A few years ago, a Polish proverb hit social media. This saying was everywhere all…
Why can’t you trust atoms? Because they make up everything.
It’s a silly joke, maybe even stupid. Still, I must admit that it resonates lately — the part about not trusting, about not being about to trust in that which makes up literally everything, the very fabric of reality. Ugh. It sure looks like a godawful mess out there, in so many ways and on so many levels, and it’s really hard to not have that erode our confidence, our faith, our trust in each other…
Actually, my state of mind is not entirely dreary. About half the time, I’m wildly enthusiastic, verging on manic, both at home and work. I have ideas for three ambitious theatrical endeavors, workshops and service projects, and a plan to completely renovate our back yard!
It’s only the other 50% of my waking life in which I find that all I can do is watch “Great Performances” on PBS and sob through revivals of classic Broadway musicals.
The mood-swings are getting sort of exhausting and boring, so I’m trying to ameliorate or at least slow them down. But I know I’m not alone in this, nobody has to look far to understand why everyone might be feeling unsettled and upset these days, so I don’t want to skim over the surface of it.
My hope is that we can really support each other as we address the convoluted conditions of our lives honestly and mindfully. That means not just slapping happy platitudes on top, crossing our fingers that things will calm down on their own. The reckoning is always right here, right now, through the way it is not instead of the way it is… So buckle up, here we go!
While blubbering through a gorgeous performance of Rogers & Hammerstein’s The King and I last week, I began to catch a glimmer of something…
I paused and replayed Lady Thiang’s show-stopping solo, “Something Wonderful” about 8 times. When Travis finished his meeting and sat down in front of the tv with me, I made him watch it again too. It wasn’t just Ruthie Ann Miles’s exquisite bell-like voice. It was the song itself, the lyrics. I Youtube’d other performances of it — the 1956 film, renditions by Liza Minnelli and Carly Simon, high school productions uploaded by proud parents — and they all made me cry.
Now, this is a song I’ve heard many times before. I’ve always thought of it as pretty, but dated. Sweet, but codependent. Touching, but uncomfortably regressive. The words of someone in an imbalanced relationship, maybe even an abusive one. Lady Thiang is the King of Siam’s first wife, his head wife, number one of many. She’s trying to convince Englishwoman Anna to give the King another chance, to forgive his imperious boorishness one more time and offer him the council and support that he needs. She sings:
He will not always say what you would have him say,
But now and then he’ll say something wonderful.
The thoughtless things he’ll do will hurt and worry you,
Then all at once he’ll do something wonderful.
My realization this week, shimmering out of this song, was: what I’ve been missing in my relationship with the world lately — with my life lately — is exactly this sort of unconditional trust. I’m grieving, because it feels like I’ve lost it.
I intend to get it back. And to get it back mighty and sexy and rich.
We’re living in volatile times when it feels like anything can escalate from a minor disagreement to an irreconcilable division with one careless tweet. It’s hard to trust when we feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy’s pulled the football away for the umpteenth time. AND I think the only way we can reclaim our trusting, loving relationship with life is to trust and love it anyway, even if we’ve been burned before.
I believe that we can — we must — start reclaiming it right here in community. Maybe it’s even the main reason for our community to exist: to practice trust in and with each other. To practice it unconditionally, unreservedly. To assume it and expect it as our natural state of being together. Not because it’s been earned, necessarily, but simply because it’s who we choose to be.
And recognizing that actively choosing Trust is in itself empowering and very, very creative.
I am not talking about blind faith or careless agreeableness. I’m talking about boldly facing the actuality of our relationships, our lives, and the world, and electing to be open-hearted no matter what.
People often remark upon the fact that Travis and I appear to have a deep and exceptional compatibility. People are right about that. Being with Travis for the past 19 years has been the most effortless, graceful relationship of my life. Some of this might be because we’re both so awesome. However, I think the biggest factor in the success of our partnership has been the fact that we have always trusted each other completely.
I never doubt that Travis is on my side. He stands for my Good. As I stand for his. We disagree sometimes, but I never, ever think he’s against me. It never feels like a competition or score-keeping. We very rarely argue. When we disagree, each of us assumes that the other must have a really good point, an illuminating perspective that invariably proves helpful. He doesn’t always say what I would have him say, but mostly what he says is something really wonderful.
I want to — I intend to — cultivate more relationships of such utter trust. More relationships in which I have no question about the fact that we are unconditionally on each other’s side, for each other’s good. We can create this at Bosque Center for Spiritual Living. There’s nothing standing in our way. And if we can create it for ourselves and each other here, then we can start expanding such creativity out into our neighborhoods and our city, into our country and around the planet.
Part of this is looking for and assuming the best in each other, regardless of whether or not someone has earned this consideration, or deserves it. And remembering that doing so isn’t about giving the other person a pass for bad behavior, but rather about bestowing upon ourselves the power of transformation.
I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, at 10:00 am, at Maple Street Dance Space. With special musical guest, Dianna Hughes! You can also catch my talk online Sunday evening at BOSQUECSL.ORG. XO, Drew
©2021 Drew Groves