The Bravery of Reaching Out…
I am a chicken. Let’s get that out of the way to begin with…
When it comes to emotional stuff, I prefer to tell you what you want to hear, and then keep my private thoughts, well, private. The fact that I pour my heart out here every day is not a natural thing for me. So many days, I wake up and DO NOT WANT TO SHARE! I want to hide, and lie and tell you whatever it is you want to hear, and none of that ever has to do with telling you the honest truth about my life, what I think, and most especially how I feel.
But I have learned that if you want connection, true, honest, life affirming connection, you have to reach out. You have to be vulnerable. Authenticity is a must! That is super hard and not what I want at all. Except it is.
While I was sitting in meditation the other day, I found my gaze wandering to an errant branch of Wisteria that was reaching out from its tangle, to new horizons of the swing chain that was close by but for sure, a reach.
I had the thought:
“That plant has no idea that there is anything there to grab a hold of, it just sends shoots out in all directions, completely on faith that someday there will be something to attach itself to…”
And it landed in me, that that was exactly how I feel, all the fucking time.
I have no idea what there is in this life to hold onto. And if you review my life, it would appear that I have a general knack for grabbing onto things that should be run from, not pulled closer. But like the Wisteria, I just keep reaching out, twirling myself all around whatever it is that I find within my purview and then affixing myself to them: friends, kids, pets, lovers. And that I am so often, just reaching out, with nothing but faith that anything worthwhile or worthy will be there.
But over the years I have come to know, as well as believe, that there will always be something there…because there always has been. It may not be what I want or need. But there will always be something or someone to twist myself around, adopt and assimilate into my life. And sometimes I will find a post, something or someone solid and the reach will pay off. Other times, I will tangle myself around a swing chain and the pay off will be great until the swing does what is in the nature of swings to do…move.
Then, I immediately (well sometimes not so immediately) see that my reach out was ill timed, poorly executed, or a gross oversight.
But what I have come to believe is that no matter what the end result, reaching out is always brave. It is a faith based activity. It is an extension of myself, past the limits I previously knew. And sometimes the reach out, has to be later viewed with a lens of regret, pain, heartache and a feeling of stupidity. The result does not change that the effort required, the bravery summoned, is in fact brave.
Reaching out to someone is hard. Loving is hard. Offering yourself up to someone to be rejected, maimed in love’s misfire, courageous and warrior like. The effort expended to reach out to another, regardless of a guaranteed return on your investment is fucking brave, and honest, and humbling and fucking huge.
I used to be a person who stayed small. I would reach out but then only mirror that which I perceived I received back, or at least was likely to receive back. In the last few years, I have made some ridiculously stupid reach outs. But I do not regret them. Not one of them. I am better for the effort expended, flexing and strengthening my reaching out muscles, which resulted, in bravery being made stronger and I don’t know about you but this is a brave new world we live in and I have needed every brave boost I have received.
The kicker with reaching out is that you never know what you will get. I have reached out to some things that looked like sure bets, and I have been bitterly disappointed. And I have reached out to some really stupid seeming ideas, people and men, and I have been richly rewarded, though often not in the ways and manners that I believed I would be.
What has happened every time regardless of the result is that I have become braver. And stronger. And more me in the process. And I have come to some level of acceptance that just like my Wisteria reaches out, so must I. It is the only way I grow. And sometimes I might attach myself to a swing which might later prove idiotic. But other times I hit pay dirt and wind myself around a lovely stable post and flourish.
The reaching out behavior is the same. It requires heart and soul and warrior like bravery not to just do it the one time (although there have been some amazingly brave fucking one time reach outs) but to do it repeatedly, year after year, relationship after relationship. To continue to reach out, to touch something, someone and to never be assured that this one will be good, or right or true. But to be committed to the very brave process of coiling back within myself then launching out towards others always with the idea, the thought, the hope and the fear that I will make contact.
And always like the tender spiral of Wisteria, sometimes I will be rewarded richly for my effort, and other times I will have my tender shoots ripped apart, left to wither or be cauterized where they are detached…and I will never get to know…which way that will go. And that is why bravery is always the underlying ingredient…because every time I reach, I know not what I will find. And honestly, I can think of nothing braver in this world than sharing yourself with another through a constant and unrelenting willingness to try again, to reach out again…