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    My Way

           I don’t do karaoke very often. Even less frequent is my appearance as guest lead singer for a band. When I do either, however, I usually sing the song “My Way”.
           It brings the house down.
           Not because I have a good voice. But because when I sing “My Way”, I do it “my way”. In front of an audience of strangers, I show up for life as myself, just the way I want to. I completely embrace the song’s message by bringing all of myself to it. I quite literally talk the talk and walk the walk.
            Here’s a smidgen of what that looks like.
            My voice is powerful and dynamic, but untrained and sometimes flat. I can’t hit all the notes, no matter what key they put the song in.
            I sing it anyway.
            I use the fact that I miss notes to my advantage by lampooning myself while it’s happening. And I’ll editorialize the lyrics too, adding quick comments or short quips here and there.
            Using lots of over-dramatic movements and poses, I breath my own life into the already poignant, prophetic words. Remember when Elvis would go down on one knee, raise a clenched fist to the sky, and hold it for effect? That’s one of my favorite moves.
            I make lots of what Eddie Murphy calls “fuck faces”: very expressive, exaggerated, evocative, facial contortions.
            By bringing as much of “Clint” into the performance as possible, I connect to the song’s vision. I engage in what I call "precise reckless abandonment". That is, throwing myself completely into the moment, with precious little regard for pretense or outcome, and by doing that, simultaneously communicating a message and making a connection with others. It’s what happens when musicians are in their zone. Actually, it’s usually what happens when anybody is in their zone. It’s a beautiful place to be. It’s where I want to live most of my life.
            Which brings me to a particular passage in “My Way”:

            For what is a man? What has he got?
            If not himself, then he has not
            To say the things he truly feels
            And not the words of one who kneels

            Saying what I truly feel is the essence of MuscleHeart. For many years, just knowing what I felt was a struggle, because I had constructed so many road blocks to my own heart. Getting to what I truly feel is still sometimes a challenge. But now I’m aware that it’s because somewhere inside of me, I’m judging and criticizing what I’m feeling.
           Connecting to my own heart has been the most painful process of my adult life. It’s also been the most absolutely wondrous.
            Part of this connection to my heart is owning the fact that I love a woman who doesn’t love me. This is, without question, the hardest truth I have ever had to accept. It is the nightmare that I’ve avoided since I was a teenager. But I know that whatever pain I’m in carries with it the lessons that I most need to learn. I hate that reality, but I know it’s the truth. Fuck.
            If I examine the aforementioned phrase from “My Way”, it occurs to me that some may interpret my admission of unrequited love as “the words of one who kneels”. To them, this admission is a sign of weakness. I used to believe the same thing. Sometimes, I still do.
            But I more often embrace the idea that, if it’s how I truly feel, no matter what that is, then to own it takes strength. To own it takes courage. And to express it takes even more.
            Because owning how I feel, and letting others know that, through words and actions, is very risky. When I expose my feelings like that, I risk much. I risk rejection. I risk acceptance. I risk shame, and the possible withdrawal of love. When I risk expressing how I feel, I risk my most precious gift: myself. Because who I am is intrinsically bound to how I feel.
            “The words of one who kneels”, therefore, are not the deep, sometimes painful truths that I own and express. “The words of one who kneels” are the lies I tell myself. They are the words of denial. Of how I feel. And therefore, of who I am.
            “To say the things I truly feel” is how I stay connected to my heart. As long as I do that, I have the unique gift of self. That I can give to everyone I love. That I can give to one special woman. That I can give to the rest of humankind.

    ©2008 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and my way of Wrongs) Reserved

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    Reader Comments (2)

    The words of one who kneels also strikes me as a man who bows to pressure to conform to bow down before a more powerful figure. So I see a man who won't be forced to bow down to anyone's expectations or societal pressure as to what is NORMALLY expected of a man in a society of robots.

    November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEr-EEEEE-Kaaaaaa

    Right on Erika. Striving to be your own person means blazing a trail and disregarding societal norms and expectations. I've done that my whole life, as I know you have, but now I'm taking my trail blazing to a whole new level. Thanx for your support.

    November 30, 2008 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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