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As long as I stop short, as long as something remains unfinished, or unspoken, I cannot be evaluated, found wanting, fail. I am safe.

I dream of a project, an idea, a possibility, or something to say only to turn around to safety. If you don’t try, you can’t fail. If you don’t ride, you can’t fall off. If you don’t share your thoughts, you can’t look foolish. Realities born of shame for not being smart enough, accomplished enough, good enough, all without practice enough. Graded as less than. Compared and found lacking. Who hasn’t had such an experience? We learn to rein ourselves in before someone else can do it for us. At least I did. I can only speak for myself.

Over my lifetime I’ve had a recurring dream of being on the outside of a barn, looking in at a gathering, a party, a dance going on inside. Always it was the same. Standing at the window looking in. One day a voice deep inside said: You are invited in. Courage, direction, guidance are yours for the asking. Ask. Be still. Listen. Cross the threshold. Join the party. Say yes.

The last time I had the dream, I had moved to the open door. I still had not crossed the threshold, but I had moved to the entrance.

What if I said yes?
To whatever it is that is wiggling and jiggling and tickling inside me?

This may sound strange, but what I need to say yes to is Joy, Wonder, and Passion. The world is a serious place with important problems to solve. Somewhere along the way, I took that on. Lost my play factor. It happens to a lot of people. Passion gets lost to perfection. I knew serious. I knew strength, logic, control, organization. But I had misplaced joy, wonder, spontaneity, play.

Passion and joy in children are noisy, messy, out of control. The big people tame us and shame us, and then tell us, as adults, to claim our passion. What? How? I’m out of practice.

But what if I said yes, yes to my deepest being, the child I was who was full of joy and passion?
Yes, what if?

An Ode to Passion and Joy – (because I’m trying to learn to say yes)

Passion and Joy are scary sisters.
They wear wild clothes, and their hair is a mess.
They have mud on their shoes,
twinkles in their eyes.
They say what they mean
and shock the old people.
Make them uncomfortable with their wrongness,
their lack of understanding,
of manners,
of civility,
of common sense.

Don’t you know the world’s a scary place?
You can get hurt.
You WILL get hurt.
Sit down. Be quiet. Be careful.
Wash your hands and comb that god-awful hair!

Passion and Joy are tender sisters
who learn to hide their messiness,
to control their outbursts,
to take naps like good little children,
and to slip away safely into the forest.

They become wild animals easily scared.

If we want them back, we must be still.
Hold out our hands.
Be patient, observant.
Call softly. Leave food.
Listen intently. Be accepting.
Have kind eyes.

They startle easily
and can disappear quickly even though,
if they could choose,
they’d like to come home.

I have seen them.
Coaxed them closer.
But have not yet tamed them –
which is to un-tame them.
Give them back their mud,
put away the hairbrush,
buy peasant skirts at thrift shops.

I long to see their twinkly eyes,
feed them oranges,
and walk proudly around the neighborhood.

Look who’s visiting me!
Look who’s moving in to stay!

That’s my ode to Passion and Joy! That’s me saying YES!