Something I think about often enough is how powerful it is, how good it is, when you experience people being themselves, even when and maybe especially when they are quite unique. Being at the Elton John concert brought that to my mind again for a couple reasons. One of the obvious reasons would be Elton John’s flamboyant ways. I don’t need to spend words evoking what I mean, the glasses, the feathers, the shoes, the sparkles, the crazy antics at the piano…………greatly subdued as they were in this concert, it was still a force somehow. Anyhow, what a gift to the world that he did not tie himself in knots trying to fit into the box that society would have deemed appopriate for him. Our lives are better because he had the courage to be himself.
The thing that dawned on me through the concert was the delight created by the antics of one of the drummers. He was seated at the highest point of the stage, wearing a bright white shirt. He often played a tambourine and it was really awesome to see how he let the music flow through him, he moved his arms in big and rhythmic ways creating a side show to Elton’s main act. It could be seen from a distance but with the benefit of the camerawork we had closeups of this action and the joy that sourced it. It was great. We all went home talking about that guy. I believe he is one of the band members that has been with Elton since the 70s. I wonder if he let himself be so expressive in the early years. I am not sure what the journey has been for this guy but at this stage he served as another example to me of “be yourself Kathy.”
There is a bit of a tension within me, you cannot even imagine how much I long to be seen as an appropriate member of society. I am a people pleaser and I want to be seen as normal. There are decisions I have made and actions I have taken that are a little bit on the edge, those were very hard for me. The most obvious one was the decision to not be a career girl based on the education I had acquired and instead to live the rural life. Smaller decisions about being “out there” or sheltering myself happen regularly.
A recent example of this is something I was holding onto as a fun and important conversation with Russell but I wasn’t sure where to put it. Elton and the drummer set the stage for real.
A few months ago I started using Facebook differently. Following more groups and doing less with my newsfeed. One odd thing led to another. Liking a post about pyrex bowls somehow led me, click by click, to be a part of a group that likes mid century modern architecture. I can waste alot of time looking at shared real estate listings for these homes built in the 1950s and 60s, with lots of windows, stone, woodwork and built-in cabinetry. I am very very drawn to the varied ways this style works itself out. I am also drawn to the comments section where people ooh and aahh over the decor of that time, especially pink tiled bathrooms. I don’t share that particular excitement but its fun to read about.
One day I was pondering why I like these posts so much, why I am drawn to this style. It clicked. Growing up we visited my Aunt and Uncle in their home which is mid century modern architecture. I enjoyed these visits. As a young adult I was welcomed by them and later when I brought kids along we were kindly entertained amid the generous amount of light and warm wood accents that were a part of their home. The magic quality of the space of my childhood was still present decades later.
I thought this connection I had made in my brain was kindv’e important. I wondered, “should I put this into a note and send it to my uncle and aunt?” Why shouldn’t I? Well, my aunt and uncle are very classy people, they have spent their lives committed to matters of substance, committed to understanding depths of politics and history, appreciating classical music, art and literature, appreciating beauty. How would some silly anecdote from their niece land in the midst of all that fills their world? I decided to do it. Perhaps because I have lost both my parents I need my aunt and uncle more than I used to. I still need elders. It wasn’t a risk to send the note, not really, but it wasn’t exactly normal either, some note out of the blue saying, “I just realized I have always loved your house.” I sent it. A month later Russ and I were in the city for appointments and we stopped in for coffee. Due to Covid it had been a long time since we had been there. It was wonderful to be in their midst again. As we settled in my uncle pulled out his ipad, he had something to show me. It was an advertisement for the floor plan they had selected for the construction of their home, all those years ago. That in itself was interesting and led to more conversation about their home and homes like it. I received the message, unspoken, “I am glad you sent that note.”
After we left I said to Russ, “That was great! My favorite part was that picture, it was cued up, ready to show me, that note I sent meant something, I’m glad I sent it, as weird as I thought it was.” Russell’s response was immediate, it struck me so much I tapped it into my phone and texted it back to him, he said, “do you wanna be a stranger or do you want to let people know how kooky you are about certain things.” I don’t want to be a stranger, especially to my people, my aunt and uncle are my people and I am thankful for that. I took Russell’s shared wisdom as another anecdote to strengthen the message, “be yourself Kathy, don’t worry about seeming different, let what is within you flow.” I need to make this decision almost every day, to just be myself, even if I appear different.
A long time ago I was going through some tough times, I went to see a priest. His job was to listen to me. He heard what I had to say and delivered this nugget of wisdom that I think about so often, he said, “our hope lies in being who we are.” As every year passes I get what he was saying more and more. The world is especially beautiful, interesting and whole when people are free to be themselves, their quirky selves. I am thankful to Elton, that man on drums and to Russ for giving me more vivid ways to image and embrace this fact.