On this, my last full day in DC before I head out to Young Adult Friends Gathering 2010, I am taking to time to run last minute errands, tie up loose ends, and otherwise prepare myself. For this reason, I'll break my unwritten rule and allow the subject of this post to be primarily autobiographical. Once settled in after a long journey, subsequent posts will center around my observations and thoughts regarding the conference, which means more God talk for those receptive to it.
Tomorrow morning I rise at an ungodly hour and begin what will be an exhausting, two day trip by car to get to Topeka, Kansas. Rest assured, I am excited about what lies ahead, though I am not exactly sure what to expect. When a member of another faith group, conferences I attended were almost exclusively comprised of fellow liberals. This gathering will include Quakers from every branch---the very conservative on one end, to the very liberal on the other end. While I am glad that an effort has been made to extend a hand of fellowship and community to those likely to have a completely different worldview than my own, I recognize also that this may present significant challenges. The format of worship, for example, has been carefully designed to strike a compromise between each group. Conflict resolution and building alliances with others is a life skill I know will do me much good to learn, but there's a hopefully understandable part of me who enjoys living in the Progressive, protective bubble I've crafted for myself.
As I've alluded to at other sites, I'm taking part in some very intensive therapy right now. Those of you who read this blog frequently have seen the burnt edges and the residual impact, and many people have recognized that there was something going on. Always an open person, sometimes even to a fault, the process has required me to confront parts of myself, my identity, and my past that even I never felt comfortable vocalizing until now. If I were an album right now, I'd be some combination of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Joni Mitchell's Blue. It is said that when the latter artist previewed the master recordings for a close friend, the friend's advice was "Joni, keep some of this for yourself!" Fortunately for us she chose to ignore that advice and if dispensed to me, I would do the same.
Keeping secrets never did me much good. Most of the time they made me worse. By this, of course, I mean destructive secrets. It is for that reason that I quickly get exasperated and judgmental when confronted with people who either can't, don't, or won't be honest with themselves and their problems. I suppose I want to help people, and there is a severe limit to what anyone can do to help a person who keeps silent. The example I turn to now is that of a fellow musician, an acquaintance, who has been going through a Twelve Step program. What prompted said musician to get more actively involved was when I, introducing an original song, shared its true inspiration and meaning.
At face value, the song seems to be about a narrator expressing anger and betrayal at a lover. In reality, I was writing about life with a chronic illness, bipolar disorder. Sometimes it really seems as though my limitations are an actual human being with whom I have a contentious relationship. But this concept, metaphorically speaking, has pretty much been my Modus Opperandi over the course of my life. Some will submerge their thoughts in their art in cryptic fashion, and some will, like me, get right up to the surface and not quite have the courage to poke my head above water. Creatively speaking, there might be a virtue in this sort of set up, but from a health standpoint, it's not the best coping strategy every devised. I know this now.
In any case, I now conclude. My sincere hope is that this gathering will provide me a new perspective badly needed and that I will add a unique voice to the proceedings.