They Aren't All Diamonds
I have made every effort to always be honest with you. In fact, I believe that is one of my greatest gifts I bring to the table here. I say things that others don’t want to say. (Well they may want to, but for whatever reason they don’t.) Maybe I do this frankly for my own healing. I sat quiet for years. In the corners of classrooms and the back of workshops. With watchful eyes, keen senses but shy mouth, I sat. I have always been, for worse and now for better, rather hyper vigilant. In the past though I felt demonized for saying the hard truth. I do not always have the best timing or tact. That is true. But I still believe the truth will set us free. In fact it is one of the three main tenants by which I run my business and teach yoga and mentor others. I also know the dangers of projection and so I find the more honest and real (whatever that means) I can be, the better. Let us be clear though, better does not mean easier, softer, less painful and without a price.
There is a great line in the movie “Easy A” (which is hilarious by the way) where the heroine’s teacher says to her: “I don’t know what your generation’s fascination is with documenting your every thought, but I can assure you they are not all diamonds.”
We (and sadly I know I often fall into this category) have become completely self obsessed with documenting our every thought, feeling and asana. I knew I was falling off the deep end when I was hiking in the mountains one day and instead of having epiphanies I had Facebook posts and tweets flash across my mind. We have become so lethargic in our attention span that we think in euphemisms, aphorisms, passive aggressive cliche’s and retweetables. And like the line in the movie, I can assure you, they are not all diamonds. Hence the irony. We are obsessed with having glitter-thoughts. Little sparks of genius that generate likes and shares. We are so time-saving obsessed we don't even use pros any more.
Everything haiku now.
Perhaps that is why I like to buy books and stack them all over my house. Perhaps thats why I like writing.
The sphere with which we can make contact with one another by documenting our ever move is now enormous. With the touch of a finger, the glance of an eye, and the quick roll of a track pad you can make contact with thousands of people at once. You can let them instantly into your life. Instead of my mountain inspirations resting in my mind, saturating my brain with its own complexity, I doll thoughts out like candy canes on Christmas. Maybe its payback for all the times I didn't get called on in class when I knew I had something important to say or god forbid the right answer. Maybe its my answer to always following the rules, waiting my turn to speak up. Who knows. This isn't that analysis.
Back before Facebook, Linkdin, Instagram and the ability to like people by clicking some tab, we saw people by seeing them. We were not available at the click of a mouse or the tap of our opposable thumbs. Neither were our whereabouts or our thoughtabouts. Remember the busy signal? I always knew when my Bubbie was home because she answered the phone between the second and third ring. If she was talking to someone else there was a busy signal and if she was out, no answer. She had no voice mail, email or cell phone (which actually she called a Cphone). If she wasn't home then better luck next time. Now, thanks to social media, we can see people whenever we want. And without permission. And thanks to email, texts, iMessage, Facebook messaging and more we can basically harass each other until someone concedes. Which doesn't seem to make for very meaningful contact it seems.
We are available all the time. Our thoughts are no longer shared like waves form the sea of consciousness crashing along the shore of intimate connection with another. They are property of Mark Zuckerberg. And the worst of it is, we have come to learn that this availability of our lives sells.
In yoga-land, (and I imagine in other spheres too) interestingly what sells is this twisted, seemingly always at our fingertips version of transparency. Transparency as a selling point because of its honest connectivity is a great sentiment. Although lately I have been curious as to how true this transparency actually is. For me transparency in relationships is something akin to being yourself, in an ever-evolving and honest manner. It is not always polished. It is about wearing your heart on your sleeve without expecting someone else to wear it for you or clean your shirt.
But as we have discovered that idealized transparency sells, being yourself has now become synonymous with bearing it all. Honesty has become confession. And who doesn't love a riveting confession? We feel immediately close to the person. But the closeness doesn't last long. Its like a burst of energy that because it is so raw must cloak itself again into the dark. Everyday I see another article by another person confessing something of their past. Which then links to a program they are offering. We keep upping the anti with which we need to share our past, present and future. Why? While I want to share, to be honest, to give you example after example from my own biography of how and why you are not alone, my biography in its sacredness to my souls path cannot be for auction on Facebook or an online magazine. If I give you every story, every mystery, every gory detail in snippets and bullets for the next program and in images of throwbacks to another time or hopes of some future, what will be left for me? What mysteries will be for my house only?
Sometimes when I counsel and mentor people, and a big story is on the verge of spilling out into the form of words, I encourage the person to pause.
I remind them they do not need to tell me anything they truly aren't ready for. They don't have to confess. They can slow down. Let’s unfold the story together bit by bit while paying attention to the sensations and feelings of the story as it wants to be told. Some parts can’t be spoken. Ok, show me them. Show me with a gesture or with your face what that was like.
Bonding takes time. Its not instantaneous, despite what we have allowed social media to leed us to believe. Trust is earned. It is not a given. Often when we over-share we end up with a hangover. We retract. We feel guilty. When we are invited into slow and awake conscious connection in sharing we may feel raw, tender and vulnerable afterward, but the hangover is prevented.
So my point is that often we share too fast, too much and too soon, thinking that we will feel close and connected and resolved. But the opposite actually occurs. We actually feel worse. We actually missed the opportunity to truly be seen in our vulnerability. To stand with dignity naked in one’s story is a gift for all. It is the essence of being transparent so that someone else might see themselves in the waters of your experience. Do not take this lightly.
I am not saying there isn't a time and place for confession. Sometimes things simply need to be said and freed from the weight of the heart. I am also not saying down with Facebook or any social media. But what I am advocating for is thoughtfulness. One day you may wish you had kept that story closer. Or you may wish you hadn't posted that photo. Or you may wish you hadn't let the world into a video of a sacred practice of yours. Or (and I think this is the worst one,) you may look back and realize you told someone elses story.
Everyone now can write a letter to the editor of humanity and have it posted online. Or make on online billboard. We live in a world where every day can be show and tell. Every day can be a confession. Anyone can make money by selling their story to the peoples paparazzi of social media. And so I wonder what good we are doing by always “baring our souls”? What is to come of this transparency that has by in large become some kind of emotional strip club? I wonder what will be left for us when we realize we made a dollar off of the events in our lives without keeping at least 10 percent to ourselves for emotional savings? I wonder what will happen when we realize we have shared and shared and shared at the circle of global acquaintances versus sitting hand in hand with one another around a fire?
I have come to learn not all thoughts and stories looks good under the florescent lighting of a screen. Not every thought-diamond has to be made into jewelry worn by the public eye. Keep something for yourself.
"There is an unprecedented spiritual hunger in our times. More and more people are awakening to the inner world. A thirst and hunger for the eternal is coming alive in their souls; this is a new form of consciousness. Yet one of the damaging aspects of this spiritual hunger is the way it sees everything in such a severe and insistent light. The light of modern consciousness is not gentle or reverent; it lacks graciousness in the presence of mystery; it wants to unriddle and control the unknown. Modern consciousness is similar to the harsh and brilliant white light of a hospital operating theatre. This neon light is too direct and clear to befriend the shadowed world of the soul. It is not hospitable to what is reserved and hidden...The world of the soul is glimpsed through the opening in a veil which closes again. There is no direct, permanent or public access to the divine. " (John O'donohue, The Anam Cara)