Intensity and The Rules We Live By

When we are children, we look to our parents or caregivers to provide us with shelter, and food and to make us feel safe.  We look to them for guidance – role models who show us how to navigate the stormy seas of living.  And we look to them for acceptance and unequivocal love.  I believe that we look for that most of all.  We want to be loved simply because we are here.  We want to feel good about ourselves – all of who we are.  And so we watch and observe and draw our own conclusions not only about life and living but also about if we are loveable.  We come to believe that there are aspects of us that are acceptable and parts of who we are which are not.  We decide what about ourselves we will play up in order to feel included and wanted and what we will have to try to change or at least to manage in order to feel good enough, not an inconvenience, not a bother.

 So, somewhere deep inside of who we came into this world to be an inner critic is born.  When what we do or how we are is called into question, it’s that inner judge which speaks first: “What did I do now?  “Oops, I did it again.” [whatever ‘it’ is this time].  And so we begin to live a life of hyper vigilance, of monitoring and managing.  We play down the intensity of who we are and of our responses.  We come to believe that intensity in any form [except possibly laughter] is not okay.  If I were to create my own colouring book for life – childhood is bright with bold colours and squiggles outside the lines and blue grass and orange skies and always suns with happy faces.  Adulthood is beige at best and more usually gray and with great care taken to stay within the lines and follow the pattern created by someone else.

Where is it written that we, as we get older, cannot play any more, that we cannot be joyful and whimsical, that we must always be serious, that we must always be involved in doing something which has a measurable outcome?  It seems to me that, as we get older, we become mired in the habit of waiting for permission before we let ourselves do anything – even if what we want to do is something which will add to the richness of our day.  We look for a blessing from someone else to let us know that our choice is okay.  Without the sanction from someone outside of ourselves, we are afraid to try.  We extend that sense of dispensation so that it applies not only to what we want to do but to who we are.  We give up who we truly are to the consent of others.  And as a result, not only do our lives become beige, we come to believe that that’s what life is supposed to be like: managed and acceptable and convenient to others with no ‘sturm und drang’ and no intensity of feeling and involvement.

As I’ve come to understand this about myself, I know that, while I have owned my intensity of response and reaction, I have still believed that it is something for which I have to apologize.  I’ve continued to manage and control and watch and wait and put my life and mySelf on hold.  It was not until a few days ago that I amended the concept/word ‘owning’ and ‘accepting’ the intensity that is me.  A few days ago I came to understand in the tissue of my being that ‘acceptance’ is beige.  I’m choosing to revel in my intensity.  And ‘revel’ feels 100 feet high and lit up in klieg lights of red and blue and purple.

I have always been affected by song lyrics.  And there is a song by Stephen Sondheim which seems appropriate to end this piece.  As you read it, consider the rules which we come to live our lives by.  Not only the rules of society and community but also the rules of our personal culture.  The rules of who we should be and how we are expected to respond.  The rules which we learned as children and which we have internalized to such an extent that we believe that they must always govern everything which we do in life.  And the rules which, inevitably, limit and repress and inhibit the intensity of who we are – of who we came into this world being.

Everybody Says Don’t

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says don’t.

It  isn’t right.

Don’t it isn’t nice.

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says don’t walk on the grass.

Don’t disturb the peace.

Don’t skate on the ice.

Well I say do.

I say walk on the grass it was meant to feel.

I say sail.

Tilt at the windmill and if you fail you fail

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says don’t get out of line.

When they say that then lady that’s a sign.

Nine times out of ten, lady,  you are doing just fine.

Make just a ripple.

Come on be brave.

This time a ripple, next time a wave.

Sometimes you have to start small

 climbing the tiniest wall.

Maybe you’re going to fall

 but it’s better than not starting at all. (my favorite lines)

Everybody says no, stop.

Mustn’t rock the boat,

mustn’t touch a thing.

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says wait.

Everybody says can’t fight city-hall.

Can’t upset the cart.

Can’t laugh at the king.

Well I say try.

I say laugh at the kings or they’ll make you cry.

Lose your poise

Fall if you have to, but lady make a noise.

Everybody says don’t.

Everybody says can’t.

Everybody says wait around for miracles.

That’s the way the world is made.

I insist on miracles.

If you do them Miracles might come true.

Then I say don’t —

Don’t be afraid





About Authentic Vibrations

My life is about learning and personal growth. I was an educator in the public secondary system for over 33 years. I now work with women, individually and in small groups, using words and music, art and language to help them explore their individaul sense of self in ways with are authentically meaningful for each of them. I also facilitate discussions with educators at all stages of their involvement in the teaching profession to help each of us explore the meaning, value and potential of learning and teaching. It is my belief that, in working individually and in collective, we have the power to transform and evolve. In the power of the collectives which we create together is the power to create culture. As a musician, I believe that the arts have the power to change lives. Certification: CODE Model™ Coach WEL-Systems® Institute Affiliate Education: Ed. D (c) (Applied Psychology – Focus on Teaching) University of Toronto M. Ed (Curriculum Development and Design) Queen’s University (1992) B. Ed (Music, English, Elementary Education) University of Toronto (1976) Mus. Bac. (Music Education) University of Toronto (1975) RCM Grade 4 Harmony, Grade 4 History, Grade 9 Voice, Grade 10 Piano Awards: Life Membership, Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (2009)
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