It’s OK to be OK — being OK is about self-valuing. It requires stopping the stories, opening up, and being real.
In This Moment
I finished a pretty cool photo shoot a week or so ago, and seeing the images led me to think about how being open (being seen) changes everything. I decided to write about the experience, and will keep you posted as some of the photos become paintings.
It’s OK to Be OK could be the motto for our work. It’s not really about tooting your horn — it’s about recognizing how you stop yourself from being your best self.
I used this line with client a few weeks back, and it’s become her motto. I almost designed a tee shirt!
Something interesting happens when people really get something. They smile.
Or wiggle, or giggle, or sigh. Their body lets go, and there’s a moment of peace. With practice that moment can be repeated, "moment-by-moment."
It seems to me that the process is to endlessly re-examine what is right in front of you, and then to pay attention to the stories you tell. The "right in front of you" is simply the stuff you contend with.
The stories, on the other hand, are… stories.
The photo at top comes from a photo shoot I just did. Here’s the back story: in the late 60s, early 70s, I was doing my BA at Elmhurst College, near Chicago. I’d been taking photos, and painting, for fun, for years.
I ended up there just after the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and all the drama of the protests / Anti-war / Civil Rights movements. I "hired on" at the College paper, and started shooting.
I also renewed my interest in painting.
This all led to my opening a small photo studio, and doing the requisite portraits, weddings, etc. Then, I branched into model portfolios, advertising, and photographing and painting nudes.
I paid off a lot of my BA with my camera.
One of the things I discovered was that the kind of shoots I liked doing had to do with helping the folks I photographed peel away (literally and figuratively) layers of resistance to being seen.
It became a recurring theme in my paintings, too. I work at capturing both the bliss and the "tuned out-ness" of real living.
Here’s the point: some people resist being photographed. They have trouble thinking they could "let go" enough. Or, they let me take photos, and stay tight little balls.
Others do a serviceable job of being present, but hold themselves back a tad.
And others, (the top photo) well, you see the letting go in the almost ecstatic look on her face.
Now, she and I have talked about doing the photo shoot for 3 years. She saw my paintings, looked at my photos, and wanted to give it a try. In theory.
She’s also been working on her "OK-ness." More and more, choosing to drop old stories and to look after herself.
I have pretty good eyes for potential – it’s almost like I pick up what’s possible for people. It’s not that hard, as I think most people are holding themselves in check. Often, what I see, or feel, is a vibe of excited energy. It’s the passion I’ve been writing about lately.
I’ll say, "I like hanging out with you, and I’m also aware that there’s this really interesting, alive, vibrant person, right under the surface. I think hanging out with her would be amazing!"
And then, a bulb goes on, an opening happens, the rules get pushed background, and OK-ness flows. The non-sanitized person shows up, and indeed the energy level in the room goes up.
I’m reading “Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-called Preliminary Practices,” by Dzongsar Jamyang Khjentse
Here’s an interesting quote:
“In practice, though, we have a fondness for slavery. We love to be ruled by other people and things, to be chained up, dragged by the hair, and pushed and pulled by atmosphere, circumstance and situation.”
Our nature is to get so wrapped up in our stories, and from there to severely limit our behaviour. I hear grown adults complain that their parents, or spouse, of children are keeping them stuck.
I’d suggest to you that this prison is imaginary, and that the slavery to others – or to “the world” – is self-imposed. Or, as a client said last week, “OK, so maybe I just have to stop with the stories, and actually make a decision…”
We all have within us a deep "pool of cool" — all the interesting stuff that, if expressed, changes things. We’ve learned to stuff that stuff, behind walls of physical tightness, and behind stories of our ineptitude.
Once you see how you are stopping you, blocking you, restraining you, there’s a glimmer of hope, a bit of light. You can choose to break through.
Here’s the thing: this is ongoing and endless.
You have to resist your locked-down-ness, re-tell your stories, and act differently. Again, and again, and again. Just like the photo-shoot. Letting go for one shot is better than nothing, but letting go, shot after shot, is what makes the magic.
And typically, as this happens, each shot gets more intimate, deep, and open. Just like "real" life, truly lived.
This week, think about what would happen if you declared yourself and your life to be OK. Full. Real. Deep. Chargy. Imagine opening yourself to the full expression of who you are, in your relationships, in your "life production," and in your self-knowing.
Listen for the stories that you stop yourself with, and have a breath. Say, "I’m OK, and I can be real."
And then, "flash!" — do it!