I had a momentary indignant reaction yesterday.
I tend to spill over with words when my indignant string is plucked, which is why the following was accordingly posted on my facebook page:
“I sometimes think the more people present as having it all together, the less likely it is they actually have it all together. I actually don’t think I know anybody who has it all together, and if they say they do, I usually don’t trust them.
It is scary to risk vulnerability and talk about what’s really going on, but I think even scarier is to go through life faking it, faking yourself- for then we become enslaved to everybody’s impression of us, and we are really not free at all, but chained to an image.
I don’t know that this world needs any more shiny, packaged, polished presentations of self. We’ve got all sorts of people walking around doing, “fine”, “good”, “loving life”, when they are a compartmentalized, shut down mess inside. We need more compassion, more softness, more honesty. A lot less armor. More people with the courage to be real. More people with the courage to not always be shiny.
Shallow living and faking good doesn’t heal hearts.
Love heals hearts, and to love is to be vulnerable.”
It was really a very small thing. A picture of a heavily muscled female body builder who runs an inspirational page using pictures of herself, motivational quotes about hard work, no pain no gain sayings and the frequent caption of “I love my life.”
It wasn’t so much the body building part that got me. Though I have to admit I don’t really understand the nature of that sport, I am a female athlete and absolutely believe women can and should do whatever they want.
If that means pumping iron and eating nothing but chicken, protein shakes, and kale, well that is their own powder loaded green smoothie to drink. There is room for us all.
The discord was the glossy image, the impression management, the shiny package. I had a visceral reaction of repulsion to what the picture seemed to represent. All those hard angles and planes on the body, in the words. There is no weakness found here.
I understand this kind of extreme athleticism and packaging can motivate and inspire. Perhaps I am a reactionary, overly critical, inspiration snob, but as I looked at the image a very tender part of myself kept cringing and turning inward.
The phraseology, the physique, the insistence on loving life… nothing seemed authentic.
That’s about the time I felt like somebody was making a mess of the dark, heavy notes of Beethoven’s Fifth with my heart strings, and I felt the need to turn on the dulcet tones of a Chopin Nocturne to try and bring soft light into this space.
I felt a sense of awed despair.
Is this what motivates people?
I know it is, because I see similar pictures over all kinds of media sites with rigid, unforgiving words attached that suggest success comes in the package of a hard body, beating any weakness or negativity from your mind, and carpe dieming the f out of each day.
What about the softer side, I thought.
Is there any room for that?
What about embracing your all and being real.
What about creating room for the doubts, negative thinking and uncertainty about the human existence, and simply greeting those experiences as old friends who have something to share instead of trying to banish them off our properties.
What about the hard days where you don’t know if you love your life and instead settle for just getting by and having the courage to keep going.
I don’t know that I can always say that I love my life, but I can say I am in a love relationship with my life.
Some days I love and cherish the beauty and majesty of each wonderful tiny moment.
Some days I take it for granted, get lost in my head and struggle to attend to each moment.
Some days I think it sucks and I want to return to whence I came and demand a new assignment other than the one I’ve been given in this space and time.
To me, loving life isn’t something you need to go around heralding. Like a young couple’s early proclamations of undying love, who publicly post countless pictures and terms of endearment to mask the absolute uncertainty and insecurity that comes with the flood of emotions in a new relationship; I tend to question flash and no substance.
I think really loving life is a continual relationship we develop with our existence.
Marked by ups and downs, punctured by aches and pains, sustained by resilience and beauty and choosing to engage with life day after day. It is letting our softness chisels away at our angles and planes making us gentler, wiser, more compassionate, more rounded.
If you think about it, this is what love is. In any relationship. A continual commitment to engage with the whole of whatever or whoever we are relating to. It is open, adaptable, and gracious. There is room for the whole of the experience, not just the parts we like.
Angles, planes, softness, and all.