Last evening. Yet another Friday night.
The debut of a university chamber orchestra. A big band. And, “The Music Man”, in concert.
Having failed to mark not one, but all three really worthy performance events on her calendar, she’d found herself in the kitchen – occupied with the contents of a voluminous, stale smelling cardboard box overflowing with charity collectors, mail order catalogs, medical documents, and receipts, material to which she would affectionately refer in disclaimer to visitors as her “household flammables”. And, emanating from the laptop, mounted on a chair to her left: Tara Brach’s podcast, Awakening Your Fearless Heart.
The latter being the primary intention, this belated sorting was a manifestation of necessary yang to Tara Brach’s yin; and, on this night, she’d forsaken a majority of her colleagues’ live musical offerings to position herself at home, as mediator.
Her house was a load, a prohibitively inhospitable space cyclically overtaken by stuff which could ignite in a heartbeat. These people who had long since graduated to online banking, online mailing, and online purchasing had left her in the awe of their wake. She was a pack rat, the residue of a generation doomed to save.
As she sat, self-righteously separating out the home improvement brochures from their neighboring Harvard health letters she attuned to Tara, who was underscoring these efforts with measured, modulated monikers for successful triumph over human failing.
Be Mindful. Be Present. Name the feeling; know the Fear. Call it out.
She knew what to call it.
You don’t begin life in the shadow of a much older sibling who happens to be male, the only daughter of two parents with diametrically opposed needs (inheriting the lion’s share of their strengths and weaknesses ) without learning to expect equal parts indoctrination, condemnation, and exploitation.
She knew fear. Knew it viscerally, in the cinematic mind inherited from her father, colored by the surefire flames of Hell and the rapturous hope of the heavenlies. She knew it in the sectarian dogma to which her mother had dutifully ascribed, pinning and then initiating her headlong into the warm fellowship of jealousy, envy, gossip, and slander. After all, if “come out from among them, and be ye separate, touching not the unclean thing” was the dicta, then surely all those found either haplessly or willfully just outside of the gate were of all things most contaminated and worthy of immediate rejection.
Decades hence, she would be the master of branding. She would know, in a millisecond, which sin-laden emotion drove any action – in both herself and, formidably, others. She’d learned at the feet of the Sunday School teacher, and the Gospel preacher, and the demons that left prints on all their glass houses. Tara Brach’s multi-headed gargoyle deities would have nothing on her scary story.
But, the guru of inherent good would not be moved – not by anyone’s notions of self-defeat. Brach, too, sat, presiding at a podium, smiling out across the unseen throng of attending participants and, in tones barely penetrating, gently gathered them all into direct self-confrontation.
She wasn’t at all sure she’d wanted a fight, that night. Trauma wasn’t something to be addressed in adherence to some syllabus. You didn’t relive its destabilizing pain in a conference room, or even a warmly lit kitchen. Only God as Infinite Wisdom would have known the protective power in a box of junk mail on any other evening.
Her recognition came in a flood. She allowed it. Inspecting, she both identified and then freely detached.
Anger at being displaced in musical collaborations was supplanted by her own creative efforts. Fear of being left out was diffused by the comforting company of her imagination. In short, by being present in the moment, recognizing her primary motivations, allowing their validity, inspecting them for corrupting influences, and finally submitting to the greater consciousness, she was liberated. Liberated, to clean the kitchen on a night when half the population was sitting in somebody else’s audience.
But, missing “The Music Man” ?
Regret. Transcending even guilt.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 5/14/16 All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect. Good night, my Someone.