So we become silent. We stop looking for approval. We cease taking offense at the opinions of others. We no longer complicate our thinking or our lives. We do not seek the spotlight but instead become a simple part of all that is. We can be loved or shunned, make a profit or suffer a loss, be honored or disgraced, and never lose the treasure of our being.
OK. Yes. That sounds amazing. But... how?!
We become silent.
How is one ever truly silent? I'm not talking about staying quiet or not using my voice for an extended period of time, but actually finding a completely still place within where there is only me -- no sound, nothing. Where has that place gone? Much of the time the noise I battle in my own life is an inner static. I just can't ever seem to shut up about me, about you, about my boyfriend, about my job, about my dog, about music, about the government, about money, about the queer community, about what total strangers are doing at the store -- and this is all happening inside my head all day long, 365 days a year. It's exhausting, and moreover, it's loud.
We stop looking for approval.
I have basically spent my entire life up to this point doing this and only this, attempting to accomplish it in a variety of ways over the years, with mixed results. I realized very early on that I was different and that my particular kind of different was not the type that most people around me took kindly to, so I started figuring out ways of getting people to value my existence externally, and I just never stopped doing that. I have looked for approval from my friends, family, God, record labels, men -- you name it. I chased a professional dream down a path that has led me to here and now, in this very moment, still seeking your approval, hoping that what I write is good enough for you, that my thoughts are interesting enough, and worrying that you might not think I'm worth anything once you know how desperately I need you to think I am.
We cease taking offense at the opinions of others.
This part truly offends me. I will not legitimize it with words.
We no longer complicate our thinking or our lives.
I spend hours every day over-thinking things. From the small stuff to the big stuff, my inner thought process of choice has always been circular, and it leaves me dizzy and paralyzed much of the time. The stories I create in my head to help explain the unexplainable or more difficult parts of my life cause me to react, and my reaction to the reaction is to try and figure out what caused me to react in the first place. It's in a loop, and it's endless.
We do not seek the spotlight but instead become a simple part of all that is.
All my life I have been notoriously attention-seeking, which I'm sure is a direct result of my not feeling worthy as a kid or feeling like I had to act like someone else in order to be liked, but the truth about me is that I am actually very shy. Anyone who knows me in real life already knows this, yet there is something inside me that is constantly pushing me toward the spotlight. My boyfriend recently said to me "It's like you are always talking out into the world, but then you are shocked when the world talks back," and I think he's right. There's something in me that needs to be seen and valued, but I am just as uncomfortable receiving either now as I ever have been.
We can be loved or shunned, make a profit or suffer a loss, be honored or disgraced, and never lose the treasure of our being.
I struggle with this. I think mostly because I am still trying as a 32-year-old man to get to a place inside where I actually do treasure my own being. That reads sadder than it sounded in my head, but growing up gay in the bigoted Church of Christ didn't help me develop self-worth as a child, and I spent over 20 years being internally cruel as a result of God's "plan for my life," so it understandably takes some time to do... or undo. Whichever it is, I am still working on it.
My mother is very wise (much wiser than she fancies herself), and we have spoken about this many times over the years. She thinks the only way I will come to a place of accepting what is unacceptable is by working to rid myself of this feeling I have of separateness from the rest of the world, something I've guarded fiercely over the years as a central means of my own self-protection. She says this process of letting go involves coming face to face with the impermanence of everything; accepting that the world is always changing and that I cannot stop it; sitting with fears, and letting myself truly accept the inevitabilities of my human experience instead of spending all of my energy on trying to fit everything into the story I continue to craft for myself.
This storytelling has no doubt forever been at the root of my misery, feeding lines to my suffering and choking out the realness of my life, my love, my time with all of you, my humanity. What am I still so afraid of? Hasn't the worst come and gone already, or is there more to come? What would happen if I just decided right now that there is nothing to fear; that no matter what happens to me or the people I love, we will be fine; that everything is perfect and just as it should be, no matter how the story plays out?
I hope I get there sooner than later, and I'll be sure to let you know when I do. In the meantime, deep breaths...
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Photo by Logan Lynn (2012)
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