Sunday, July 10, 2016
Has anyone ever exposed themselves to you?
Do you have a pile of papers on your desk, or scraps of scribbled inspiration? I came across a poem I wrote in 2007 when I was going through a rough period, suffering from great loss. Two good friends had died, and one was dying. The kids were doing their own thing; the grandchildren were growing up and away. I felt like everything I cared about was going, going, gone. And then, out of all that sadness and chaos, a new baby was on the way... my ray of hope.
Today, as I reread Going-Going Gone, I remembered the reaction it garnered that evening when I nervously read it at open mic. Most people in attendance looked away or met my eyes with sad expressions, although it was not my intent to get sympathy. I was merely venting. I was very uneasy pouring out my angst in front of a roomful of strangers in the back meeting room of a neighborhood bar that served delicious pizza.
I will always remember one of the poets, Ken Brown, a neighborhood guy in his 40s. He had long scraggily hair, a ruddy complexion. He was a creative literary genius who could/should have been a beat poet. He wrote with brevity, yet his work spoke volumes. He had a signature sign off when he finished reading. He tossed his papers over his shoulder onto the floor.
Ken was a full-fledged alcoholic. But he was the only person that night who commented after I read. He scraped his chair back on that crummy floor at The Mac (where the St. Louis Writer's Guild met once a month for readings) and stumbled up to me. As he came closer, I backed away, uneasy as he approached. With a blast of alcohol breath, he said, "Aww darlin." He leaned in, kissed my cheek, and shook his head as he walked back to his seat. It wasn't a come on, or pity. The late Ken Brown was expressing empathy. I will always treasure that moment.
Writing about your angst can be a release, so if you feel burdened by personal problems, overwhelmed by events, or the world situation, journal your feelings. Share only if you want to. Write for release. It helps.
And when you are at an open mic and someone undresses in front of you, makes you feel uncomfortable by baring all, exposing their deepest emotions, remember we are all human, and a little empathy goes a long way.