Awkward Silence vs. the Sound of Two Hands Clapping

My son used to have a band called Awkward Silence. But the funny thing about that band was that, as far as the rest of us in the family could tell, the band was — well — silent. Awkwardly so. In that it had no other members and no actual instruments. It was a band that existed only in the space between this creative child’s ears.

Since he’s since gone on to other creative pursuits that have tangible evidence of existence, we can still laugh at the early days and at Awkward Silence.

Today when I was reflecting on the value of collaboration, as opposed to entirely solo pursuits, Awkward Silence came to mind. And I heard the sound, or lack therof, of one hand clapping. And felt grateful to have a SPACIOUS partner in Joey, and thus to hear two hands clapping on our projects.

I was for a long time a solitary cuss who didn’t like to delegate, didn’t trust many people, and always thought I could do things better on my own. I justified that with some nonsense about not knowing who one can trust besides oneself, but really I was more afraid of getting involved with others than truly confident that I could do my projects well, or better, alone.

In the social realm, I fooled a lot of people who thought I was a friendly extrovert, when instead I was a people-pleaser who knew how to draw people to me with vulnerability and a friendly demeanor but then would just as easily push them away when I got overwhelmed, which I quickly did, since my interactions were often born of obligation.

Much has changed, and I’m grateful for healing and growth in some of those areas. I’ve come to love collaboration, to crave it, to have a certain measure of loneliness on the days when I necessarily have to follow (and stick to!)  the writer’s maxim of “ass in chair.” I love the back-and-forth interaction of co-creating something, whether SPACIOUS or a multi-course  meal on which my husband I might work together.

Joey and I spoke last week at a PechaKucha event, as part of FotoWeek DC, where presenters have 20 photographs running in a slide show, for 20 seconds each. We had, therefore, six minutes and 40 seconds to tell our story of “The Spacious Power of Unorthodox Friendships.” We had a lot of fun.

But I’d say that although unorthodox friendships have a particular generative power related to creating connections where they might not be obvious, all friendships and partnerships have the ability to take what we have, add to it, and create something far more than the sum of the parts.

And the music sounds so much better when there’s harmony. And with a real band or duo, there’s, well, less silence and less awkwardness.

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