hello my loves.
greetings from aotearoa.
what is astounding to me lately, as my feeble brain dawns to the shard-sharp realization at the ripe young/old age of 45, is this:
living, surviving, existing, in order to be measured, and finding meaning only in the measure.
the measuring tape was never within. it curled and danced around me, held only by others.
as if living in that moment of curious terror in a doctor’s office right before stepping on the scale. a measurement; not yours to judge.
like that; twenty four hours a day, 365, a lifetime of held breath while the measure of goodness waited to be recorded.
it’s a full-throated liberation i did nothing see coming. even though i’ve preached this brand of self-understanding my entire adult life. even though i’ve preached my head off about self-love, self-acceptance, even though i’ve flailed my hands towards a different way, a different angle…a part of me was still missing the point completely.
and perhaps – i still am. sometimes i feel like i’m always just finding the front door.
i understand now: i have spent my entire life falling short of expectations that were impossible and ridiculous expectations to begin with, and i’m only just starting to understand how rigged the game was.
i was always trying so hard to be good.
good. to be good. to be seen as good. to pass the test.
good; according to expectations set by some outside force, some alien bible, some cultish rulebook.
good according to some hostile, cryptic, clinical outside force; a place so far outside myself that i could never even really understand it or hope to visit it myself.
a place so faraway and foreign i could only ever fear….and trust my fear instincts were serving my essential survival.
but the outside measuring sticks never really have your best interests in mind.
how can they?
they don’t know you.
i have spent my life trying to be a good student.
a good american.
a good athlete.
a good punk.
a good role model.
a good writer.
a good child. a good meditator. a good cook. a good host. a good mother. a good rock star. a good friend. a good lover. a good businesswoman. a good sport. a good rebel. a good yogi. a good listener. a good wife.
a good loser.
a good little girl.
a good BAD little girl.
i mean, a GOOD bad little girl.
what a classic.
because everybody secretly loves those. but you still gotta do it right – get it right, do it GOOD – to rack up the correct points from the stiff outside panel of judges. it was never about how it felt inside, or whether it was nourishing. the nourishment came only from the degree to which the good bad little girl (or the good mother, or the good student) was declared a legitimate specimen – and it was always empty calories.
it’s taken me forty-five years to finally retreat away from the clattering measure of judgement from the outside, most of which is just ricochets of halls of mirrors inside my own head, like some echo chamber of past fears – those teachers, long dead, still rolling their eyes – that never dies down but just keeps repeating itself ad nauseum. to retreat from the toxic, menacing and unfulfillable desire to be accepted by others – not as i stand, bot as i am, nor as i come, but as good – above all else.
what a terrible fate that might have been! what a limiting number of options would have been on offer in this short life!
like dorothy emerging into the full technicolor of oz, i don’t know whether i’m waking up into a dream or waking up from a dream, but it barely seems to matter. i’m in whatever it is.
i’m only just starting to feel the cloud lift, my bones literally expanding by a few cells, my breath deepening, i can hear the crack of my back and ribs as my heart silently shouts
here i am
here i am
here i am
i’ll never know whether these things would have revealed themselves had i not been touring aotearoa new zealand for that particular week of march in 2019, or if neil hadn’t left a month later, in april. or if things, people and countries hadn’t fractured so painfully, goaded on by more fear, anger, and powerlessness than i’ve ever seen simultaneously explode all at one time in my lifetime.
there are a lot of things i don’t even bother to wonder anymore.
but i do know it happened, and it happened here.
from this little singular moment, on this old land, from this strange little point on the globe a few days before the darkest day of the year, i can say for the first time, in my own singular, hoarse, joyful voice:
wherever you are,
know that you’re good, too.
let go of those old voices. the ones in your head, and the ones in your circle. they are many. they are endless. they are black holes, and they are useless.
let them go.
let them go.
i am here, and i love you. right now.
right now….i know it.
p.s. the auckland writers fest film, #2 – my interview with best-selling kiwi novelist catherine robertson, is out tomorrow. stay tuned. you funded this one, and it’s a stunner.