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skin, paul simon, and blogging {sunday scribblings}

liz lamoreux

For the last two months, several bloggers have joined me in an exercise of looking in the mirror each day. Spending time looking at the skin in which we live.* I have written about how my face seems to have become the face of someone else, the person who is truly me. Similar to how people start to look a little different as you begin to know them, really know them, and love them. This feeling continues today. I look in the mirror and I see someone I have always known, but someone I know and love just a little more.

I realize that the next step to my journey is looking beyond my face to the rest of my body. Loving all of me. That is not so easy. To love all of the skin in which I live. Step by step, letting go of the judgment, breathing, opening up a little, being honest, looking myself in the eye, cracking open a little more…I will get there.

This journey, these “aha” moments, the little realizations, and being present here and writing about it, all of this is changing my life. Day by day. I am more awake. Sometimes I just want to start dancing through the streets shouting, “Do you see me? I am alive? Yes! I am finally me.” I called this blog “be present, be here” because being present and alive in my life was something I was seeking for myself. This will be something I always seek, but I have found that by writing every day and opening up my heart to others, I am actually present in my life more often than not. And this means I am healing. It is as though each day another stitch pulls through my broken heart.

Earlier in the summer, I wrote a post about a song called “Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean” by Paul Simon. (You can read this post here.) The day I wrote it, I was sitting in my bed with my laptop, listening to his new CD. I didn’t know all the songs yet but was enjoying them as though he was sitting in my room singing to me. And when that song came on, something shifted inside me. I felt like he wrote those words just for me. As though we share an understanding of something bigger than both of us. Over the last few months I have listened to this song on repeat often and have downloaded other songs to my iPod and melted into the words of this songwriter. Driving home from Seattle two weeks ago, I was singing in the car and was taken aback by a line from “I Am a Rock,” a song I have known since I was a small child, “I have my books and my poetry to protect me. I am shielded in my armor, hiding in my room, safe within my womb.” For so long this was my truth. To hide behind the words of others so that I did not have to share my own.

On Friday night, my dad, his girlfriend, and I were standing in front of the merchandise counter before the show (Jon was standing back but he was there). I don’t usually get t-shirts (because I hate how I look in them and the “girly” Ts are never big enough for this chest of mine) but my dad was insisting I get one. There was a great brown one with the name of the new CD (Surprise) on it and a man in a canoe. But then suddenly I realized that the blue shirt on the top row said this: I figure that once upon a time I was an ocean. But now I’m a mountain range. Something unstoppable put into motion. Nothing is different, but everything’s changed.** And had an outline of Paul Simon singing with his guitar.

I began to tear up and pointed. The young man behind the counter just kind of looked at me, “which one do you want?” That one please. And I hugged that t-shirt through the entire concert. He didn’t sing this song (I didn’t think he would, I had seen a set list from another concert on this tour), but I felt like this song means as much to him as it does to me. I wore it to bed that night and dreamt of Paul Simon singing all night long.

During the concert, my eyes filled with tears several times, but it was during the second encore when Paul stood on the stage alone with his guitar that the tears made the journey from my eyes to the skin of my face. I have heard “Wartime Prayers” maybe a hundred times over the last few months, but it was having my entire focus on this man singing his words that made them sink into my heart. And for the last two days I just keep singing these words at the top of my lungs:

Because you cannot walk with the holy if you’re just a half-way decent man.
I don’t pretend that I’m a mastermind with a genius marketing plan. I’m trying
to tap into some wisdom. Even a little drop will do. I want to rid my heart of
envy, and cleanse my soul of rage before I’m through.

I sit with my legs crossed on the couch, laptop on my lap, headphones on, Millie curled up beside me. My arms above my head as I sing these words as the words dance around me, inside me; these words are everywhere.

But as I listen to this song, just as I did Friday night, it is these words that remind me of what I need most of all. What we need:

Well, you cry and try to muscle through, Try to rearrange your stuff. But
when the wounds are deep enough, and it’s all that we can bear, we wrap
ourselves. In prayer.

We walk through this journey together. We are not alone. We hold one another up. With our words, our truth, our past, our future. We grasp the hand of the person next to us, we touch them, skin to skin. We say, together, we say, “you are not alone.”

*This is the part where I say I thought I would have time to truly “lead” this exercise but life was just too hectic. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blogs and joining me on the journey.

**Lyrics from "Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean" by Paul Simon. To read all the lyrics of this song and the others from his newest CD visit Simon's website.

To read more words that all started with the writing prompt "skin," visit Sunday Scribblings.