“We, as intensives, are all the way in. And when we are all the way in, it means that when our hearts break, they break all the way. And there is nothing but a bloody pile of flesh on the floor, that somehow we have to get that extra wide pancake spatula and scoop it up and stuff it back inside our ribs.”
In order to get our ideas out into the world, we need to present- expose- ourselves to the world. To the hot sun of and cold tides of the internet, for example. How do we protect our selves- how do we find and apply the proper sunscreen- so that we can be present in integrity and also, protect our intensive hearts?
Transcript and notes:
Recorded June 12, 2023.
Hi, everyone. Let's talk about overexposure.
Our theme for July is exposure and visibility, two sides of the same coin. And I've talked about what it's like to put yourself out there and how it can draw people in and how it can offer people a space and how great that is. And also, it's really easy to get sunburned. It is really easy to get sunburned.
Somehow it feels like the social and political environments have gotten harsher as the sun has gotten harsher as climate change has decided to take over more and more and more of our lives. As we have decided to allow climate change to become what it has become. And social and political environments are not that different. In fact, we probably have more control over social and political environments on a short scale than we do over the sun. But it is really easy to get burned right now.
And it's really easy to not notice entirely how burned you are until it's too late. It becomes too late so easily. The sun shines down and it feels so good to be outside. Finally, finally, outside. Finally. Feet on the ground, hands in the dirt. Finally, finally at the beach, finally in the water. Finally, finally, finally not trapped in the house by one thing or another thing. That one day may be where everything lines up, and it's possible to be out there. Finally. Finally, finally, finally, you're out.
And if you're on a Pacific Coast beach, the odds are very, very high that the wind is blowing. Blowing so hard, it lifts up the sand and scours your skin like some kind of intense exfoliation of the world's strongest spa. Or maybe you get in the water, and it's chilly, but you don't notice how chilly you are until you get out. And your lips are numb and your mouth is sorta slow and you can't really make words.
I've only had that happen a couple of times. I learned to take heed when I thought it was just a little chilly and just get out earlier. But but every so often it happens right and and maybe you're on the top of a mountain where you're above the tree line. And suddenly the sun is really bright, but it's cold. So you don't notice until you get down to base camp, until you get back to your car until you're home in your bathroom at the end of the day. And you feel a little weird and you look in the mirror as you're washing your hands. And oh- well, you're bright red. That could explain a lot.
Despite the UV protective clothing or the sunscreen or both. Despite not feeling like you're having a problem. Sometimes you post a post on the internet and you get what Brene Brown called a "vulnerability hangover." And then you wonder if you should delete the post, but you know that deleting posts is considered not great, especially if people have put comments on the post that were personal or important or deep or complex. But you know, you know that's the cost of being exposed. And also overexposure can kill you.
And that's what people mean when they say people die of exposure. Sort of. But what they also mean is that exposure doesn't pay the bills that only exposure is not enough compensation, that no matter how many people saw you, and had the opportunity to attack you or support you, until those people turn into clients or customers or buyers, your work is essentially being done for free. And so if somebody offers you the opportunity to do something for them for free in exchange for exposure, well- people die of exposure. And on the internet, people also die of exposure not as often, but they do.
So what do we do? How do we exposure safely? What is the equivalent of sunscreen and parasols? Especially for intensives because when we go hard we go hard. We have to stay in integrity, we can't just have truth and lie our way through being in public. Nobody will believe us, because it'll show on our faces and our bodies, everywhere. And even if they do believe us, how long will we be able to keep it up? Not very long before we decide to say something that's true, and real, and then we're in trouble. So there's no real point in doing that.
Exposing something else that isn't as exposing. a constructed self doesn't really get us where we need to go. So instead, we want to construct ourselves in public, do something that is actually us, maybe not all of us, but most of us. Get ourselves out there in a way that's meaningful and useful and real. But without getting beaten to death. How do we do that? Because real people are really dying from this.
And so it's not that safe. And intensives, we are some of the most sensitive people I have ever met in my life. Our intensity means that we feel things deeply. And we do things wholeheartedly, whole bodied-ly. We are all the way in. And when we are all the way in, it means that when our hearts break, they break all the way. And there is nothing but a bloody pile of flesh on the floor, that somehow we have to get that extra wide pancake spatula and scoop it up and stuff it back inside our ribs. And hope, hope against hope, that the miracle of life, the miracle that is the knowing of life, will know how to put it back together again.
We have to hope against hope that our communities can hold us long enough for that stitching and knitting to happen. So we're taking a risk when we put ourselves out there. When we say what's really true when we name the thing that we know is happening. When all of that kicks in, we're taking a risk not just with ourselves, but with everybody who is connected to us. That's how community works. That's how interdependence works. That's how mycorrhizal networks work.
Yes, we could vanish, and the network would fix itself. But the network would rather fix itself and fix us that network would rather hold us all together and all functioning and all moving at the same time. The network would rather not adapt to a missing limb. The network would rather not adapt to us being gone. But we are taking a risk with communal resources because we belong to ourselves and to everyone else. We are taking a risk with a self, with a being, with a wisdom, with a knowing that is plugged into hundreds or perhaps these days thousands of other knowing, being, breathings.
And so when we take those risks, often we feel that weight. We know, we know that if something happens, if we become overexposed, we will need community resources to recover. Which means we have to be willing to be helped. We have to be willing to be the people that are supported by other people and not just self supporting because that's nonsense anyway. And we have to know that we might hurt. Maybe for a long while. Our skin our bones our flesh might be angry with us. Might be hurting. Might just be injured. That we might have to have long conversations with things that we didn't even think could make words in order to figure out what to do next.
And that we might never be the same. That experience might forever change us. Change what we are capable of, change our knowing: the bone-deep kind and the intellectual kind, both. We can be transformed by overexposure and it's not always pretty.
I think about Prometheus constantly having his heart and- liver- I think? eaten out by eagles and having them grow back over and over and over. For having the audacity to understand that humans needed fire. Why is the price so high for us keeping ourselves warm? For us being In community? For us having something to together around? Why? Why is there so much suffering in the narrative? It teaches us that our own care causes harm. And that's not right. That goes against my theology, but it also goes against my lived experience of the world.
My lived experience is that our own care, the care that we actually need, the things that we actually need- When we have them, when we provide ourselves or each other with them, it does the opposite of harm. It does healing, it does support. It engenders better things for everyone. So it's not wrong, to seek exposure and visibility. It's important to seek exposure and visibility. And also, and also, it's not wrong to say I will not be chained to the rock. I am not willing to stay in the sun so long that I sunburn.
If you want me outside that long, we're gonna have to find better sunscreen, we're gonna have to find shade. I'm going to need a nap. And it's okay to not only say that to others, but to say that to ourselves. Overexposure is painful and hard, and sometimes unavoidable, and sometimes damaging, and sometimes transformative in ways that we could never imagine.
Sometimes it leads to good things after all, but there's still that, you know, healing period, that reassembly period, that knit back together period, that period when we need support, and there is nothing wrong with needing support. That is how community is built. And also, it's okay to set a limit on that and say, "no, no, I'm not going to go so far that I break, I'm not going to go so far that I explode. I'm not going to go so far that I melt down. I'm not going to kill myself." It's not worth it.
And I mean that both literally and figuratively. It is absolutely reasonable to say there's a limit. This is my limit. I will not torture myself. And to stop.
There are times when we push ourselves further, because it matters that much. But it's fair to decide that some things are not worth that to you and to stop. And even to walk away.
Thanks for tuning in. Talk with you soon.