self-expressionThe legend of Pandora’s Box, deeply rooted in Greek mythology, carries with it severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences for those who dare to open it. Me? I had a different experience altogether when I cracked open that ill-fated cauldron. Was it detrimental? No. Was it far-reaching? I can only hope. Time will tell.

My weekday hours lapse in front of a computer monitor, eyes blurring through pages of computer code. Sometimes the only saving grace for my sanity is the melodic tunes that fill the air. Enter Pandora. I like surprises. I never listen to an album front to back. I always shuffle. I like not knowing what’s coming next. It turns out that preference holds true for more than just my musical offerings.

As I meticulously matchup parentheses in my code, the magic of Pandora is streaming through my headphones. Relinquished as a backdrop for my primary activity, it is typically little more than white noise to break up the monotony in the silence of my cave. Until. The music once reserved for the background is suddenly promoted to the foreground. There is no longer any focus on sans serif characters in the form of a computer program. Now, it is only the chords, percussion, and lyrics combining to reach my core with more expediency than it reaches my ears. And ever since that moment in time, Sara Bareilles’ Brave has been my anthem. Most songs catch me with their tune first. The lyrical appreciation usually comes later. This song was no exception. However, usually taking days or weeks, the lyrics captured me within seconds.

Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, honestly I wanna see you be brave. ~Sara Bareilles

I am a free spirit when my thoughts spill onto the page. I muster more courage to publish what is on my mind when I can avow it through the safety of a blog post, shielded from immediate critique, either positive or negative. For me, neither one is handled with the necessary grace. There is a sense of refuge when I am able to remain concealed behind my words.

Run across me on the street and my propensity to usher true feelings into the open is much more unlikely. This song and these words, however, have shifted the fulcrum ever so slightly. I have been given a subtle vote of encouragement to be me. I know that these little nudges ideally come from your family, your friends, those people that are closest to you in your daily life. But, it doesn’t always happen that way. And you know what, that’s alright. You take inspiration in any form it comes, from any place it originates. More often than not, it comes around full circle.

A few weekends ago, while I was off getting lost in the forest, my wife sunk two wooden 4x4s into the ground. Serving as the anchor points for our hammock that had been sitting in the garage for close to a year, she had picked up my slack and created a serene and tranquil resting spot a few short steps from the back porch. Framed by two tiki torches on either end and surrounded by the colorful blooms of our cape honeysuckle bushes, our own private oasis had been established in the comfort of our own backyard.

On a cool Florida evening with a slight chill in the air, the setting could not have been more sublime. With my wife and I seated comfortably in our Adirondack chairs, our son is gently swaying back and forth in the rope hammock. The two tiki torches flicker with life. Its flames illuminate the cape honeysuckle as the setting sun provides the magic of twilight, a transition from sunset to moonlight. Unbeknownst to me, another transition was about to transpire.

Momentarily disrupting the ambience, my son and I vacate in different directions. He heads off to his bedroom, me to mine. We return to our previous venue, musical instruments in hand. He with his Native American flute, me with my acoustic guitar. We easily slip back into the aura of bliss supplied by two female influences, Mother Nature and the handiwork of my beautiful and artistic wife.

The moment of truth arrives. Or so I thought. It just so happens that what I was really encountering was the moment of inertia. As I began to strum the chords to Brave on my guitar, the words followed from my very own vocal chords. First with slight apprehension, but soon with the freedom and conviction that the lyrics portray. We each have our own unique obstacles to surmount. This was one of mine. This was the first time that I had freely strummed my guitar and sang a tune in front of my family. Big deal, right? Well, for me it was a big deal. Probably bigger than it should have been, but I’m not too sheepish to share that it was a big step for me to take.

What followed was special, almost surreal. After my unique rendition of Brave, my son followed suit by performing a song of his own creation on the flute. Back and forth, we exchanged the spotlight in our own private concert. Native American song on flute, then my version of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. Another mesmerizing combination of flute tones courtesy of my son, followed by The Rainbow Connection on my guitar. Kermit the Frog probably performs it better on the banjo. But, in this private oasis, our connection is much stronger. Our evening’s final performance is an extended interpretation on my son’s flute which is shared by him with the same confidence I was lacking at the beginning of the evening. As his notes roll from one to the next with ease, my fingers tap on the guitar body while my wife’s do the same on the side of her chair. Providing a complimentary drum beat, the rhythm keeps our family in sync. In so many different ways.

find-yourself-artSelf expression is just that, expression of yourself. There is no right or wrong. Actually, there is a wrong. Choosing to not reveal your authentic self, that is wrong. And unfortunate. Whether you are singing a song, playing an instrument, painting on a canvas, giving a speech, writing a book, or jumping into any other creative endeavor, the most important choice is to do it in your own unique way. Express yourself.

Self-acceptance precedes effective self-expression. I leapt over a personal hurdle on this magical evening that will not soon be forgotten. But, the element that will forever be preserved in my memory is watching a young boy open up and share what is inside with courage and bravery. If that is the only thing that I help to inspire in my lifetime, it will also be one of the most meaningful to me. With a synergistic effort from husband, wife, and son, we composed our own music. Maybe out of tune to the rest of the world, but wonderfully so within our own circle.



10 thoughts on “Brave

  1. Miriam March 25, 2014 / 12:03 pm

    This post reminds me of where I’m at in my blogging. It’s hard to be brave, to do what we want to do. But the alternative is worse. You painted a lovely picture of a special event. Thank you for sharing.

    • davecenker March 25, 2014 / 2:28 pm

      Thank you Miriam, it always helps to know we are not alone in pursuit of expressing our true selves. Everyone always seems to encourage you to take the first step and it will become so much easier. From experience, I can tell you that this is very true. That’s why I labeled my experience a moment of inertia and not a moment of truth. Once we get the ball rolling, there is often no stopping us, whether it’s in composing a blog post, singing a song, or anything else that we have a strong desire to pursue. Thank you for stopping by an providing your feedback. It is very much appreciated and I wish you much momentum in following your dreams 😉

  2. ShethP March 27, 2014 / 11:19 am

    It’s funny how I was painting on a canvas today and I felt I messed up. Right now, the canvas is staring back at me painted all black to cover up the mess and allow me to start over. Maybe I wasn’t so brave, was I? Next time, I’ll either be smarter or braver. 🙂 It amazes me how you take life’s little moments and turn them into life-lessons. Thank you for sharing!

    • davecenker March 27, 2014 / 1:09 pm

      I am a recovering perfectionist, so I can certainly relate to your scenario on the canvas 😉 To be quite honest, there was one sentence that flowed off my fingertips in this post that I didn’t even realize until I went back and read it again. The statement that self-acceptance precedes effective self-expression really hit home for me. Weird, huh? I learned something from my own post, that seems to be occurring more often 😉

      When I find myself able to accept my creative endeavors for what they are, creative, I find myself with a much more settled and peaceful center. And more often than not, the end result is extremely gratifying, not always for the end “product”, but more for my willingness to adhere to the creative process and just let it flow.

      Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments and best wishes for an inspired day!

      • ShethP March 27, 2014 / 3:17 pm

        The statement you mentioned is blatantly true and so obvious but we fail to realize it.
        I guess creativity is synonymous to self-expression. You encourage creativity by expressing yourself in your own unique way and you express yourself by being creative.
        I’ll make sure to keep your ittle piece of advice in mind next time I paint. 🙂

  3. apartmentwife March 27, 2014 / 4:50 pm

    i agree with you on the importance of expressing your true self, but you probably already knew that, huh? and as for pandora – i just finished reading a book (the husband’s secret – not recommending) about how her little mischievous ways continue to cause drama in our lives. but, more importantly, love the picture you painted here of enjoying an evening of music and creation with your family 🙂

    • davecenker March 28, 2014 / 8:11 am

      Yup, I could sorta tell that you might understand the importance of expressing your true self 😉 I suppose that our childhood experiences with self-expression play a significant part in our propensity to self-express as an adult. With that in mind, I would love to be sure I send my son off on the right path 😉

  4. Marquita Herald (@marquitaherald) March 29, 2014 / 12:11 pm

    You never cease to inspire me Dave but this one really hit close to home. I used to be an artist – some might say you either are or you aren’t but I used to be and chose to walk away from it at 18 when I became disillusioned with the world at large. I was one of those artsy fartsy types that everyone said was a natural but what no one knew was I hid in my room painting and drawing to avoid things like an alcoholic parent out of control and relentless bullies at school. My mind and my art was a haven until that last year of high school when everything came to a head at home and then at school when one of my art teachers stole (though he didn’t call it that) 2 of my paintings for his personal collection. I packed boxes up with my belongings 2 months before graduation and the day after I turned 18 I move out into the big world and left everything behind, including my art supplies. For some time now I’ve felt the urge to paint again, but there’s a wall that prevents me from going there – maybe it’s fear that if I ever truly did have a talent of some kind I relinquished the right to it when I walked away. I’m getting closer though – right now there’s an art pad and pencils sitting on the corner of my desk taunting me to pick them up and start taking my own advice about redefining fear. Wish me luck …

    • davecenker April 1, 2014 / 8:48 am

      Thank you Marty for sharing such a personal and emotional story. I suspect that we all have these feelings of varying degrees beneath the surface that take courage to present to the external world. I sincerely appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your story. It helps us all to realize that we are not alone, we all go through difficult and challenging times where we question our path and direction. And as far as that pad and pencils sitting on the corner taunting you, I will help them along 😉 Go ahead, pick them up, without any expectation or obligation. Just create. You do it so very well with words on paper, I am sure the pencils would really like to create some sketches also 😉

Share your thoughts ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s