and experience and had always provided me with the therapy and outlet for me to just be me.
I had rather recently openly shared my writing to the world to read, but had hid all this time from the world to hear. If I was really honest with myself, I did wonder and even care how people received my writing that revealed the angsty part of me that not many could handle and were even surprised about. Now, this big part of me (the core of me) was now clawing at me to be shown and shared. It was time for me to listen and fulfill.
All the anticipation and the aftermath of the “Open Mic Night” has really solidified for me that it takes courage to really and truly show the depths and the intricacies of real feelings, emotions, opinions that lie in the soul. What started out as a mere “Live List” item to complete has now made me feel an even stronger force to fear and regret nothing and to openly receive the gift and badge of honor and strength that derives from revealing the real and all of you—especially the parts that most cannot accept and handle, or, if you are lucky enough in this life, the select few who can. Words are meant to be spoken, shared, and said and not merely just written and, most especially, felt. I have received the great gift of people reading my writing. Now, I wished for the world to hear my writing that can only happen from me speaking and sharing. Now, I wish the world to feel my writing.
On a milky and misty moonless night under the glow of a spotlight and at a podium in front of writer strangers, I had fulfilled yet another “Live List” item only to take away with me more living than ever before and questions to present and make you ponder just a bit:
Do you have the courage and strength to “reveal your soul,” especially the parts that most cannot accept and handle? When have you really been YOU to others?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,