Get Uncomfortable

Andrea Gibson, my favorite spoken word poet offers some brave words to challenge us to “Say Yes”. To live into this life with purpose and grit. To get uncomfortable and grow toward something our great grandchildren and ancestors will be proud of. “This is for you”. 

I had the privilege of substitute teaching at Lyons Valley Preschool recently. I was reminded of how truly present these tiny humans are. They hold the gifts of curiosity and wonder. As they grow older, they begin to form opinions, forget the magic and power they hold, and begin to conform to society and our expectations. For a moment, I was able to witness this precious magic unfold during “Share”. This is when the students bring a treasure or something special from home. Each child takes a turn standing up in front of their peers proudly and holds their chosen thing while everyone asks these three simple questions: 

  • Where did you get it?
  • What is it made of?
  • Why is it meaningful to you?

Which made me think. What if we considered this in our opinions, thoughts, beliefs and habits?

They had to come from somewhere, right?

What are they made of?

Why are we devoted to them, and are we willing to shift the belief or system? I grew up in the South. Believe me. There are some thick southern roots and a history I am not proud to dig up. The soil of that place holds secrets still needing to be spoken and healed. If you have not yet seen the film Harriet, please do. 

However, history is a powerful teacher. In order for it to serve us rather than repeat itself, it is up to us to strive to understand how to move forward and through the growing pains of change. 

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

Martin Luther King Jr. 

We are living in critical times. The planet is shaking us up with volcanoes, earthquakes and fires. Demanding we pay attention. We have nothing and everything to lose. We have the opportunity to get curious, to connect with others. To rewrite or edit our stories. 

Someday we will become something we haven’t even yet imagined. But right now we are stories…We are dreamers, soñadores of the world.

~Yuyi Morales, Dreamers

We can ask how to say something in another’s language. It’s awkward, yes. But the effort is a gift. We can talk to the person standing and waiting in the cold for the bus beside you. They are cold too. We can peek into the kitchen at the restaurant to thank the cooks who prepared our food in the back behind the scenes. We can honor those who do walk in fear after dark or in broad daylight and are threatened…for what? A different skin tone, a different holy book and God, a different way of learning or identifying in the world. 

We have the responsibility to create change. It is in and ON us. Please consider this:

Words of wisdom from Maya Angelou on developing courage:

I would encourage us to try our best to develop courage. It’s the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can be anything erratically—kind, fair, true, generous, all that. But to be that thing time after time, you need courage. We need to develop courage, and we need to develop it in small ways first. Because we wouldn’t go and say, ‘I’ll pick up this 100-pound weight’ without knowing our capacity. So we need to say, ‘Oh, I’ll start by picking up a five-pound weight, then a 10-pound weight, then a 25-pound, and sooner or later I’ll be able to pick up a 100-pound weight.’ And I think that’s true with courage.

You develop a little courage, so that if you decide, ‘I will not stay in rooms where women are belittled; I will not stay in company where races, no matter who they are, are belittled; I will not take it; I will not sit around and accept dehumanizing other human beings’—if you decide to do that in small ways, and you continue to do it—finally you realize you’ve got so much courage. Imagine it—you’ve got so much courage that people want to be around you. They get a feeling that they will be protected in your company.

Let’s get uncomfortable together.