So I ran away last week, to Portland, OR. I was expecting it to be rainy and cold, which is my dream weather. I wanted to wear wrap dresses and boots and leather jackets and put my hair in updos and have the rain make little tendrils curl romantically. And obviously be dripping in crystals (I mean, let’s be real about my style.)
But instead of rainy and cold it was sunny and 100 degrees.
One afternoon I was sitting outside this juice truck. I had taken my notebook and a new book I was reading called Notes on the Need for Beauty by J. Ruth Gendler. Currently this book is everything I wish I had written that I’ve honestly never thought about before. It’s wonderful, and at every other sentence I just wanted to turn to someone, grab their arm, and read it aloud to them. It’s the kind of book you want to share, because it’s the kind of book that turns qualities into relationships.
Of course, because I’m extremely smart and incredibly pale, I had found the only bench in the shade outside of this juice truck. And then four good looking men in uniform started wandering over. (Firefighters? First responders? I don’t know and I don’t really care. They can rescue me anytime, just for the fun of it.)
And of course they were enlightened feminists and noticed that, in their search for shade, they had encroached on my personal space. One of them made a comment about how they weren’t trying to get too close or read over my shoulder; they just wanted to stand in the shade. I said it was ok, and that my book was so magnetic I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had called them over.
But I didn’t read them the passage.
I wrote about it later, how vibrant and nice these men were, how fervently I wanted to share this moment and these thoughts with another human. The impulse to read the passage aloud was there, I had an audience, I even had the conversation started… and I just didn’t go there.
I am not trying to beat myself up, I’m just curious about why I didn’t take that extra step. And why do I wish for it now? Do I just wish I was the type of woman that did that sort of thing? I’d love to be able to relate to men in that way: free of fear or concern for what they think of me. Just sharing because I want to connect and not because there’s a specific trajectory I’m trying to achieve or avoid.
That’s the real kicker for me: I want to act without first anticipating every single consequence. I want to really be in relationship, like truly, in the moment, with no other agenda aside from connection. (and that’s with everyone, not just with men)
Next time I can remember that I can express myself just because; I don’t have to worry about how people will experience my expression. To quote Jena, “I express myself, even at the risk of your misinterpretation.”
So imagine me grabbing your forearm and reading you this passage:
When I discuss the quality of beauty with students, we imagine beauty’s relationships with curiosity and courage, fear, ugliness, and harmony. Curiosity, like beauty, becomes a name for the desire that draws things out of themselves, toward each other. “The river is curious to get to the ocean. The ocean is curious to meet the river,” a girl begins her poem, describing how curiosity, like beauty, brings us closer to the mysteries at the heart of nature. “Curiosity taught the kitten to walk, the river to run, the flowers to bloom,” a sixth grade boy declares, and it echoes James Hillman’s statement that beauty is the way “in which the gods touch our senses, reach the heart and attract us into life.” Hillman’s definition doesn’t say what beauty is, but suggests how it moves us into the world. Beauty is not accidental, frivolous, or marginal, but at the very center, stirring our hearts and our sensitive, sensuous bodies, attracting us into life with its immediacy and delight.
* swoon *
ps – Running Away 2014 was magical and successful. Can’t wait to be posting more regularly here. I missed you.