I knew she was going to ask me. What’s wrong? I could feel it coming. And I didn’t want to lie the following lies:
- I’m fine
- Oh, it’s just ________ (thing it’s really not, such as tired or hard day)
- make up something which sounds good or reasonable and deflects the question
I don’t want to tell those lies anymore. Ritual lies, I call them.
Ritual questions and ritual lies. Our culture. Rude not to conform to the culture of social rituals. Even so, I don’t want to lie anymore. Not even when it’s easier. Not even when the other person expects it. Not even when the other person is counting on it.
So I began rehearsing my speech. I would have the truth ready.
I’m frustrated that every other player in my group is improving noticeably except for me. I’m not improving as steadily as everyone else; in some cases not at all. I only play well in first few minutes.
I’m rehearsing alone, of course, but my inner wisdom was listening. A question bubbled up. Why the first few minutes?
Telling more truth, Because I’m relaxed in the first few minutes. Once the warm-up is over I get tense.
Perhaps it’s not a lack of skill or a lack of improvement. Perhaps it’s just the tension.
In asking the natural next question — Why the tension? — more culture imperatives emerge. The tension is the pressure to prove proficiency, or at least demonstrate improvement, because the expectation is that practice produces excellence. I must exhibit proof. In doing so I prove I belong.
The pressure to prove creates tension. Tension translates into poor play.
It may not be a true statement that everyone else is improving except for me.
It may be a true statement that my improvement isn’t obvious because I’m playing tense.
It is also a true statement that I am therefore frustrating myself unnecessarily. I’m not playing to prove I’m good at playing. I’m not playing to test, measure, or produce. No one gets to decide where I belong because, as Pippa Grange tells us, my results are simply an outcome; they are not my worth. The pressure does not apply. If the pressure does not apply, the tension is wasted effort.
And in the end she never asked. I never had to confess any of it. The question I felt was imminent was likely asked by my inner wisdom in the first place so I could self-soothe.
Self-coach. Self-reconcile. And so the importance of telling the truth is infinitely more critical, not only as a gesture of cultural non-conformity, but as a practice to ease my own path.
Over and over the Universe shows me this as my purpose. I ease the way. I ease the path. The path toward. The path away.
When I do it for me I do it for all. I belong anywhere this need exists.
If we were in church, this is where all the people would say Amen.
And I would bless them.