My sweet friend Romy complimented me on my “extension” after dance class last week. It felt really good. I’m a pretty big guy, so when I spread out my arms or stretch my legs, I can take up a lot of space.
This used to make me uncomfortable and self-conscious, an insecurity that I’m sure emerged decades ago when an adolescent growth spurt left me feeling suddenly like I was all gawky knees and elbows. So I adopted a habit of sitting on my legs and crossing my arms as a sort of compensation. To contain myself and minimize my sprawling limbs all over the place, I developed a physical vocabulary that was almost apologetic.
It took quite a while to grow into my shape and to claim again bolder body language. Dance classes over the past few years have been a part of this process, learning to relish and celebrate my expansive self.
I’ve been thinking about how full extension isn’t just a physical thing. We can spread our “wings” vocally, emotionally, relationally. Indeed, we are born to do so — we are here to embody identity, connection, intimacy, meaning, truth, soul… And to do so extravagantly in our own particular way.
I have a refrigerator magnet that was a souvenir from the now-closed Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. It says, “Live lavishly!” and features the singular pianist in a fur-trimmed patchwork denim jumpsuit. He’s outrageous and wonderful.
Travis recently shared on the Bosque Facebook page this great quote from Jungian analyst Jim Hollis:
“We are not here to fit in, be well-balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little chunky, clunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”
Yes! And yet — most of us wrestle in one way or another with that same impulse to tuck our legs beneath us and cross our arms in self-protection with which I tried to make myself small as a geeky teen.
We retract. We edit. We bite our tongues and clip our own wings. Sometimes we do so by remaining silent when we have something to say or sing out, or by sitting still when life beckons us to stand or march or dance, or by guarding carefully our tender hearts even though they’re really made for rough-and-tumble belonging…
Each and every one of us deserves to be seen and heard, appreciated and loved — not in spite of, but because of, who we are. And there is nothing more beautiful than the full extension of Spirit as you and me and us into the world.
I love that we get to practice being and bringing our wholehearted selves together. See you this Sunday, April 14, friends. Service at 10. XO, Drew
© 2019 Drew Groves