Permission to Touch

12694843_10206724520889788_1593744844446308582_oWe do this to our girls.  For their own protection, we say.  And maybe there is some real harm we save them from.  But at what cost to them?  What price does our world pay?

We tell them touch is dirty, hugs are easily misinterpreted for something ugly, their bodies are dangerous, boys are bad.  But what about the boy that needs a hug from the girl growing up with him next door to help him through a tough day at the mercy of playground unkindness?  What about the brother that finds the world so hard and cold he turns to fighting with others rather than get the need for touch met curled up in the arms of his big sister as she reads him to sleep at night?  What about the other girls who learn they need to focus on being better, looking better, getting better grades, doing better things than her rather than holding her hand and dancing in the rain?

We do not tell them they are a beacon of light to us and other children, that beams of beauty and healing flow from their fingertips and into the veins of those they touch.  We do not show them that their kindness makes the world a better place by simply being here.  We do not teach them that their bodies are made with soft rounded edges to express the welcoming gentleness of their souls within.  We never give them permission to learn love as a clean and essential thing, to use touch to bring power to the world.

Instead we cover their budding forms with drapery and block the power of their purity from view.  To protect it, we say.  We need to do this, we say.  We stifle the very sunlight and oxygen they need to grow strong and healthy.  We flout the purpose beauty has, which is to be seen.  We pour their liquid innocence into a cubed plastic trays and put it in the freezer.  As if beauty could ever be killed.  As if we could really protect their souls from being hurt.  As if love could ever be ugly.  As if the dry edges of hard cold could be better than the wet heat of heartbreak.

Yet there are those who crack their shells open and learn to build fences instead of walls.  They let themselves be seen and trust themselves to monitor the distance between their bodies and others.  There are those who create boundaries balanced with the boundlessness of their hearts.  Large light shines around the edges of the little bowls they were first hidden under.  Silver linings warm even the darkest of their interactions.  Electricity strikes when their palms touch the businesslike hands of others to seal the deal, to welcome the discussion, or to end the meeting.  Their black-ice pantsuits hint at the curves of hearts still beating hot red blood deep within.

We do not teach them, but our girls learn that they can be love and light in their world.  They are women now.  The only permission they need is their own.

4 Fears: What is stopping you from writing?

1. You are afraid no one will want to read what you write.

You know it but will probably never say it out loud – what other people think does matter to you!  If they think your writing sucks it will hurt you and you will probably be convinced to believe it.  But does it really mean it does?

Conquering this fear:

Come on.  You have friends.  You have someone you talk to.  Someone who listens to you.  If a person finds what you say worth listening to, even for entertainment value alone, they will listen to you.  Writing is another form of speaking and those who listen now will read then.  It is another form of speaking yes, but in many ways a better form – you do not stutter, you do not reserve, what is written is written and not whispered or muttered.  So much more clear for your listener-turn-reader!

For those of you with no/few friends – this is an even more advantageous place to come from.  Your perspective will be new, fresh, different.  Your writing is probably going to shock those around you with the newness of your voice and your opinion.  But the friendless are more likely to fear #2 than #1.

2. You are afraid someone will read what you write.

Say, the friends you wish you had, the ex boyfriend of step-father your villain is based on, the person who you know will disapprove of your ideas – for instance, my conservative, Bible-thumping, far-right republican grandmother will probably bury me quietly in a shallow grave were she to read a hot romance scene I had written.  It may be far more general a fear than that – a fear of your own success, a fear of your own power to reach others, a fear of the responsibility that goes with that power. 

Conquering this fear:

Think of your favourite writer.  Imagine the world of books without them.  Your reading life would be bereft, your idea bank would have a much lower balance and be perhaps overdrawn, and the album of images you store in your head would be missing some particularly profound moments. Think back to when they sat down for the first time with a pen and were hit with this particular fear.  What would you say to them?  How would you cheer them on? 

Now go say these things to yourself.  This is much bigger than you are, you poor puny potential writer.  You are someone’s favourite.   It is part of your purpose as a human being to fill the space in their library, guide their thoughts on a journey through your ideas, and provide for them the choice between an idea that was once only yours and their own way of thinking.  Their future will be bereft without you. 

3. You are afraid to reveal to others what you really think. 

We glean from our own experiences the characters and circumstances that make up our stories.  Our characters have a root in reality, their weaknesses and their strengths come from real places in what we perceive of the people around us.  Our opinions, our agendas and our emotions colour who they become in our books – FACT.  Another fact is that we  write from secret places within us.  We write from love, from respect, admiration, desire, but also (and just as often) from guilt, hurt, anger, pity, annoyance, and vengeance.  We find in writing it is easier to face down our villains and confront them than in life.  But in writing these things out we expose ourselves to the realities of what happens after they have read the story.  We all have our secret thoughts and we reveal them very carefully.  Writing can make us less careful and this is what we fear.

Conquering this fear:

The solution lies in living a life and writing from the same place – a place of authenticity.  Censorship of your writing is not the answer.  Honesty in your living is.  Maybe your writing can help lead you to this place of authenticity.  Maybe this is the bridge that will get you to being the real and the best you.

4. You are afraid to really think.

Not only do we fear revealing to others what we really think, but really thinking is in itself a fearsome task.  There are issues each of us has shelved and refused to face, memories that have been repressed and hurts that have been ignored.  The catharsis that writing can push you through is something many of us are not ready for.  And so we write around subjects and push out mediocre works in place of masterpieces of triumph.  For instance, in my own life I face issues of race.  The impact race has had on my family life is one I struggle to face and to write about.  I don’t want to face the harm that the actions of my loved ones has put me through.  I don’t want to face blaming them and then forgiving them.  I don’t want to deal with their self-righteousness and open myself up to being hurt even more when they decide they don’t want to be forgiven because they have never done anything wrong.  I don’t want to face it, much less reveal the way I see it to these same persons.

Conquering this fear:

There are some towns there are no roads around, only through.  We can get stuck in them and make them our final destinations, or we can push through them and get to the destination we were made to journey to.  But in order to undertake the journey we must face what it is worth to us.  Does defining yourself and your path and creating your own space to be authentic have enough value for you?  What possibilities would you create by taking the steps to write?

I hope this inspires you to pick up your pen today.  Pray I find the value in my final destination enough to conquer my own fears.