Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: October 2017

Funerals and Musicals

It’s no secret that our family hates October. Actually, I feel a large proportion of Upper Sandusky hates it. Everything dies in October; the leaves and the the people we love.

I’m not sure if the Star Players, the local community theater group, intentionally chose October as the season for their annual all-ages musical, but if they did: genius. It’s exactly what we need. Not just to “take our minds off of things” or to “numb the pain.” Of course, escaping into a story for a few hours is a good way to set down our grief for a moment, but it’s more than an epidural for our funeral season.

Watching the leads yesterday finish the first act in complete harmony, my eyes automatically started watering. The tears returned when the whole chorus set into a song about being our weird selves – and not just because I identified personally as a misfit. I watched the Pinocchio character step into his role and show no restraint. He lived and danced into his character fully and it. was. beautiful. The Sugar Plum Fairy danced big and loud and you could see something come alive in her eyes that radiated all the way down from her soul.

I’ve yet to go to a community theater production and not cry at the curtain call. Not because I’m reliving my stage life (because I don’t have one) but because of the connection it evokes. There’s nothing I love more than seeing people live their gifts so feely. Community theater is unpaid and under-appreciated, yet these folks show up for the rehearsals, put in the hours for practice, and subject themselves to critics and criticism.

All for the sake of beauty.

Their voices, their acting, their delivery of certain lines of comedy isn’t something that can be mass produced and easily found. They conjured that up from deep inside and then shared it with the world. It’s as if they were willing to dig into the muck in which we wade and pull out the treasure chest of jewels and hold them up to everyone willing to show up for a $15 ticket and say, “See! It’s here! There is beauty among us!”

Despite what I feel right now about the month of October, this world does hold so much beauty.

I see it in the parents who gather together to send their children off to homecoming.  There is so much beauty, not just in the kids cleaning up and dressing fancy, but in the shared sense of Where did time go? How did s/he grow up so fast? amid the excitement.

And even in the heartache, I see a beauty in the full-force recollection of one of our community’s favorite educators as we learned of his passing. The shared grief reveals a certain element of connection as people light the darkness with their individual memories of a shared beloved. Each comment, each photo, each quote is a candle, held high.

I’m reading Brene Brown’s newest, Braving the Wilderness, and she writes about these elements of Inextricable Connection (emphasis mine):

All of these examples of collective joy and pain are sacred experiences. They are so deeply human that they cut through our differences and tap into our hardwired nature. These experiences tell us what is true and possible about the human spirit. We need these moments with strangers as reminders that despite how much we might dislike someone on Facebook or even in person, we are still inextricably connected.

Perhaps that’s the lesson of this particular October. Not just that it continues to be a terrible time, but that it can be terrible for all of us and we can share in it’s terribleness. Perhaps it’s the brokenness of this season that binds us together, forming its own kind of beauty.

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The Secret to a Happy Birthday (and maybe life)

It’s my birthday week, yet it’s also October.  Because it’s not a “big” number, the celebrations this year are low-key: Drinks with the girls, dinner with the hubs, pumpkins with the kids – such things are perfectly fitting for 37.

For not the first time, I declared my own birthday celebration with a few friends. I made a FB event and invited handfuls of friends to join me for wine. Some of them can make it; some cannot. Amid the apologies from the ones who have to miss out, I shared with a few of them this secret: I don’t take it personally.

You see, I only invited people who I already know like me. I do not question their love. Their attendance, or lack thereof, is not a statement about me or even our relationship. It’s a reflection of their state of life right now.  I want to be a good friend, one that understands, rather than being someone who wages an imaginary competition for their attention.

Life is so much easier – so much better – when I recognize how little is actually about me. Sure, I put my name on the birthday invite, but how a person responds isn’t about me. I don’t have to take everything personally. 

My friends, when I stop taking it personally, I am free. When I stop using others’ actions as a measuring stick of my own worth, I can feel infinite amounts of love. My identification with love, my knowledge that I am loved, comes from something bigger than birthday attendance.  Sure, it might be a way I can feel love, it can be an experience of love, but it’s not the source. So even if only one person could join me on the Friday of the Birthday Weekend, I can still feel secure and feel love. Love doesn’t come from people, it comes through them.

So as for me and my birthday, I’ll feel the love of some friends from afar; and I’ll see the love of other friends from across the table. I will find the source of love by turning my attention to it rather than expecting others to fulfill it. And I’ll feel free to accept love in all it’s forms of delivery.

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© 2017 Michele Minehart

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