I’m in a time of transition. Aren’t we always in a time of transition? Constantly changing and growing, evolving even slightly.

The spring is always a major time of transition for me. I have a 5 year “diary” that my grandmother gave me that has one page for each day of one calendar year, and each page is divided into 5 sections of 7 or 8 lines each for recording events of that day, each day, for five different years. I use it sporadically, writing in it maybe 15 or 20 times a year, and the parallell cycles that emerge feel really significant. I recently decided to rearrange my space completely (every member here has their own room as their private space. Mine is about the size of a master bedroom, maybe a bit smaller). I undertook the project specifically at this time because one of my partners (the tall, lanky, big-nosed guy from earlier posts) left for the summer a couple weeks ago. He’s spending the next 2 1/2 months in Europe with another parter of his, another partner of hers, and their 2 yr old son. It’s a big deal for me that they left because they’ve been an enormous part of my life here. And so, in the spirit of “embracing the energy of transition” (as I’ve been telling people here), I marked off 4 days of no work and gutted my room. I went through every scrap of paper, every dust-covered candleholder, every worn-once T-shirt, and piled about half of my things into a box for “Grabs”, which I took up to our dining hall and left out for other people to root through. Most of it was gone in a few days. I ripped up 4 whole books of checks from an account I closed out when I moved here, and threw away the spare key to the car I sold. I moved the things of mine that I was keeping into the Science Fiction Library (the section of the community’s library that resides in my building), and completely rearranged everything. I moved out a crappy shelving unit made from old hammock parts, and put it in the Storage Barn for some brave and creative soul to put to good use later on down the road. My space is totally transformed, and I feel like that allows me the inner space to make other transitions, too.

And today I gathered a group of 7 of my friends for what I called a “Reflection”, a time for them to share with me how they experience me, who they see me to be. Last week I gave out a list of questions I was interested in, just to prime the pump. Here’s the list:

How do you see me manipulating other people?
In what circumstances do you see me shine?
What do I do that annoys you?
How do you see me getting in my own way?
In what circumstances do you see me acting from a place of fear? What do I do, specifically?
What do you respect about me?
How would you describe me to someone who didn’t know me?
How have I best supported you?
How have I been unhelpful to you?
What are some things that make me unique?
What are your worries about me?
What are some specific memories that you have of me, images that stand out in your mind?
What pieces of yourself do you see reflected in me?

It was intense! We had about 2 hours, and it started off slow and sweet, but after a short while my friends really keyed in on a specific piece of how I express myself and really laid out how it affects them. Each person spoke about it in different ways, but it boiled down to the same issue: the difference between my private persona and my public persona. It’s easy for me to get effusive and exuberant and steamroll over other people with my “bigness” (as one person called it). In some situations, like directing a show or teaching a class, people really appreciated it in me. But they said in other circumstances it just blocks any authentic connection. I see that it’s one of my ways of staying in control, blocking intimacy by doing a lot of output with little recognition of input. In public, primarily. One-on-one with people, it’s easier for me to be more vulnerable and open.

I’ve recognized and struggled with this “actress” aspect of myself for many years, and this afternoon’s reflection with my friends reminded me of how much this affects other people, and my connections with them.

And then I went into town for the graduation ceremony for the alternative high school where I teach sometimes (the class: “Revolution”). After the ceremony, I went out on the Downtown Mall and sat down in a coffeeshop with my journal, reflecting about how easy it is to be the “actress” in the city. No one knows me, so no one knows the difference between my public persona and my private persona. I can be whoever the fuck I feel like being in the moment, without any challenge to inconsistency. I don’t have any responsibility to the people I meet, and I certainly feel the allure of that. And yet, that’s not my image of the world I want to live in. It’s one of the reasons why I moved to the commune: constant reminders of my responsibility to other people, based on our inherent interconnectedness.