Funnily enough, my husband and I were having lunch yesterday before the event and talking about what we learned growing up in each of our families. His family's motto might have been: ALWAYS BE SAFE!!!!! And mine would have been: YOU MUST BE SUCCESSFUL!!!!!
Success in my family back then meant money and status, big house, nice car, good grades, fancy degree, etc.--measurable and obvious. By these standards, last night's Human Body Project event was not a success. Besides two reporters and the ten people who were helping me, only nine other people showed up (ten if you include an infant).
Odd and surprising. For the first event I was pretty convinced no one would come. For this one, I was freaking out that there would be a crowd scene because so many people had told me they were coming and bringing friends. As I said last night, I was spared that particular freak-out.
Besides dealing with being naked, one of the things that I experienced intensely at both events is a sense of responsibility for the experience the audience is having. I'm pretty sure I've written about my over-responsibility issues somewhere in these blogs. I'm female and the eldest child and I think it goes with the territory. But how useless a burden it is.
At the first event I suppose I had the overwhelming nature of the event--more than 70 people; my first time standing naked; strong group energy--to carry me beyond that worry. But for this one, here I am in what looks like a large, empty room when only 20 or so people are in it (including the two reporters who travelled especially from Calgary) and I'm trying to think, how do I salvage this for them all? YOU MUST BE SUCCESSUL IN A MEASURABLE AND OBVIOUS WAY!!!!!
Success=large numbers of people having an intense experience.
In my real life, I would try to make people feel at ease and I would chat. Sometimes I catch myself at this and think--what the fuck? Why do I think it is my frickin job to make the world feel at ease? Ironic, hey? Since my project is about discomfort and all.
Last night a voice kept coming to me: just be here. I know, I know, you've heard it before. But the phrase helped me. I let myself move past wondering how to fix the experience for those who were there. At the first event, it felt important to connect with the people in the audience. I made a lot of eye contact and eventually went around the room and got close to people. Last night, that didn't seem like what needed to happen. As I let go of feeling responsible for the audience's experience I was able to have a very deep experience myself.
I felt unbelievably grounded and strong, like a tree rooted to the earth. I have never felt that strong and still. As a yoga practitioner I have made intentions to connect with that feeling of groundedness but last night's feeling was so available. I also felt a lovely connection to the being growing inside me, something I have rarely been able to feel during this pregnancy of perpetual poisoning. It was a deeply peaceful experience for me when I could have made it a stressful one.
To me, this is real success! I experienced a form of self-love! I did that!
I'll admit that afterward I said to my husband: maybe the Human Body Project is just about (expensive) therapy for me. Last night sure seemed like that. (But some of my helpers said they also felt peaceful. I haven't looked at comments from other audience members yet. But probably not everyone thinks the way I was trained: YOU MUST BE SUCCESSUL IN A MEASURABLE AND OBVIOUS WAY!!!!!)
One of the things I love about these events is that no one knows what's going to happen. While only nine paying customers may seem like a bust, I just don't see it that way. I think it would have been really hard on me if the crowd I was expecting showed up. After last night I actually feel far more able to handle a crowd if I do ever get one.
I still have faith in the project. Yes, it's therapy for me. I also believe it will reach people as it needs to. I'm not sure what kind of experience people had last night and I'm not sure what kind of experience they were looking for and, I realize, how can I ever know those things or be responsible for them anyway? For those who were there last night, I thank you again for the experience I had.