Silence like a cancer grows

I am crazy about the song "The Sound of Silence" performed by Disturbed. It is a poetic vision of how we can choke on our own rage, suffocate ourselves with silence, and disappear in our inability to communicate.

I say stuff. That's who I am. Not saying stuff dishonors me. Sometimes they are embarrassing things, but it's my way of connecting to other souls who have walked the same path. 

Not saying it doesn't mean it didn't happen. It just means it's festering somewhere.

"It" can be any dreadful, painful thing that will consume you until you name it.

Then you can whisper it in someone else's ear and they will be your first witness. "I'm depressed."

Then you can speak it, and transform it until it becomes one more plate in your armor of light in this life.

"The Sound of Silence"

written by Paul Simon,
performed by Disturbed

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a streetlamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed 
By the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening

People writing songs 
That voices never share
And no one dare 
Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools" said I, "You do not know, 
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
And the words that it was forming

And the sign said,
"The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence."

I'm The Mom.

(I wrote this over ten years ago. I just wanted to share it today.)

I once read a poem entitled "My Son, My Executioner" by Donald Hall.

The beautiful, startling words in the poem shine a light on our shared mortality. When we bring a child into being, we are once step closer to no longer being at all. Morbid, but true. 

Today, I have this to offer in response to that poem:

When you become a parent, the birth of your child takes away the illusion that you aren't completely responsible for yourself. You think, "If anything bad happens, Mom will help me."

Not anymore she won't. You're the mom now. The buck stops here and you carry the chapstick, the tissues, and the hard candy. You have inherited the stern eyebrows and you need to use them.

On good days, the great ME just is. I see the ego's thoughts without judgement and let them pass along. On bad days, I forget there is a great ME and the ego's fears drive the overwhelm.

But sometimes these philosophical truths don't translate.

Crap. I'm the matriarch.

I have to start saying wise stuff and wearing sensible clothing.

I need to uplevel immediately.

I need to know about mortgages and estate planning, and remember all the recipes. I need to document the family history and whisper the gritty details into my daughter's ear.

In reality, though, my future grandchildren will put on their Virtual Reality Visor or talk to a Google hologram to get facts.

What I really want to impart is grace, acceptance, joy, and inspiration. Those are hard-won qualities along with stillness, toughness, and tenderness. They are important in any person, any stage of life, and any era.

I get to step into my role now. 

With a full heart, I smile and think:

I'm the mom now.


The Head of School took me to lunch early in my career as a teacher and cautioned me against perfectionism. She said, "It will extinguish your light."

I was aware that what she had said was the truth, and also that I wasn't ready to give it up. I would cling to the illusion of control for several years after that.

In recent months, discussions and warnings about the dangers of perfectionism have been floating around in my space. I had casually glanced at a few enlightened thoughts about it, nodding my head a little and smiling. 

And then I read this:

Perfectionism is our most compulsive way of keeping ourselves small, a kind of psychoemotional contortionism that gives the illusion of reaching for greatness while constricting us into increasingly suffocating smallness.  -Ursula K. Le Guin
(found on "16 Elevating Resolutions for 2016 Inspired by Some of Humanity's Greatest Minds")

Ooooh, now I get it. 

And then I READ THIS:

When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.  
-from Brené Brown's Daring Greatly.  She also has an entire book called The Gifts of Imperfection. Worth reading.

Ouch. Now I really get it.

I had never linked perfectionism and narcissism. That revelation sank in for a few more months during which I noticed how different I am from the person who sat across from her boss at the lunch table that day so many years ago.

I am going to celebrate my release of perfectionism as a huge step toward being happy as-is. 

You probably can't know that you're worthy of joy if you're hung up on an impossible image of yourself. Instead of being paralyzed and afraid of putting a crack in the facade, you just stop sucking it in. You exhale and smile.