Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Space to be bold


It happened. The Buffalo Unscripted premiere. With oohs and aahs and cries of "loading?", it was over. Now this six-month project in which I've invested a significant chunk of my heart is in the past tense. Sooo ... what?

I've written a lot of this project and this city this year -- about its capacity to make you question your purpose in life, why it's a model for the future, what makes it phenomenal, etc. And plenty more has been written/said/explained/celebrated elsewhere, especially in the last week.

So I'm not really going to gush more about Buffalo in this post. Instead, I'm going to tell you what I've learned.

Consider the following (emphasis mine):
"Looking at Prish's big table, where you can watch ideas bounce and bump around like pinball, I wondered if I belonged in Buffalo. If I needed the challenges the city faces to push me into being a different, better, less predictable version of myself. If moving to a place where there's room - lots of room - to be bold would be the end of my conversations that begin with, "You know, I always wish I had..."" 
This quote is courtesy of my friend and colleague Jason, the mastermind of the whole Unscripted concept, from a Buffalo Rising post he wrote a couple weeks ago. And it got me thinking -- what place in my life allows me to be bold?

For me, Buffalo did come to be a place where I was making a difference, or, at the very least, shining a spotlight on those who were. But I've experienced that connection in dunks and flashes elsewhere over the years, from producing PSAs for local volunteer organizations in Syracuse, to coordinating Manna on Main Street in North Wales, to working in the nonprofit sector in DC. Which tells me that it's not so much the place on its own, but an element within it that unearths what sometimes gets buried in my daily dramas and existential crises.

The right place unlocks what is already inside you. It does not make you; it reveals you. It might be easier to be your true/best self in that place, but that doesn't exist only there, because you now carry that self-knowledge wherever you go.

This is a comfort and a challenge. Because once the genie's out, you have a responsibility to act on it. Your mandate is to capture that momentum when NOT in that place -- in fact, many miles from it -- and draw on its essence rather than its reality. You can't wait to be back there. You have to try to capture that lightning now, here, again.

Being bold also takes courage to listen. I refer to it as my 'god voice,' but it's also intuition, gut instinct, that 'little voice,' conscience, however you regard it. It asks you to tune in to what you have to do next -- go where you have to go, not always physically, but psychologically too.

If I have taken anything away from my experience with this project, it's that I don't want to waste my days. I want meaningful work, friendly neighbors, and a down-to-earth community. I want four seasons and a shared past. I want great friends at my side making it happen, and family at home who understand why I'm doing it.

I don't know if I have to move to Buffalo to make that happen. In fact, moving would simply be the period at the end of a very long conversation with myself first. At this point, I have a clearer idea of what I want and how I want to enact it. That is a big, bold, important step, taken within the space I've made in my heart. And that space is only growing wider.

Prayer #185: Bolded

Lord of over-thinking, forgive my laser-like focus on the negative, which tends to drum up heartening zingers like these:

What if I hurt him?
What if I get it wrong?
What if I hate it?
What if I overreact?
What if I can't cut it?

Well, what if I changed my vocabulary?

What if I help her?
What it I get it right?
What if I love it?
What if I respond?
What if I never try?

What would happen then, God? What might be? What would You make of it? Of me?

Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Pamela Strother1:42 PM

    Beautifully said Julia. I admire how directly and honestly you and Jason have both confronted the life questions raised by your work in Buffalo. I have known Jason for a long time and I am happy to get to know you through your work together. I look forward to hearing about what comes next for you both.

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