My inner parent—not my parents but that invisible close relative, told me that I should NOT send out a blog with “hard-ons” in the title. Then this morning I received an email from a good friend with an essay by Anne Lamott about the fourteen things she "knows" on the occasion of her turning sixty-one. For the record, Anne Lamott is one of my heroes—she’s my kind of Christian. If you aren’t familiar with her, check out her essay. Anyway, this is what she said about writing “Shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart — your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.” I’m taking this as a message . . . here’s my hard-on blog.
I should write today. I need to write today. What's wrong with me, you lazy, stupid, joke of a writer?
The voice is so clear and yet rather than acknowledge the crossed arms and defiant glare, I find so many wonderful ways to distract myself from my inner insolent teenager. You may know this art form as procrastination—the dust bunnies under the couch suddenly are explosive devices that need to be defused, this very keyboard is only too happy to take me places I never knew I wanted to go—a merry-go-round of stuff, people and information; one more click, really, just one more! I choose spinning in the same place over moving forward. What would happen if I got off this dizzy ride of distractions and just sat with my recalcitrant adolescent? What does he have to say that I can’t bear to hear? With a quiet mind and receptive heart, the monster would most likely be defanged. Rather than something powerful and horrible, I’d probably discover that the pimply-faced, awkward boy-man is just scared.
When a young child discovers his or her body, particularly their genitals, there is no shame, no fear, just awe for the unexpected surprise. Perhaps our bodies are a metaphor for our life journey and sadly as life happens we move further and further from that unadulterated place of joy and possibility. Take for example those damned thirteen-year-old hard-ons. I’d give anything for a few of those instant woodies today but if I looked back into my thirteen-year-old eyes, I wouldn’t see much pleasure or adventure. That symbol of male potency was anything but—with my teenage brain, Christian guilt and zero sex education, it was just scary. It could spring to life without notice, answering to a call that was both confusing and disturbing. It felt like the world was watching . . . and when I joined the wrestling team, they were! Suited up in a skintight purple wresting leotard there was nothing left to the imagination. And to add insult to injury, I was convinced that I was suffering alone. Little did I know that all the jokes and crotch slaps (that strange ritual of teenage boys) were a mask for the collective terror of getting caught with a spring in our jockstrap. Adolescent fear is not merely about what is but god forbid, what could be. In a world spinning out of control, safety is about crossing one’s arms and doing nothing.
Fear holds me in the very places I don’t want to be. Its seductive voice says you might not like where you are but you are going to like being somewhere else a lot less. While I aspire to be an active agent in my life, I am terrified of the possibility. Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Perhaps fear is not something to be solved but rather something to sit with under really good (non-fluorescent) light. What if someone had sat with my terrified thirteen-year-old and told me I was OK . . . just as I was? What if someone had assured me of God’s loving gaze even as I waded into the murky waters of my sexuality? What if that someone is now ME? When I feel the yearning to procrastinate, what would happen if I stopped and listened? And rather than lecture, correct or discipline, what if I simply held my scared, skinny, teenager’s hand?
Daily Bites and Blessings
Welcome to "Daily Bites and Blessings." Pull up a chair. I’ve set a place for you at the table. These edibles are sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and often they are both. This is a come as you are party. I invite you to bring your compassion, courage, and curiosity as we dine together on life's bounty. May our time together give us more light and more love.