Tomorrow, I'm getting on a plane to attend the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival in Virginia as a representative of vox poetica, my much-loved side hustle. A local colleague here in Oklahoma will be there as well, and when we discovered our mutual plans to be in the same place a thousand-plus miles away—and got done jumping up and down and screaming—she asked if I'd signed up to read.
"Oh my no," I said, nearly jumping out of my skin at the thought.
Later, I was looking at the schedule. Sure enough: Open mic poetry reading. And I knew I'd be doing it, because it scares the shit out of me, and that's unacceptable. I can recite others' poetry all night long—ask me to do David Wilcox's "Boob Job" sometime—but my own?
Except, yes. My reaction was just that: a reaction. And as I felt around inside myself for that familiar old fear, it seemed to have blown out the door at some point, like a dust bunny on spring cleaning day. My insistence that, oh no, I'd never read my own poetry out loud—that was habit talking. Old habit that says, "Nobody wants to hear what you have to say."
But I couldn't find that fear or insecurity anywhere. Not that I don't have any at all, but a lot of old things inside me have blown out the door this year, because I finally learned how to leave the door open to let the blow away, so to speak.
So, I'm going to read some poetry out loud in front of real, honest-to-God, published poets. I'm going to write a damn novel (500 words tonight!). I'm going to do the job I was made to do. I may do all these things poorly, but here they are in front of me, a buffet of opportunities, and I'm done putting them down because I'm afraid.
So, yeah. Therapy worked.