I’ve had Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf” going through my head this week. Psychedelic funk has seemed an apt soundtrack for Life lately. And this song has got it going on in so many ways — the hip-pumping bass-line beat, the weird spelling of that title, the provocative lyrics.
It’s empowering to sing: Thank you for letting me be who I am. Thank you for allowing what already is to be. This could be sarcasm, but I don’t think that Sly meant it that way. Though there is definitely a bit of celebratory defiance in here, and I like it.
Because on one hand, we don’t need anyone’s permission to be ourselves. I’m a strong, free, and self-actualized individual, thank you very much, and my rebellious hackles go up at the idea that anyone “lets” me be.
On the other hand, I’ve been around long enough to know that it sure helps to be accepted and loved through our processes of self-discovery and actualization. It’s depleting and frightening to keep practicing self-expression when it feels like we’re doing it in a vacuum.
I mean, I don’t really know what sound a tree makes if it falls in the forest without anyone else there to hear it. I do know that when I’ve been a falling tree, it’s easy to doubt my own noise, and to wonder if my sound (or my fall, for that matter) really matters. It’s absolutely essential to our wellbeing for us to be heard, seen, and loved — and to be heard, seen, and loved not in spite of who we are but actually because of who we are — growing and falling, rising again in our dancing shoes.
For me this song’s refrain captures this idea: “I want to thank you falletinme be mice elf again.”
We are born to be fabulous and uniquely funky creatures strutting our stuff on a glowing light floor under a disco ball — we’re already that. And we all have an amazing opportunity to create a space for each other that recognizes and perpetually calls forth this glorious individuality. It may be counter-intuitive, but ultimately there’s a sweet truth in the idea that we only really get to be our full-out unapologetic audacious individual selves through our togetherness.
That’s an exceptional and beautiful thing, and I believe that it’s the whole point of community — whether we’re making music and art, serving others, playing, or exploring our spirituality. The reason we do it together is to experience this groovy harmony — bold individuality within a shared reality, each part singularly whole yet all together part of a whole.
At the same time that you and I create a relationship, the relationship in turn creates you and me.
I feel a tremendous gratitude for you, my friends. I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, March 31. Service at 10. XO, Drew
© Drew Groves 2019