That’s the good news.
Don’t try to be me – I’m already taken.
Even Majo, who actually is Majo, clearly has his hands full trying to keep up with being Majo. Do you think that you – who are not actually Majo – are going to have any better luck trying to be Majo?!
Be radically and ruthlessly and recklessly and ridiculously who you are.
Don’t know yet who that is? Welcome, totally, to the club. That particular process of discovery is exactly what this wild ride is all about – what this blog is about, what my book Radical Integrity is all about, what our Thursday night gatherings are all about.
I can be fun and even inspiring to hang out with: I’m big and wild and reckless and unpredictable and crazy and risky and dangerous and playful and fun and sweet and affectionate and warm – and so fucking funny! So if you want to also go to some of those places in yourself, come play with me! But don’t expect that I’m going to teach you how to go to those places. I can’t – you will only be disappointed, and maybe then disappointed with me.
You have to learn your own paths to go inside yourself. You have the whole Garden already within you, waiting for you to savor its delights. It’s your Garden, not Majo’s or anybody else’s. You just need to find the door, so you can open the door and walk in. Majo can offer things that will increase the likelihood that you will find the door – often through exploring your capacity for sex and power, because those are his major subjects. (They weren’t even offered when I was in college or grad school. If they had been offered, I might not have been ready – back then – to take them, even as an audit.)
If you are to be a warrior of self-expression, you need to become impervious to disapproval. You need to just not give a shit. For most of us, this is very hard work – or alternatively, when we let it be this, totally fun play. Brene Brown says that the personal quality that correlates most strongly to “open-heartedness” is “solid boundaries”. To the extent that you know how to protect yourself – to keep the transgressor away – then you can relax and then open your heart.
You need to have available to you as much as possible of the whole spectrum of aggressive responses – to use them when you need them. I know I may be taking this to an extreme when I challenge strangers on the street to fight me: “What are you going to do about it, motherfucker?!” I actually fucking said this to a strange guy the other day, who was giving me shit for bumping his truck with my car door. I’m taking it seriously that I need to learn about this whole dimension. I haven’t had to back any of this up yet with an actual fist fight, but trust me – I am so, so ready.
But you don’t need to explore all the outer limits of the aggressive, boundary-setting dimension. What I do suggest is that everyone should have in their hip pocket what I call the “nuclear option”. 20 years ago, I used to teach this to nice white middle-class suburbanites at the local community college – and totally got away with it. If even one student had ever complained about it, I would definitely have been history in that “college extension” program – but nobody ever did.
If someone has got you backed into a corner and is threatening to take away your integrity…if you know that in this moment it is crucial that you not back down, but you don’t have anything clever or biting or less totally aggressive to say, you need to be ready and willing and able to plant your feet, inhabit your whole body, take a deep breath and ferociously hit them with a good, solid “Fuck you!” You need to hurl it directly into their fucking face. If your good boy or good girl patterns – or any other kind of persona or “niceness” or self-consciousness or bullshit beliefs that this is not a “kind” thing to say – as long as any of this bullshit prevents you from being ready to powerfully protect yourself, you will always be vulnerable. And there will be limits to how willing and able you are to open your heart – limits that don’t need to be there.
Come play with me. Let’s yell “Fuck you” at each other. My son learned to do that with me at age 18 – and it changed everything between us, opened everything up, allowed us to be fully peers, brought so much freedom and joy into our relationship. It was, I absolutely know, part of how he became the amazing guy he is now.
Want another tool for the preservation of your true, beautiful self? One that doesn’t go quite as far as the nuclear option but is very, very powerful – and musically wonderful to boot? Check out Amy Steinberg’s song “Confidence”on her album “Must Be the Moon”. It came to me on Pandora at 4 a.m. on Monday, immediately after I had read an email from a “friend”, where she had really slimed me for saying something she considered “unkind”. (I think the irony of this was probably lost on her.)
I decided that the best way to rally my wounded spirit was to dance. I put on my headset, dialed up my Pandora app to Amy’s “Must Be the Moon” album I had been listening to the day before – and the first song it was cued up was “Confidence”, which starts with the line, “People will try to pull you down…” The song is an anthem of self-protection – but really much more than self-protection. Pride in who you are, self-love…tending the garden that is one’s self.