On my Instagram profile you’ll find, “No elephants in the room.” Am I the only one that is feeling this sense of urgency about what is and isn’t being said?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been having such a hard time with all the pretty pictures on my feed. I know you know the ones I mean. Elegant living rooms. Pristine food images. Flowers in a vase.
The morning after the invasion of Kabul I scrolled with great anticipation to seek all the profound messages I was certain would be populating my screen. I needed to talk about it. We all needed to talk about it. Instead…
Pink Dahlias. Remodeled kitchens. Cottages on the green.
Oh sure, there were the political pundits doing what they do. But the cultural voices—the artists, the bakers, the travelers, the makers—were simply going about their days.
In frustration I tweeted, “While you hesitate out of fear that you may lose your ‘audience’ remember those anticipating their execution in Afghanistan because they were willing to lay it all on the line.”
In defense of those who remain silent, we are all many things—typically not all at once, and definitely not everything with everyone.
It’s true that discretion is absolutely key…
But so is timing.
“A time to remain silent and a time to speak.” I can’t count the number of times these ancient wise words have edged their way into my daily routine. I understand and honor the wisdom of avoiding the fray. But avoiding the conversation entirely is becoming less and less of an option when everything we are…and love… is at stake.
…When everything we love is at stake. The elephants aren’t roaming some distant tundra but have made an encampment right there in our living rooms. The world is giving us more and more NOT to talk about and we are complying with an insidious censorship of our own design. Is it that the hard things are becoming harder or is our hearts that are more crystalized?
instead of integrating who we are—lover, artist, warrior, believer—we have sorted our lives into little [Instagram] boxes that feel an awful lot like tombs. When did we become dead to the notion that there is so much more to share than an appreciation of pretty things?
I will draw your attention now to the image and all that hair on my head. Many of you knew me then. So many new faces only know the pixie-haired woman who is writing with great humility now.
In between the long and short of it was something that can only be described as utterly bald.
Soon after my diagnosis I sourced an exquisite natural-hair wig. That wig was so close to my own hair that even Ron would walk into the room when I was getting ready to go somewhere and forget…but I never did.
And so, I talked about my bald, showed you my bald, allowed perfect strangers into the space of my bald. I knew in my gut that the stripped-down version of me would somehow give all of us permission to be more of who we are. Vulnerability in the heat of the moment tears down every wall—
It allows grief to take its place of honor rather than coaxing it to turn into an angry, charging beast.
There is no room for elephants when the room is stuffed with empathy, compassion, and love. Turning away is not edifying but indifference. And indifference [even feigned] is the killer of the soul.
Perhaps it is that the room has become so packed with strangers that it’s impossible to deeply connect. But if our lives are to matter more than pink dahlias, we had best figure out how.
Isn’t it possible that what we are avoiding in our lives and in the world can actually set us free? Isn’t the release from what binds us more beautiful than anything seen?
I am mindful that if I am going to enter the conversation, I have a solemn obligation to know what the conversation really is. And then, to enter in with compassion, armed with a tiny hope that what I offer can bring change.
FACING ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM ~Avoid a herd of angry elephants ~Realize the elephant is closer than you think ~Check your motives ~Be mindful that not everyone in the room is aware of the elephant ~Realize it may not be your place to “out the elephant” ~Have the courage to “out the elephant” if it is standing in the way of relationship, progress, communication, truth ~Be willing to take the risk of being misunderstood ~Invite other points of view ~Care more about problem solving that preservation of organization, brand, self ~Use words that elevate rather than alienate ~Mine the common ground ~Practice saying what you mean. Practice on your husband [my poor husband] ~Never lash out in anger ~Speak life ~Bring solutions ASK YOURSELF ~Why am I comfortable with elephants in the room? ~Are there elephants I am avoiding in my home, friendships, work environment? ~What elephants are keeping me from authentic relationship with someone I love? ~What wonderful thing could happen if I “outed the elephants?” ~How could my life change for the better if I refuse to avoid? ~How would the world change for the better if I refuse to avoid?
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.