"The best parts of life are not always about the complete story. Sometimes it's okay for life to be about one chapter, one verse, one night where giants meet around a camp fire to compare notes."
The invitation to create is one every person is given. It requires vulnerability to release anything we create. This is hard because people can be quick to judge, slow to love, or too busy to notice. Even when you prove yourself it is hard to feel like people believe in what you have to offer. Last night was a situation where none of these things were true.
It started with an invitation to a book club which ended not being a book club, but a collective group of creative people getting together to share what they have been working on. There were a couple poets, a violinist, a handful of guitarists/song writers, and me. I was put in charge starting the bonfire which was great because I'm a much better fire maker than a writer or talker.
The talent of the others was intimidating and I felt very small compared to the creative giants sitting around the circle. I believe this is the exact type of thing people are meant for, but it is also the exact type of thing which makes me feel like I'm not good enough. I considered saying fire-making was my talent so when it was my turn we could all just watch the wood burn and then I wouldn't have to talk at all. I knew this isn't what I actually want. I need to get over the anxiety of sharing.
One thing I am okay at is making it through times where I am uncomfortable in order to collect a story. It may sound impersonal, but to me it's like being an explorer, viewing each experience as a future story - this being one where I got to sit around a camp fire listening to giants share about their weight, laugh deeply, and make the earth beneath them shake when they spoke. It moves from being impersonal to personal when - eventually, inevitably, and usually quite quickly - the characters from the stories become friends.
My biggest recommendation is this - if you ever get in a situation like this make sure the group you are with love people. One thing is for sure, the group I was around last night love people a lot, and in so they made one rule - No prefacing your work with an apology. No "I'm not that good" or "sorry in advance". Just sharing. Just putting my voice out there, feeling very small, pretending the words are coming from a giant without saying "sorry, I'm actually very small".
The best thing came as we kept moving through the night, listening to different people express themselves helped me believe in their story and believe in mine a little more too. Listening to the group made it obvious that what we share is in some way all the same. Each song is only a part of someone else's creative story. It's a chapter or even a paragraph of what they are offering.
By the end of the night I felt pretty weird, because they actually liked what I had read - the first chapter of the book - and shared - a story about how a drug dealer I despised ended up being one of the nicest people I've ever met- but I still had to work hard to believe they weren't pretending. More so, I get frustrated because I want the book to be done. I want so badly to hand over everything because I want to get the whole thought out. Most of the time people have questions or thoughts and in my head I know their thoughts or questions are addressed in chapters 2 and 5, the story I really think they'd like is in chapter 9, to truly understand why I'm uncomfortable right now they'd have to read chapter 4, and the best part of all is chapter 32, but you'd have to read the 31 previous chapters for it to be worth it.
It becomes important to realize the best parts of life are not always about the complete story. Sometimes it's okay for life to be about one chapter, one verse, one night where giants meet around a camp fire to compare notes. Sometimes it is the moments where you don't get to apologize or explain which make creating and collecting stories an understandable and alright way to go about life. Most of the time when I want to feel comfortable I run away into the mountains to go camping. When I'm there I don't need to impress the trails and I don't need approval to climb rocks or watch the sunset. I can sit in the river without worry that it won't like me. I can be naturally me and not have to wonder if it's good enough. I do not know if it is possible for me to get an equal feeling from a group of people, but if it is possible I know it comes from nights like last night.
Being uncomfortable and still sharing is something people could generally do a better job of. The rule of non-apology is a special thing as is sitting around a fire and collectively listening to giants talk. More than songs, poems, or chapters, it is these type of nights and this type of community which people are meant to create.