Morning Musings, Myths + Healing

When Little Girls Call Themselves "Trash" & How We Talk To Ourselves

Photo by Mike O'Shea

Photo by Mike O'Shea

One of the privileges of working in a clothing store is being able to witness women in a sometimes-vulnerable state. 

What is happening when we interact with clothing in front of strangers? There are issues of class, issues of "fitting in",  of presenting the right image, of how we perceive our bodies, of trying to delicately support one another in this context without being overly personal, without being overly impersonal. 

All of these interactions is a dance, and believe you me, if you are really trying to follow The Four Agreements, or if you are going through a shift that makes you sensitive, you will unearth a lot of information about yourself in these interactions.

The other day someone tried something on, and afterwards she said, "Maybe I'll come back when I don't look like a big fat monster." I told her, "I have days where I feel that way, too, but it's just a feeling." And I believe that. No bullshit. Maybe your weight fluctuates in a range of 20 lbs like mine has for my entire life since I turned eleven years old, but where do we learn to talk to ourselves like this? I actually asked this particular person that question. She looked at me and sort of snapped out of her automatic way of talking to herself and said, "I don't know."   

Yesterday I was searching the internet to find out how to make the words in your Instagram stories move. This youtube video came up. A girl who was about 10-14 years-old with the sweetest voice, started to explain the information I was seeking in simple terms. In the video, to show her example, she took a photo of herself. After saying "This one is ugly, let me take another one," She then says, "Say you're trying to type, I look like trash, because I do, I look like trash," and she then scribbles her face out and continues her demo using a photo with her face scribbled out to demonstrate this technology feature to the world.

This broke my heart. This little girl was putting herself out there in the world to teach people something. Inherently, she knows she has something to offer. And it actually seems like she is having fun with the video. She says it's her first tutorial at some point and says, "I hope you enjoyed this."

This amatuer tutorial  had 9,000 views and it actually was really helpful to me, and I found what I was looking for.

I was heartened and relieved to see that several of the comments were from other strangers who felt the way I did, they told her, "You're beautiful, don't ever talk about yourself like that."

This nonchalant, sweetly-spoken self abuse is something I hear everyday. I hear women vocalize their body dysmorphia all of the time. I hear older women in their sixties talk about their bodies in hurtful harmful ways. I hear myself do it all of the time. What is this? 

I have never seen a cat or a dog or a flower or a tree or a child and thought to myself, "I would like you better if....  or You're okay, but you would be beautiful if.... "

Whenever I talk to people before a reiki session, one of the most common patterns (and I am currently working on this too) is the level of judgment and harshness we have on ourselves that causes us to talk in a way to ourselves we would never speak to a friend, a sister or a stranger.

I would never look at another three year-old business and say, "You don't know what you're doing. At this point in time you should be doing three times better than you are." I would never look at another woman and say, "Why do you work so hard to exercise if you're going to eat that." I tire as I write this. Just thinking of it drains me. It makes me sad to my core to hear how we talk about ourselves as women. I know this isn't specific to any one gender, but I bear witness to women the most and every little dig is harmful. It gets stored in us like a muscle memory.

How do we address this? What do we do to stop, what I believe, is actual madness?

For me, there are three things that really help. 

1. The Breath: When I am overwhelmed, running from one task to another, and start muttering to myself, why are you being slow, what's wrong with- I just stop. I pretend to be a computer just closing all the windows. And in the blank space, I take three deep breaths. (I have written about this before, and I am ecstatic that they teach children these things in Sesame Street videos.)

2. Talking Back To It: When I am trying something on and it doesn't look like I wanted it to, or when I am cooking and I over salt something, or when I do anything I begin to judge myself harshly for, when I hear the voice saying, "Why do you look like that? or Did you seriously do this same mistake again?" If I am alone, I will actually say out loud "SHUT UP." If  am in the shop or in public, I will say it silently. This sounds silly, but what it trains you to do is to stop yourself from abusing yourself. This is a big deal. It's difficult. It requires patience and pause. It's an everyday practice for me, so be easy of yourself if you have to do this every day a few times an hour. It's okay.

3. I Ask Who It Belongs To: When I hear a voice that is derogatory and mean, whether it's directed at someone else, or directed at myself, I will ask it, "Whose is this?" I decided recently that there is no way that this belongs to me. This comes from years of trying to fit in with cool kids in middle school, trying to act like I am different "than a regular person" in my early twenties, and years and years of emotional and self-worth challenges that occur when you work in the service industry. Learning to "other" customers and to treat your fellow/sister staff members as "inside the club" is an old habit I picked up because the capitalist system we live in often made me feel "less than" because I was "serving" others. This idea is just an idea. This does not come from inside of us. I don't know any little kid who thinks about certain people having more value than others. They're guided by a compass that searches for what is most joyful to them.  And yes, they're not good at sharing sometimes, but it does not come from a place of needing status and power, and to put others down to elevate themselves. It comes from a place of knowing they deserve joy. These ideas of status and power are not not ours. So next time you hear that dark, mean entity, just be like, Sorry, you have to go somewhere else.

Most importantly, when you hear these voices, don't demonize them, and in turn, demonize a part of yourself. Speak to these shadowy energies without judgment. Because they aren't yours. They are harmless if you "decharge" their meaning.

 Do we all have darkness, anxieties, fears? I imagine so. But we don't have to hate ourselves for being complex, for being sad, for having shadows. Make space to feel the feelings and they just pass. Notice if you're holding your breath or if your muscles are contracting and give them a second to relax. What also really helps me is just crying my eyes out. I can literally feel the toxins flowing out of me when I cry. And I feel totally cleansed after letting myself be vulnerable in that way. I don't totally understand it, but I know it works and it feels so good that sometimes I just start laughing afterwards, feeling so much lighter. 

It sounds super corny, and I find that it's really hard to find ways to express the simplest truths without reiterating someone else's words, but whenever I feel really irritable and unsafe, and I'm working in the store or out in the world, I just remember, every single person out here was a child, and has a soul. And what this means is that whenever you send out a harsh word or a harsh judgment, you're just saying it to the collective, and whatever harmful intentions you put out to the collective, you're ingesting yourself.

Plus, no one know what anyone else is really thinking, so in the mental sphere, it's really you experiencing the toxicity the most. When you judge someone for "showing off" you're saying that to your inner child who wants to sing and belt out songs and wear 18 colors and doesn't even know HOW to give a f*ck. If you're saying "Why can't you move over for these other people on the subway, you have no manners." You are yelling at the part of yourself that wants to take up space, and be comfortable, that has the survival instinct to want things in a visceral way.

Yes you have to protect yourself. You can't give all of yourself away all of the time. (Kaypacha says, in order to bloom, a flower has to take in enough water and light to be something that gives back to the world.) Understand that it is not selfish to take what you need to blossom. And understand that everyone around you has the power to blossom too, if only we would give ourselves and one another, the chance, and take the first step of noticing how we treat ourselves and one another.

Morning Musings, Myths + Healing

Morning Musings: A 21 Day Project

My Wish in Elementary School

My Wish in Elementary School

Last night I attended a two -hour workshop led by Nicole Adriana Casanova. I was late. I got the time wrong. One year ago if I walked into a quiet sacred space of women I mostly didn't know sitting in a circle, I think I would have just decided to leave.

That's an old story.

I have been thinking a lot about narratives, the stories we tell ourselves individually and as a nation. I often think of this this political strategy tenet: I have read it several times regarding political PR. "If you're explaining, you're losing."

What does that mean exactly?

In politics, it means, there's a difference between "messaging" and "explaining."  I think of messaging as manipulation and explaining as education.

Why is it that our human brains differentiate these forms of information. 

It comes down to two things I suppose, The motivation of the speaker (trying to get you to do something versus trying to get you to understand something), and the motivation of the listener: emotional versus rational thinking.

The rational versus the intuitive. The scientist versus the artist. These concepts have always been presented as mutually exclusive.

Because I think about these concepts all the time, I am rather fascinated by left handedness.  Dr. Iain McGilchrist gives a beautiful TedTalk about why left-handedness and right handedness relate to our ways of thinking. He discusses the right brain (or left hand) as being the place where we understand concepts, implicit meaning that doesn't necessitate explaining. As a psychiatrist he saw that patients who had use of their left hemisphere, having their rational minds being completely functional, would look down at the arm that wasn't functioning and believe that it was someone else's, but were rather indifferent to their loss of bodily movement. Those who had their right brain (or intuitive hemisphere) intact had a more difficult time regaining motor function but were more devastated by their loss. The rational brain understood how to do things, but did not understand the value of what it was doing; the intuitive brain had a harder time taking the action steps, but understood the meaning of the situation implicitly.

His talk and his book, The Divided Brain, discuss how these two systems rely on one another equally. There is a parallel between the rise of "left brain/rational thinking coming to dominate and diminish our intuitive nature and patriarchal structures coming to dominate matriarchal societies. 

The divine feminine is receptive. It waits. It knows without explaining. It feels in the body and sees the value of pain.

The logical rational brain can help us when our intuitive side gets stuck, is wrong, is clogged, or wants to try and communicate its knowledge to another human being.

Here's the thing about a lot of the "woo woo" stuff that's getting popular right now. It's not about the esoteric having dominance over the rational and the visible. I mean, the concept of balance is a greco roman ideal. It's not about either/or. It's about mutual respect.

 

The wisdom of virgin forests and nature and the wisdom of diverse cities that house some of mankind's most precious technologies and artistic accomplishments don't compete intrinsically, unless one has no respect for the value of the other. 

Just as going to a medical doctor trained in medicine in the Western modern world can read a Deepak Chopra book without renouncing scientific theory, just as quantum physics and the idea of a spiritual world don't compete. 

All ideas break down into two concepts for me: power and narrative. These are the two structures that create our worlds. I can meditate, I can learn to undo all of the societal imprinting that tells me I could always be prettier, skinnier, richer, have more things, have a nicer home, but I also need to deal with the gravity and reality of power. 

I am fortunate, so I have a family and a life that gives me time to think about these things after work. I don't spend every second of everyday making sure I have food on the table or that my home is safe.  And when I think about who we have given power to in this country: organized religions, corporate entities and governments and laws we cannot easily understand, I see that the dominating narrative is that there is nothing we can do, or that it's us versus them, or that somehow intellectualizing everything is going to fix it. The narrative is that our survival, prosperity, and happiness is an individual disconnected idea. Energetically, this makes no sense. And physically, it makes no sense. Resources are precious, and natural and limited, and should be treated and shared as such. How can solar energy, land, airwaves, etc. belong to anyone but the collective. 

I believe we can be activists and also spiritual beings. I believe that understanding the fluidity of your personal power and how you experience reality will give you the compassion to understand someone you don't agree with. 

I am passionate about people being given true information. I believe that they can, as a whole, make good decisions for themselves, if they are given rational true ideas of the way the world works, if their fears and reptilian instincts aren't constantly being inflamed by commercials and explosive language.

When you are riled up, emotional, angry, is this when you make decisions? (I'm not demonizing emotions or anger, I'm just questioning why you would trust any friend or news source that seems to only deliver you information in a way that makes you upset. )

This has been my morning freestyle muse for today. I plan on freewheeling publicly for the next twenty days as a way to get over myself and dedicate myself to practice writing again. 

Thank you if you made this far. You are always in my heart. 

Myths + Healing

WHAT IS A SOUL ARCHITECT: WORKING WITH NICOLE ADRIANA CASANOVA

Nicole Adriana Casanova, Soul Architect, a 200 RYT Yoga Alliance certified, a certified Reiki Master in the Usui and Karuna Reiki Riojo, a Human Movement and Meditation teacher, and Magical Awakening Practitioner. 

Nicole Adriana Casanova, Soul Architect, a 200 RYT Yoga Alliance certified, a certified Reiki Master in the Usui and Karuna Reiki Riojo, a Human Movement and Meditation teacher, and Magical Awakening Practitioner. 

As many of you know, I have been doing a lot of work in the last few years to examine myself. What that means for me is taking a step back from myself and my habits, and getting enough distance to take a second before I act, even when that action is thinking silently.

I have been working in service-oriented positions and living in the same house off Graham Avenue since 2005. I am a creature of habit and I gravitate towards wherever my place of work is. This seems like a beautiful accident of luck, being able to walk to work, work with friends, and spend time in my community. And it is. But it also invites a lot of automation. Thoughtlessness. Habit without intention. 

Underlying all of this are ways I have always seen myself: I am hardworking. I dislike confrontation. Or rather it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I am “easy going.” 

These are the myths of myself I have told myself over and over and they stem from a very pure true place. I do like to go with the flow. I am happy seeing others happy. But when you reduce yourself to these traits, it is easy to slough off the responsibility of asking yourself what you want, and to run away from the privilege of going after what it is you want and immersing yourself in these wants wholeheartedly enough to find your limits, which is just another way of running away from your full potential. 

In doing this work, I have found so many amazing teachers, friends who lead by example, and gifted healers. (You’ll remember this journey began with an hour spent at my then-medium’s and now friend’s apartment in the neighborhood.) I have read countless books and taken notes and practiced, practiced, practiced, and the part of me that is Aquarian in nature is always wondering what’s next, before unpacking what’s now. (You can physically see this in my space, where I habitually accumulate before using in full, where I place things into containers to be sorted later.) 


In my most recent seasons of this fact-finding mission, I have met a wonderful powerful healer, Nicole Adriana Casanova. 

She calls to mind a passage in the Many Moons Workbook about soft power, “Soft power helps, heals, lifts others up. Soft power is non-hierarchical. She’s quiet - she does it for love, to experience the alignment with greater energies, larger messages, indescribable feelings,” says Sarah Gottesdiener. 

I met Nicole at a beautiful forgiveness workshop she co-hosted with my soulful friend Giselle of Known to Man. I hope to write about this experience in greater detail later on, but this is where I found that Nicole’s presence could enable people to be themselves in such an authentic and potent way that the experience of being surrounded by this sort of energy is at once-terrifying and elevating. It’s unfamiliar and powerful, but she gave us a soft place to land.

After four months of thinking about that experience from time to time, I was in a place of loss and struggle. When you begin to earnestly look at your life as a gift, a treasure, and a responsibility of the most sacred kind, you kick up a lot of dust and you call a yourself out a lot, you question who you are, and who you think  you are. These sort of questions are so incredibly obvious, but they take a really long time to answer, if you’re willing to answer them, to uproot the answers that feel false, and to know it’s up to you to replace them with something more true. 


These are questions like, “What does success look like to you, and who taught you that?” Maybe your father wanted your name to be known everywhere, or your mother wanted you to have the monetary security she believed would keep you safe. Maybe you learned if you were fun and well-liked, someone else would take care of you. Digging back into these notions and finding the roots, and then the seed takes a long time. And while we feel liberated at moments of joy, reconnecting with our five year-old or ten year-old self, whose love of reading or performance has been long left in the dust, we may hit moments of stuckness, or blockedness in which we need the careful and experienced guidance of someone else. 

And this is where the work of the healer comes in. It was during a moment like this that I reached out to Nicole, and she received me into her home for some one-on-one work. 

I was scared about money. I was scared I was overindulging. Nicole was kind and helped me work these logistics out, and understood that getting the time and work together was more important than figuring out the how without pressuring me in any way. 

So I showed up on a rainy day, and we began the way many healing sessions begin. She asked what was going on. What did I want to work on? 

My throat always becomes tight when I answer this question, “I want to understand my finances. I’m scared about my business. I don’t always know what I’m doing. I’m uncomfortable with my body. I don’t always say what I mean…” the words tumbled out ineloquently. It was not long before my breathing became labored and my nose began running. I became self conscious and hot.

Nicole works with many methods. In her space, there are quartz bowls, rattles, gongs, a censor she uses to burn copal resin so that it smokes around you. She fans you with a handmade smudging fan with feathers. She talks to you very clearly and carefully. She cracks a joke when you don’t expect it with only the half sliver of a smile. In this particular session, her eyes went very wide as she took the ponytail and bandana out of my hair and my bracelets off. With my eyes closed, she sang over me. She looked at me and said, “You put a lot of curses on yourself.”

This rang true for me, and the tears slid down my face. How many times did I remember my grandmother saying to me that what I was doing was hurting my mom and dad, or think about how I tricked my little sister into giving her birthday money to our art club, or see a homeless person in the street and think, “It’s not fair, I don’t deserve what I have, I don’t deserve good things. I should pay for what I did as a kid and a teenager.” How many times did I see someone in pain and run to their rescue and wish they could feel better thinking that maybe I could take it away from them, or throw myself into work because someone else needed rest, thinking that I didn’t need those things. More times than I could count.

After performing her smudging ritual and singing traditional songs, she asked me to lay down on a blanket and she did a combination of reiki and other healing techniques.

I laid there quietly thinking and then very gradually falling into a massage sleep. I lost track of time in my body and also in my mind. I dreamt things but couldn’t hold onto the the images. I drifted off to somewhere else and came back with the sound of Nicole quietly saying, “When you’re ready, deepen your breathing and move your fingers and toes and come back into the room..” 

As I quietly sat up and took a sip of my water, she asked me how I was doing. I didn’t have much to say, because I didn’t feel good or bad or really know what I felt just yet.  While I was gathering my thoughts Nicole shared some messages she had received. “I am seeing that maybe you need to wear lighter clothing in the store, and protect yourself. I get a sense a lot of people talk at you and you absorb it,” she paused. This is something I had known for some time. I love very much when people open up to me, but I don’t naturally put up boundaries. 

She continued, “I'm hearing that it would be good if you wrote about myths and mythologies on your blog, that it would be good for business.” And then she paused to laugh softly, “And I'm seeing that you’re lighting a lot of palo santo in your store to clean the energy. I feel that it would be helpful for you to know that white sage or copal is better for clearing because palo santo grounds and seals the energy.” 

She was right about these things. I had been furiously burning palo santo in the shop, praying for my irritation and negativity to clear, for the post-election retail recession to be over, for the shitty weather to stop ruining my foot traffic, praying to feel more connected to the work I had to do, the big decision making, the exchanges with customers. I was just so tired and felt like I was running in every direction to react to everything in real time, never slowing down to clarify what it is I was doing or why. 

She told me she would hold me in an integration grid for a while (if I remember correctly) because there was a lot to do, and we talked about continuing our work in the future. She told me to be gentle with myself, and as she has always advised me since, to drink a lot of water. (Other healers like Marcella Kroll point to this as the easiest way of cleansing your energy, and it certainly can’t be bad for you.)

You can read all about Nicole Adriana Casanova on her own website. Her own journey from studying yoga and finding out that when she put her hands on people they told her they felt better. That she used to lay hands on people as a child, or how many teachers and teachings she has immersed herself in. These are all beautiful informative things, but it is so difficult to explain and describe her presence in real life. This is a person who is full of joy and takes all things seriously and treats her practice with great reverence, all the while being fully able to make you comfortable with her grace and ease. This is a person who can tell you the history of Reiki while throwing in a Youtube joke. Someone who can burst into song in a group full of anxious people with such earnestness and confidence that when her voice cracks, it somehow makes the experience more powerful. She sails on to the next note. Time moves more slowly somehow, while the vibration of the whole room gets higher and higher. You felt held in her presence. 

I went on that day after our one-on-one session to complete two incredibly difficult tasks I had been frustrated with for months. I did them with ease and happiness and felt satisfied and moved. I have since then taken a Reiki 1 Attunement class with Nicole, and participated in her Light Body Twerkshop for my birthday as well as attended a Sound and Light sound bath event she co-created with Madeline from The End  Brooklyn, a cafe filled with healing plant-based creations, and Anna Toonk, a gifted intuitive tarot reader and Reiki practitioner. If you want to get in touch with yourself, or feel the radiance of someone with a soft power who can help and heal and guide you to being more in tune with your own truth and your own authenticity, if you’re ready to face your fears and call yourself out on your own bullshit, then seek the teachings of Nicole. There’s no wrong answer. There’s no wrong time. 

Nicole has generously offered our Mythsfits 10% off Soul Sessions for the month of June with code XENIA. You can book one here.
 

I Like Watching Tall Dudes Cheer on Tiny Girls: Mitski at Brooklyn Steel

Mistki, Photographed by Ebru Yildiz.

Mistki, Photographed by Ebru Yildiz.

 

I don't know if you have listened to Mitski’s records or found yourself replaying her songs so you can review a lyric, but if you haven't, you should.

I found Mitski in a vacuum of sorts. It was a match made in Spotify Weekly heaven, Mitski and me. I didn't have the opinions of friends or ideas of who her fans were or where they came from. I just knew her melodies had a pop sensibility, which is to say that they stuck in your head. They sounded like they were written in her bedroom. All of this rawness and ease was counterbalanced by another quality, the nuance of someone studied and masterful. Beneath the softness of her voice and the audible emotion, there was a technician. You could hear both equally: the garage-guided girl and the disciplined music academic. Not that those two characters are always two separate ones. Think Winona Ryder, controlled enough to channel the rawness of all the feelings.

I saw Mitski play at Brooklyn Steel on Saturday night. It was the first time I had gone to a show alone in two years that didn't involve a friend's band or Bjork.

The Bowery Presents new venue had just landed in my neighborhood. We have sleepy streets and know our landlords. People buy fresh bread from stores that make their own mozzarella. This venue being here is like having a Skyscraper in a suburb. What place does it have among Catholic churches that still have very small parades on weekdays? The fact that the second largest all-ages venue in Brooklyn was supposedly down Withers if you just kept walking was was something I had to confirm with my own eyes and ears.

I got there right as Mitski was about to go on. It was quiet, even sleepy just outside the main space’s doors when I grabbed two tall boys to and made my way in. As I stepped into the dark space, I sort of felt like Dorothy when opens the door to Oz and the other side is not only filled with a yellow brick road, but is also in color. It was like opening the door and suddenly being in Manhattan.

To my left, handsome, well-dressed guy stood about a foot over me. (Or I imagine this is what he looks like. It was dark and I didn’t make direct eye contact with anyone, because this whole scenario brought out the middle school dance-goer in me.) Opting not to go further into the crowd, I found myself about halfway to the stage. The spectacle of lights and smoke made me feel like I was dreaming. The place was filled from end-to-end with folks I had never seen before. And to my surprise I wasn't the oldest one there. (The vulnerability of Mitski's voice and lyric that had led me to imagine that everyone in there was some other age at which being emotional didn't have to be a secret.)

The drummer came out first and he wailed on his drums from a minute. The sound was crisp and clear and bizarrely resembled what comes out of my headphones despite the hum of a thousand people cheering "Go Mitski!!" at the top of their lungs. You could feel the kick drum vibrate in your heartspace without having your eardrum blown out. The tall guy on my left started to cheer fanatically. "Woohoo!... YEAHHHH WOOOOOHHH!" This surprised me; I don't know why but  when I was younger we thought it was cool to act perpetually unimpressed. But I can get down with these twenty-one year-olds.They have hope. They get excited.

Mitski came out looking very much like the goddess of so many of these young fans' dreams. She sang out her first lyric and the perfection of her pitch and the power of her belt was sort of shocking coming out of this small radio of a human.

Mitski doesn’t just sound good on a record. She’s a true vocalist. Hearing her sing live had the same effect on me that Beyonce’s did when I was sixteen and that Bjork’s has on me always. When she lets the note out, people shut up. They feel it in their tailbones. Mitski fills out the wavelengths of her notes in full. It's powerful. It's feminine. It's soft and scary and natural but also supernatural. It's surprising and mythical. And it's technically masterful.

On the record, the drum machines have the meticulous tick of being digital. Played live on the rims of a snare, they are instead snappy. The guitarist had the familiar vibe of my awesome almost-dorky best-friends from middle school. They were all the type of guys who looked shy and as if they are always concentrating, but when they is suddenly got on a stage to slay a solo, all the girls could easily project all their fantasy narratives about what kind of boyfriend he would be based on his Purchase t-shirt, glasses and which pedal he chose for which solo.

All of this is couched within the context of the crowd's epic reaction. Everywhere I turn the whole crowd knows all the lyrics. They lose their minds when I Don't Smoke or American Girl or basically any song begins. Because there is no moderate Mitski fan. Mitski is Friday Night Lights. It's My So Called Life. It's a moment of perfect vulnerability while you're discovering there's other kinds of music out there. But it's still accessible. It's still natural. Because the feeling of seeing Mitski on stage isn't academic and cerebral, no matter how astute the lyrics are. It's emotive and dramatic. It's instinctive and raw but sounds familiar because it tells the epic tale of your feelings: the discovery of heartbreak or the realization that you’re angry. It’s Puberty…. Part 2.

And towards the end of the set  when she says she'd like to do a couple of songs alone, she sings about telling her mom she is sorry because she can't always pay her rent and can she sleep on her couch. This moment isn't just about how someone who is talented enough to sell out shows in every major city in the USA and also in Europe can't make enough to keep her apartment in Brooklyn while she's on tour. The moment isn't just about Mitski. It's the story of every artistic kid who feels in their heart they might be a genius, they might be an artist, they might be a historian or a poet or a healer, and the anger and confusion of discovering they live in a world in which their creativity and vulnerability resonates with so many people, but will likely lead to couchsurfing, but will end in a place where only dreams are allowed: in the smoke-filled arena among hundreds of strangers who know all the words to the same songs.