On rippling water and speaking up

Cowles CommonsFountains are a good place to think, I learned last night while tracing ripples in the water with my toe, errant droplets leaping up to catch the hem of my dress. In that moment, I realized several things: Half-marathon training is fine and cool until you see your tan lines, and it’s often in moments of meandering solitude that I find the capacity to share with others.

I’ve been thinking sharing recently, inspired perhaps by my childhood of matching dresses for every holiday. There’s a photo of my mother, my two younger sisters and me in matching, hand-sewn mitten-themed jumpers, complete with turtlenecks, of course. Even then, sharing was a physical, tangible experience, one that left me glowing (ha) in a mud-brown, blindingly patterned mitten dress.

Today I continue to cling to the physical, tangible experience of sharing. I feel comfortable typing or writing my thoughts on the page, but I often feel trapped, paralyzed at the thought of expressing them out loud, to anyone.

There is something concrete, permanent, tangible, about words on the page. In their existence I confirm my existence. Maybe, I think, if I physically write them, they’ll solidify, fossilize (I like dinosaurs). They’ll outlive me and more importantly, my attempts at verbally expressing emotion, attempts I find clumsy, inarticulate, never good enough; forever punctuated by the problem of being too quiet when I should speak up and too loud when I should shut up.

Ripples in the fountain ultimately vanish, but they exist beautifully, unapologetically in the moment. I think I’ll try to be more like them from time to time.

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