I want to tell you about a dream I had in which I was an artist having an art opening in Buenos Aires. Oh wait... that actually happened. In my mind, however, as I look back and reflect, the memory of that night feels a lot more like a dream than reality. This dream begins with that unmistakable experience of being naked in a crowded room, fearfully awaiting the moment when everyone around you recognizes your shameful situation. The emotion of this particular imagery is completely unique. A strange mixture of vulnerability, terror, embarrassment, shame, inevitability, insecurity, total exposure. Every time I have an art opening I live this dream.
This time is supposed to be different. The day before I feel accomplished, at peace with the work. Nothing to add, no loose ends to tie up. The day of the opening I wake up with the intention of spending the day relaxing and celebrating myself, my work. And that's how it begins. But as the evening approaches, I find myself a terrified wreck, curled up in my room crying, feeling sorry for myself, alone and abandoned. I am certain of my utter failure. Then it is finally time, people are arriving, going through the gallery, reading the text, looking at the paintings. Then they are going upstairs and sitting down to watch the videos. My panic escalates and I find myself wishing the earth would open up and swallow me, or I want to at least find some hole to crawl into. This is that dream - I am naked and at any moment the people around me will realize this.
In this storm of panic, doubt, and self loathing, there is a sudden ray of light that pierces through the clouds. This ray of light comes in the form of a friend of mine who shows up with containers of food, a bottle of champagne, and a big hug. And suddenly I am back in my body, back on the ground. I realize that I am generating the judgement that I so fear and the validation and acceptance that I seek. I realize I am now in another dream, one of those lucid dreams where you realize that you are the author of your experience. The biggest challenge with this kind of dream is to actually follow through with accepting what it is I am wanting to create. The nagging doubt, the slight disbelief, that quiet ridiculing voice stand in the way of fully having, fully being present, fully receiving. As I shift my focus it dawns on me that I am exactly where I was hoping, planning, anticipating to be - surrounded by friends. New friends whom I have met in the past 6 months, friends who have shared this journey with me, who have listened to me grapple with my ideas and fears, friends who shared insights and contributed feedback about my work, friends who have embraced me warmly on the dance floor and without knowing it, soothed me in my darkest moments. The storm passes, the clouds clear, and everything is illuminated by my own acceptance of what I have been wanting. The evening flows, I find myself discussing my work, answering questions that I hoped people would be asking, accepting comments I was hoping to hear. And suddenly I find myself on the floor in a pile of beautiful people, laughing and cheering, infinitely grateful for the infinite complexity and beauty of this journey.