Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Can You Stand Naked on the Stage of Life?

Michael Port photobombing a picture of his parents with an event guest
“Remember, leave everything you have in the room. No hiding. No holding back. No giving up.” ~ Michael Port

Sunday I attended an event titled “Think Big, Speak Easy” starring Michael Port, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. My hope was to refine my public speaking chops, and as a former actress I will admit I had a bit of the “I already know this syndrome.” I was quickly humbled. I witnessed a man strip naked, metaphorically speaking, on the stage.

The striptease began with an onstage phone call reminding the star that he had not fulfilled a promise. It escalated from there when Michael Port quite graphically shared his struggle with a food addiction—a cycle of binging, exercising, shame and bodily torture. But that wasn’t all. He continued to shed. Through the magic of theater, we literally heard the preying voices of his negative, inner voice berate, denigrate and smash his dreams. Yet with all of his disrobing, I was the one who felt exposed. Why? The answer actually came from a woman in the crowd. This woman belted out, as we all were invited to do as a part of the program, “I stand for the wisdom of my fear.”

Michael Port’s naked vulnerability was a beacon of wisdom into his own “thinking big.” And even though I knew quite well that there is wisdom in our shadow, to see it demonstrated on stage in front of a packed, standing room only house of 200 plus folks, cameras snapping, a cameraman panning, and total strangers gawking, the invitation to me personally pierced that place of comfort that I was hanging on to. I knew in that moment that I, too, had to take off the robe of procrastination, and the layers of contrived safety I had concocted over the years, and expose my beautiful, glorious, wisdom-filled wounds.

Joseph Campbell wrote, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” I was invited by the naked man on stage to step into my own cave and to seek my sparkling treasure. I had resisted entering that cave, had resisted removing my layers of metaphorical clothing that covered up my fear in the name of not hurting anyone as I struggle to write my memoir. What the naked man exhibited on stage is what I have to do on the page.

We all are on our unique paths. We all have stepped off when things got a little rocky and opted to stay in a dead marriage because we feared we were not good enough to take care of ourselves. Or even remained tethered to an ended marriage for the same reason through the safe layers of blame and victimhood. I am guilty of both. It is all too easy to avoid those wisdom-filled muddy spots by cloaking ourselves with numbing and fleeting, quick and easy pleasures. I have spent many teary, lonely nights with Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie and HBO. It takes courage to shed and stand naked on our walk through life.

I thank you naked man on the stage because you have inspired, prompted, prodded and egged on this woman in the audience. So here I go, warts and all standing fearfully but committed to dipping into my cave as I vow to write my truth. I vow to stay on that path no matter what it takes as I muddle through, or perhaps I will stand tall and simply walk the dark passages, stepping carefully, breathing easily, and shedding one layer at a time.