Sharp Edges

I've been utterly obsessed with Linkin Park's "Sharp Edges" (and virtually every album, and every song off of "One More Light"... but I digress), and I have been thinking a lot about consequences and contributions and connection. The three C's? Maybe.

I've been slowly immersing myself in a creative sabbatical for the next two months, and while I have cleared up most of my schedule to accommodate this, the Universe is also presenting Purpose between the cracks of space and time.

Be linear in the non-linear.

When you gift yourself 'time' there is plenty of availability offered for contemplation. I've been cracking open the jagged edges of contribution -- what do I bring into this world, my world, the world? Have I contributed? Have I offered? Have my introverted tendencies created consequences that are either irreparable or a hell of a lot of work that puts the momentum of time in a shadow box of memories, never to be more than dust-covered past tense verbs?

I think of this more in terms of relationships and connections. I spent the better part of the Fall reconnecting with old friends, old students, people who received my contributions, who knew me authentically and vulnerably and there was no pedestals, we all stood on the same damn ground. It was so far past tense, generated from a decade or more ago, and the contribution was carried forward. There was legacy being formed and molded before I realized it was there. My mind was blown.

I've often wondered, I think like many with something to say or a Purpose to tend to, of what my legacy was. How would I create it? What would it say about me, in as much of my entirety as possible? What happens if it's never really rooted? I thought about those who I have loved dearly who have passed, incomplete (in a sense) of their Great Work, and leaving their legacy to me, to do with it what I will... it felt like a gift at first, the honor and privilege to continue someone's amazing work and life-long purpose; it began to quickly shift to a burden as I put my own legacy aside, because I needed to tend to these powerful women whose voices couldn't die with their bodies. And it became a wild teaching of making sure I didn't leave behind my own incomplete legacy for my daughter one day. No, she needs to tend to her own. I can't leave her with the burden I ended up feeling, causing temporary paralysis. Never really going forward, not quite going back...

These old friends and old students gave me the gift of reflection, of seeing my unplanned (to me) legacy that had already taken root. It brought me back in linear time, to the present and presence of consequences and connection.

I'm going to say something tremendously vulnerable: I don't have many friends. The inner child in me is both mad at the self-expression, intermixing rolling of the eyes for sounding super dramatic, and feeling choked up for saying something you just don't say in this world. We don't say we don't have friends. We don't say that we live in a world completely filled within our own creations. And we certainly don't say that we have created this situation both skillfully and blindly. We just don't say these things.

I recall years ago a woman telling me and others this same sort of thing, that she had no one but her partner, that she was isolated. What happened? She was ridiculed. Not to her face (as though that matters), but there was a discomfort of desperation lingering in the air; a stench so many of us are familiar with, but we'll do anything to cover it up now, won't we? Her daring proclamation was almost too much to bear witness to, and I realize more now it's because she spoke what others felt and couldn't or wouldn't speak.

I think of this person, and countless others, who have opened up sharing the same thing. The consequence of sharp edges that has created a layer of protection, a bubble wrap to ensure the fragile can't be broken. It won't be broken. The consequence of speaking it puts isolation on the front burner, where the reduction risks becoming bitter and inedible.

I recognize within myself how my introvert can be harmful to relationships.

I disappear. I stop answering phone calls and emails. I just go away. Whether I am actively in darkness or not, I just vanish, seemingly without a trace, sometimes purposeful and intentional, other times just habitual.

I think of my late mother-in-law, who was a hard woman to like and had a sharp tongue, but she had loyal best friends who were there for her whenever, and maintained this connection for decades. She wasn't easy, not by a long shot, and even to the end they were there. I envied that about her, and was annoyed when she didn't seem to appreciate it.

Then I see my own reflection wagging her finger at me asking if I don't do the same.

I don't want to belittle the words and feelings merging from brain to fingertip to screen by calling it "silly". It makes me see my mentors so differently now. I see their vulnerability and heart both wide open and sheltered in a desire to have connection but the undercurrent of fear that left a lingering taste upon the palette that persuaded them otherwise. It also makes me wish I had called more. Had dinner with them more. Was just there more instead of in my introverted sanctuary.

"These years you're never getting back..."

This particular line gives me a jolt of remorse for what wasn't celebrated, and yet it gives me this shiver of hope, of potentiality, like a tale of what's to come. These are the year's we're never getting back... and in knowing that, how much do the consequences matter (in the sense that perhaps we make consequences bigger than they actually are, and as long as they're not detrimental...)? What is the resistance or the restraint in contribution? You either contribute to the roots of your legacy, or you don't. And, knowing that these are the years we're never getting back, is the push/pull and locking mechanism of blocking connection really worth it?

I've contemplated who will be there at the end. I've had the privilege of ministering to funerals and to see who shows up, the people who hold a page in your story, who hold love and memories with you. It has touched me every time. It is a sentiment of who these people are, and how much they allowed love in, and how much these people either learned to watch for sharp edges, or how the sharp edges were only ever sharp in the mind of one individual, not all.

The contemplative mind has more questions, fewer answers, and lots of pause... and yet I'm comforted by these words, the reminder that we are all the same: awake, asleep, isolated, connected... we all fall down, we get up, we live somehow, and we learn, or are consistently teaching ourselves, that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. And, ultimately, we can smooth the edges, removing traces of splinters and pain, finding ourselves on the edge of something else... something genius...


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