this holiday season, don't force the flower.
deep thoughts of the day, from deep in the flu-bed…
“I have a friend who’s struggling with a particularly nasty addiction. He will be discharged from a mental health facility tomorrow, back to homelessness. I am anxious and afraid and I don’t want him to die.
These two sentences meant everything to me today.
this was a comment & photo on a post a few days ago from terra salinas on facebook.
the passage in the book is about learning, as a street performer, to let go of those who don’t want the gift, don’t want the connection, don’t want the art, don’t want (let’s just go there) the love.
not in the way you’re packaging it, at least.
one of the anthony-isms that i realize i left out of the book is tied up with the same theme, and it’s worth sharing, especially around the holidays when everybody gets braced up for gatherings, old pain and drama, healed wounds poked open, and all that.
it’s a sentiment that i find myself feeling very deeply at the moment, and one i find myself saying to friends all the time, lately, because everybody i know seems to be going through the wringer right now:
“just because a message isn’t received, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth delivering”.
in other words, say it anyway: even if they don’t have the capacity to hear it or understand it, or embrace you, or hear you, or forgive you for not being what they want, for not being able to help them, love them, in the right way.
say it anyway.
say it for you.
they may not take the flower.
but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth stretching your hand out to offer it.
you can’t change others; you can’t save others.
sometimes it’s just the act of stretching your hand out, and seeing your own effort, your own frail arm with the token at the end, held in a feeble hand, that liberates you. in other words again: at least you tried. and sometimes that’s truly all you can do. try.
**holiday self-preservation note**: don’t hold your hand out with that fucking flower so long you get a back cramp. true wisdom lies in knowing how long to hold that sucker out before you give up and save it for someone who’s ready to take it.
here’s the whole passage (pulled from an old draft…)
When a stranger put money into the hat, I would try to emanate an immense amount of gratitude for this savior who had momentarily freed me from my frozen pose.
I wouldn’t look at the donor immediately.
I would be coy.
I would look at the sky, I would look at the crowd, I would look at the street, I would look at my vase, and then, once I had selected the perfect flower with as much graceful fluidity as possible, I would finally gaze at my new friend, holding out the flower delicately clutched between my thumb and forefinger.
This always reminded me of the act of communion: that small, quiet, intimate moment when a priest proffers a wafer, intimately instructing you to ingest the body of Christ.
So, a dollar into the hat. I would gaze lovingly at my new human friend, my head filling up with a little silent monologue that sounded something like this:
the body of christ, the cup of salvation.
regard this holy flower, human friend.
take it, it’s for you. a gift from my heart.
oh, you want a picture? okay! we can take a picture.
I’ll just hold this flower and wait while your girlfriend gets out her camera.
the body of christ, the cup of salvation. the flower of patience.
oh. I see your girlfriend’s camera batteries are dead.
now your other friend is getting his camera out.
this is all fine.
because I am the picture of zen and in the moment.
the body of christ, the cup of salvation, the flower of forgiveness.
so come to me, human friend! nuzzle into the folds of my white gown, we will pose together. with love.
oh, new human friend, your friend with the camera is drunk, isn’t he?
may he find peace. may he find solace. may he find the shutter button.
okay. now you finally have your picture and you have high-fived your drunken friend.
now please take this flower I have been holding out to you, my sacrament.
the body of christ, the cup of salvation, the flower of oneness and joy and….
why are you walking away?
I have a flower for you!
a gift! a holy token of love!
the body of christ!
TAKE THE FUCKING FLOWER.
And as he walked away, I would hang my head in sorrowful shame for all that was wrong with the world.
And if I was, by my own estimation, nailing my job, everybody watching this interaction on the sidewalk would shout after the dude, as he walked away with his drunk friend and girlfriend:
“HEY!!! HEY YOU!!!! SHE’S GOT A FLOWER FOR YOU!!! TAKE THE FLOWER!!”
The dude would usually bend to the peer pressure and come back to take it. But not always.
Sometimes I just had to let him go.
Girls, for the record, almost always took the flower. The ones who refused? Sometimes they seemed to think they were doing me a favor by rejecting the flower, gesturing:
“No, no! I couldn’t possibly! Keep it for someone else!”
But they didn’t understand that they were breaking my heart. Gifting them my flower – my holy little token – was what made me feel like an artist, someone with something to offer, instead of a charity case.
Over the years, though, I got used to it, and instead of taking it personally, I began to understand:
Sometimes people just don’t want the flower.
Sometimes you have to let them walk away.
a few reminders…i just signed another hundred books for porter square books and they’re selling them online, head on over…and the book is finally also up on amazon, and as usual all the details about all the places to get the ebook and audiobook etc etc are compiled here on my site (along with a new microsite of music, photos, videos, and more that floats through the last 10 years covered in said book).
AND the mass mosaic has been lifting into the sky….there’s TONS of people there daily asking for and offering to gift the book to people who want it – go browse by your area of the world, and ask; or offer, and make some new human friends day by gifting them the book: massmosaic.com
and thanks terra, for inspiring this post.
back to the flu-bed i go.
i’ve been coming down with a cold-flu-thing, in bed for the past two days. i took anthony home from the hospital yesterday, and i hope i didn’t unknowingly infect him. his white blood cell is down. his wife laura is coming down with something, too, it’s the season, and i’ve noticed from the twitter feed that I’m not alone. everyone is bed ridden. so. at least we’re all suffering together.
we got this.