I cried. Last night, in Western Massachusetts, in the small town of Northampton, known for their vibrant music and equally loud art, I had the opportunity witness a man I have idolized for years perform his art on stage. In a small community whose dnizens wore more hemp than my days at a hippy college, I had the chance to be moved passionately by the hoarse voice of a poet. It hasn’t been since I stood before Hopper’s Nighthawks have I been moved to tears by art.
I won’t attempt to explain the emotion I experienced due to the words of poet. While I can not speak for the entirety of the crowd, I can say, the beloved fans who cried in his presence and thanked him for being their courage showed me words have power. He spoke of being bullied and having a difficult life and while I think any and everybody can access these sentiments, it was his perspective on feeling that struck me as the most inspiring.
“I wish I could feel as intensely as you do,” were words my ex told me after a class we took together. I do. I feel beyond a point many would call healthy, my moods rise and fall with the stimuli around me so drastically it can be overwhelming. My greatest fear has never been the loss of my mind or being crippled, but losing my ability to feel. While I sat there and listened to him weave tales about his childhood relationships and the people who have inspired him, I found somebody who not only felt as intensely as I do, but has found the words to express it.
I am still finding those words. Crafted and manufactured, I am banging away at a keyboard hoping the string of vowels and consonants until I can say, “That’s beautiful.” I’m not there. Yet.
I shook his hand and told him I was a high school teacher. I told him how I discovered him while raising an army of students to combat bullying. While he told a story about his best friend dying, he had to pause and collect himself. After formulating my exact words I had the opportunity to say, “Because of you, there is another generation of poets being told its okay to shine.” With a scratchy voice he said a simple, “Thank you so much.” The man who is inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers and beauty makers was humble enough to say thank you.
I might not be a poet, but I do believe in speaking your truth. We are connected by this invisible thread known as the human experience, and for many of us, it can be difficult to see how we’re woven into a greater tapestry. But there are moments. When sitting in an old building with a stained stage and floral beers, you find a room full of beings with who you are connected.