letting our wings emerge

graffiti of intricately drawn Monarch butterfly wings, bright orange and black and white, on a beige-painted cement-brick wallGood morning gorgeousness. Good morning quiet apartment, red candle, green and white and mint tea. Good morning sacred writing space. Good morning transformation.

What’s slowly stretching awake in you today? What in you needs a little extra love and sweet morning voice? Let’s say good morning to that part, too.

I feel both slow and explosive this morning, almost like when I have caffeinated coffee and the outside of me looks calm and orderly and steb-by-step, and the inside of me is a raucous freight train of energy, blowing out in all directions, kinetic and hyper. At those moments, the Watcher part is always a-wonder at how such energy could be contained, how I could possibly move so steadily from task to task when, inside, the Tasmanian Devil is dervishing.

But we do that all the time, don’t we? We behave like a particular self, an orderly self, in order to function in the world — we know our inside selves aren’t appropriate for polite society. We know the frantic, overly-jovial, kidlike wonder won’t be appreciated at the staff meeting or in the classroom or on the client call. We learned to modulate ourselves early early, well before school, well before it was other kids teaching us the rules, reinforcing what all of our parents were teaching us: keep your delight to the side, keep your head down, do your work.

What happens when delight is our work?

This isn’t what I thought I’d write about this morning, but I suppose that’s the risk of blogged morning pages.

This week I’m at the outset of another transformation, another major life change. (2012 seems to be about exactly that, for almost everyone in my life. Has it been a year of massive change for you, too? Could it be?) I’m thinking this morning about what Steven Pressfield calls “turning pro” — about stepping all the way into the work I say I care about the most: the writing and the workshops. I’m ready to go pro. Just maybe, I already have.

Now, when I was at Goddard in the middle of my Transformative Language Arts masters studying, I wrote about the virtues and necessity of the amateur. This came directly out of my work as an advocate at a battered women’s shelter. I came into that work in the mid-90s, when things were transitioning from being survivor-led to “professionalized.” Less and less often did we turn to the women, the folks, who had survived all the different forms that domestic violence could take, and ask them how we could best be of use to folks who were still in danger. Our analysis of domestic violence as being purely rooted in patriarchy (and only perpetrated by men) was in need of complexification, and many women in the movement were resistant to that change. VAWA money and a focus on partnering with the criminal justice system led us away from a politicized movement, which had recognized, first, that domestic violence was just one thread in an interwoven system of oppressions (its assumptions of power-over relationships between partners or parents and children being intricately connected to white supremacy, homo-hatred, capitalism and economic violences), so that, second, an individual batterer and individual survivor were struggling, yes, with their individual relationship specificities and (rarely consciously) engaged in a model of relationship intended to further those systems of oppression. At that moment, The State was recognizing us as legitimate! As worthy of funds! We got “professional,” hired therapists to counsel individual women on their individual issues of self-hatred and codependency, and shoved our women’s power fists into the storage closet.

My heart broken by that movement, I wasn’t interested in being a professional. I didn’t want credence from a system that rewarded silence, was risk-averse and simplifying. The work I envisioned doing, when I was a grad student, had to do with bringing queer survivors of sexual violence together in a room and enacting a space of tender violence: we would unstopper the longings that we had been told, or had convinced ourselves, were too dangerous for words; we would meet a new kind of kin in one another; we would learn to witness one another’s stunning, risky creative acts with generosity and alacrity — and through this process, repeated over the course of eight weeks, we would invite one another to allow our wings to emerge, thereby allowing our own wings to emerge as well. We would learn to fly together.

This, of course, is not new. This is the vision of the cr group, the slow work of the kaffeklatch, the artist’s circle, the ideal result of any gathering of folks in creative and intimate space. (Granted, these groups (any group) can also be spaces of indoctrination, deep violence, and recapitulation to cultural norms and small ways of being.)

I didn’t feel I needed to be a professional (by which, I think, I meant licensed by or as some recognized gatekeeping system as priest or therapist orĀ  teacher) to help facilitate these gatherings.

But here’s another truth: I was afraid of the power associated with claiming my role, my work and my knowledge/”wisdom.” That’s fodder for another post, though.

My understanding of professional and amateur have shifted over these last ten years, and just now, professional feels akin to dedicated, a willingness to accept the responsibility to do the work associated with my vision and dream. Visioning is necessary — and then there’s the daily practice of showing up at the desk and allowing what I envisioned to manifest through my work. I feel new wings ready to unfurl as I step off this cliff. Amateur and professional are ready to work together.

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What do professional and amateur mean to you? Is one necessarily positive and the other necessarily negative? What would it mean to allow yourself to be a professional at what you love? Or to be an amateur (remembering that amateur comesĀ  from the French amateur “lover of,” from Latin amatorem “lover.”) Give yourself ten minutes, more if you’ve got ’em, and write into these possibilities…

Be easy with you as you step into this day. Be easy with all that is shifting and opening in you. Thanks for the ways you are gentle with all your tender parts, with the tender parts of others. Thanks for your creative brilliance, for every one of your words.

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