A powerful day yesterday. The National Poetry Slam is finally here after weeks of preparation on my part and two-and-a-half YEARS for the rest of the organizing committee. I don't know how they've done it; I'm exHAUSTED.
But blissful, too, because poets bring with them incredible energy and wisdom that sometimes belies their casual, even slothful attitudes.
Chantal Foster summed it up better than I can today in her post on Duke City Fix.
The only real downside of this entire blessing of an opportunity for me is that work is getting more and more untenable. I think I almost got fired yesterday. Not fun, especially for someone as anal as I am about making other people happy and seeming competent at all times -- no matter what. Horrifying. Skull creeping. Stomach-plummeting. Fear-inducing.
And then -- the rush of the event washed it all away, and I remembered that THIS is what my life is about. This community building -- in all areas, not just neighborhoods, but PEOPLE who share loves and modes of expression and passions and ways of dressing.
One of the most palpable things about the slam family -- as they call themselves -- is the overwhelming acceptance for all things marginal. Diversity is the rule and the guide. This is a community of misfits. Rebels. Outliers. And they love each other. There is a profound sense of respect and welcoming of wisdom that comes from the edges. It's an incredible model for acceptance and real celebration of multiculturalism. It's amazing to be part of it; it's ... to steal Chantal's word ... electric.
The best personal moment for me yesterday took place during my short stop by the Pre-event part at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This woman with my name took my hands as we met and held on to them tightly. She looked me right into the eye and said, "Oh, no you don't. You have no idea, do you? You do NOT understand your energy. Honey, you are sitting in the back seat, but you should be the driver. You are not living up to your full potential because you are a coward. That light that you're keeping in your chest for yourself? You don't need it anymore. That's why I'm holding your hands. Touching people is the way to let that light out, and you have kept it to yourself for too long. You think you're a dove, but you're an eagle. You're supposed to soar. You are in store for amazing things, and a bird with its wings closed cannot fly. Don't be afraid. That thing you know you're supposed to do? That thing you keep pushing away? You think you can't do it, but there will be people there to support you when you decide to step into your life. If I came back here in a year... You're going to be amazed at the things you accomplish."
It was one of those moments. Those angel moments. Maybe it's a load of crap, and maybe she tells everyone the same thing. Still. It got me. This perfect stranger told me my life. This kind of connection is the kind of thing I've come to expect in those moments of confluence when you really open yourself up to whatever comes, lending yourself to building an energy that wants focus.