Sitting side by side, breathing re-cycled air, traveling at 35,000 feet, we are beginning to nod off. We got up at 2:30 that morning to catch a dawn-o’clock flight. The noise cancelling earphones are dulling the sound of the engines.
The video I selected for us has begun, and within minutes we both fall asleep. This is not a statement about the movie, more a reality of what happens when you are sleep deprived.
The movie was The Greatest Showman, a musical. (Horrors, a musical!) I jerked awake just in time to see a number that pulled me from my sleep addled stupor. As I watched and listened, tears appeared, and my body began to vibrate slightly.
I was swept away by the power and poignancy of the lyrics I was hearing, and the metaphoric collection of characters who were singing.
The set up for the scene is when the “freaks of nature” from PT Barnum’s circus are not allowed to enter a posh reception. The sense of rejection and shame is palpable. Then one of the “freaks” begins to sing, reconnecting to her sense of self and dignity.
As I watched, I wondered how many people have felt like the characters in this movie. I know for myself I spent years trying to hide my “scars,” bruises, and perceived failings. (It doesn’t work.)
Brene’ Brown says that we live in a shame-based culture. If you’ve read any of her books, or watched her videos, her message is sad, powerful and uplifting. When I became familiar with her work, it was soon hard not to observe the pervasiveness of shame in our culture. And how much we try to hide all of who we are.
We may not be bearded ladies, unusually tall or short, albino or heavily tattooed as the characters in this movie (although there are a fair number of people showing lots of ink now days), but how much do we try to hide because we are scared to be seen?
How much about yourself do you try to ignore or avoid acknowledging? Some people ignore their bright light of brilliance, and others try to hide the dark, messy, sticky parts that lie below the surface. Here’s the rub, we are all bright lights with dark shadows.
Now I’m assuming this movie softened the nature of PT Barnum’s efforts to monetize human curiosity for anything that is different. Was he objectifying humans? Most likely.
Yes, this movie is a reinvention of history to illustrate the screenwriter’s point of view. However, the beauty of art is that it provides a unique perspective, to show us a new view, to incite a reaction or an emotion. To connect to universal truths.
Maybe I’m a romantic (yes), or maybe at times I can be simplistic (true again). However, I do look for and appreciate books, plays, movies, music, dance, poems, paintings, and art in general, that remind me of the glorious messiness of life, as well as the unique ways that beauty is all around us.
I want to be reminded of the divine brilliance that we are. And I want to remember that we are all beautiful, because some days it can be difficult.
When I see history repeat itself, or when I am reminded of how inhuman we can be to each other, to other living beings, and to our exquisite planet, I want that beacon of white light to pierce the darkness and remind me of the brilliance of spirit and love.
In our current culture of division and focus on fears of difference, I want to be reminded of our beautiful commonality.
We all have our scars, we all make mistakes that we wish we hadn’t, and we are glorious in our humanity.
“I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me….
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me….”
Perhaps we need reminders that instead of believing we are less-than, not-enough, scar-covered, etc., we are part of the Divine.
We can connect and create community through the recognition that we are all here learning, growing, and discovering our own Divine light.
May you choose to march forward, head held high, in honor of who you are meant to be, saying to yourself and the world, “This is me!”