Been thinking about balls lately.
I know that in this post-enlightened intersectional feminist era, I’m not supposed to say balls when I mean strength or bravery or fortitude. I’m supposed to say those words instead. I get it. Of course I do. And I do recognize that you have to change the language to change the culture
But I still like to say the word balls. So I’m sticking with it.
I was told recently in no uncertain terms that I am scared. That I am hiding from everyone else, from my potential and even from myself. That I have, essentially, mislaid my balls. And that I will wither away rapidly from middle-age to menopause to death without so much as a fleeting hand wave or hot flash. That I will accomplishing nothing and miss any chance or being happy or fulfilled, unless I locate my missing balls.
I admit, I’ve never been a risk taker. I don’t point a car and start driving without a plan ( or a GPS and a phone app, and printed directions in case there are tall buildings or large birds and I lose the signal.) I gage and I plan. I know what I’m doing next Thursday and I anticipate those needs and prepare accordingly. (Note to self: have red wine and clean, non-period underwear.)
This cannot be a horrible thing. Being smart and appropriate cannot be that miserable of a flaw. Because of my planning, I had backup balloons and cake when my kid’s birthday was cancelled due to an historic blizzard. Because of that, I’ve never been stranded on the highway without water and a coat and walkable shoes. And since it’s the season, I’ll be political. Because of that, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had only one very desired and anticipated pregnancy and child.
The point is, I don’t think saying no means saying you have no balls. I don’t think that changing your mind or altering course means that you are weak and callow. Sometimes, I think it means you are a sensible human being, using the brains provided by the manufacturer to not wreck the merchandise and it’s inner workings into a billion unsalvageable pieces.
Right is right and now and then, shit just makes sense. I don’t think bailing on a meaningless trip in buffeting snow indicates a lack of courage. I think it means you don’t want to mangle up your people or anyone else’s just because you were bored on a Friday night and there was a grandma desperate to buy a new guilt-allaying fuzzball from Build-A-Bear. Sometimes the voice in your head isn’t frivilous self-doubt. Sometimes, it’s rock-solid reason and it’s either lunacy or masochism that sends you looking for a different way.
Under the swan song of pseudo, self-imposed and for-its-own-sake audacity and the hubris and put-on posturing of unfuckwithableness armor, I’ve been swayed. I’ve made small decisions lately that I was not happy with long term. Why? Because I made a choice to be brave, or what I thought was brave, instead of simply being right, or what I knew was right for me. All was fine. No one was hurt. But, I didn’t feel free or empowered after those choice. I felt dumb. Because I was too busy being ballsy to be authentic.
Luckily, I found my footing on another, much bigger choice. This one wouldn’t have just affected me, it would have shaken and uprooted my family. The gift and help and clarity of this one was that because my young man was involved, I didn’t give have a shit if I was being brave. I only needed to be right. He needed me to be right. Believe me, I’ll be a coward all day long if he comes out ahead in the end. On this particular intersection, I’m glad I chose what might be perceived as weakness and safety and the road more-travelled. Because that’s what was right. Brave and strength and fear had nothing to do with it. It was right for us. At least for this moment. Maybe that’s a different way to show valor. Strategic weakness in the moment for long-range victory.
This is not to say that I do not need to gather up my balls from time to time. Because I certainly do. But, I’m pretty proud that I have done some unnerving things lately that required just that, and I came correct.
I have shown my work first, and held my breath while it was read. I have sent the text without knowing if I’d get a response. I’ve answered the call without having any idea what to say. I have stepped outside myself and felt both awful and great about it. Because having pluck is not just about plowing ahead with a plot, regardless of any information to the contrary. It’s about seeing the truth and accepting it as it lies. Not running full-speed off a cliff just because you don’t want to live life scared. That just ends in broken bones and pain.
I spoke up about something very personal today, with someone personal, and I felt like She-Ra. It took all the chutzpah I normally don’t have, and both parties wound up in a better place because of it. At least I hope so. I was honest and open but still receptive. Balls were gathered and good resulted. It was a pretty swell moment, intellectually and emotionally. I don’t always have those. And that’s a problem. But now, I know it’s a problem I can work on solving.
And I am certainly still working on the solving. I’ve not reached out to a director collaborator, a lovely person that I was supposed to touch base with weeks ago. Because I’m a giant pussy? ( Are we allowed to say that? As an empowerment/disempowerment thing? I don’t know anymore. But I’m keeping that word too.) Very possible. More simply and realistically, it’s because I’m scared that I can’t produce the on-screen goods that are needed. Balls would have been fantastic in this situation. Mine were lost.
I’ve stalled on perfecting a new audition piece for Sunday, because it’s untested and it feels rickety and and I don’t trust it. I know I should woman up ( see? I can change the language), work the piece and throw down with it. I don’t know if I’ll have the guts.
But, I know I will have the balls to sit alone in a coffee shop after the audition. Yes. Alone on Valentine’s Day? You bet your sweet ass. I have balls enough for that.
You can have both balls and brains. You can be devil-may-care spontaneous and unscripted, and still come home safely to tell the tale of it over wine. While it might make no sense to some, it sounds totally logical to me. And I’m usually one big irrational feeling, made up of thousands of tiny nimble, mercurial little feelings, so that’s saying something.
So, yay to me for keeping me and my brain and my heart on track and doing the same for the people under my watch. Not fun, or easy, or light-hearted business. But, I managed to do that without losing my balls.
Because, yes, I still got my balls. Even if I lose them sometimes. And I’m keeping them.