Last week my BBFs and I took our girls to see Pink and her “The Truth About Love” tour.
To be honest, before I went I wasn’t a huge fan. My kids and I are in a constant battle over the radio dial — I like my rock loud and hard, and they are pop all the way, so I tend to tune out when they flip on their silly music. Ditto on their end — when I pull up at school blaring KROQ, I meet with angry groans about how embarrassing I am.
This from people who think Nicki Minaj is a genius and Britney can hold a note without Auto-Tune.
Still, Pink had a way of creeping through. She’s had my feminist mommy stamp of approval since “Stupid Girls” and “F**kin’ Perfect.” Thanks to my obsession with tabloids, I knew she has a motocross husband, whom she’d ditched once, and then reconciled with after hammering out their issues in therapy. I like a lady who isn’t afraid to work shit out. Plus I’d seen her stunning acrobatic performance on the Grammys a couple years ago, and I was wondering if childbirth had changed anything.
Lord knows two episiotomies later, I’m keeping my mid-air splits to a minimum.
Lucky for all of us, Pink is no wuss, and the show was incredible. That chick has unbelievable pipes that didn’t falter for a second as she flew through the air, twirled, danced, stomped, and ran full-speed for two solid hours.
What fueled her was totally obvious: pure, unadulterated joy.
Kahlil Gibran says, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked,” and Pink testifies. Her music is full of pain and suffering, which she channels into fully exuberant expressions of emotion. She understands the sting of peer pressure, failures of love and family, bad decisions, and being misunderstood. Or Missundaztood, depending on how you look at it.
Not just in childhood, or only as a tween or a teen. These feelings have a way of persisting well into adulthood, don’t they?
I believe that there are no coincidences, so it made perfect sense that Pink was the grand finale to a tough-ass week where I stepped out of my normal routine to chaperone my daughter’s 6th grade class trip to the Marine Institute on Catalina Island.
The chaperone stipulation was whatever the kids were asked to do, the parents must do as well. And so I climbed a rock wall, hiked, and studied marine life.
Up close and personal. As in the frigid waters of the Pacific, in a wet suit that only a sadomasochist would deem comfortable.
Here’s the rub: I’m terrified of the ocean.
Ironically, as a child, I dreamed obsessively of becoming a mermaid, and collected shells so avidly that my Bat Mitzvah invitations actually included real scallop shells as accents. Traif aside, it was my passion.
As a young adult, I ran the waterfront at camp and taught countless kids how to swim.
Somewhere along the way, though, I’ve developed an irrational fear of the sea. In the blazing hot summer, I will only wade in to my knees. It’s not that I’m so worried about stepping on a stingray or being eaten by a shark, though.
My fear stems from that out-of-control feeling comes when you’re knocked on your ass by an unexpectedly strong wave. Being so disoriented that it’s impossible to tell which end is up completely freaks me out, as keeping my shit together means having my head above water at all times. Being cold and uncomfortable also adds to the anxiety that I won’t be able to function easily or fluidly. The thought of all in combination makes me panic.
It’s not just me, my bitches, that seek to stay in the comfort zone. I’m just a proliferation of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” generation.
So back to the 50 Shades of (My Lips Are Turning) Blue wetsuit and two days facing my fear, dragging kids along on boogie boards, through the kelp forest, to the edges of the bay, and back. Shockingly enough, I did just fine. And it worked because I pushed my anxiety aside and forced myself to think about nothing else BUT how beautiful the ocean was. How exciting it was to see the stunning orange Garibaldi fish, stroke a slug-like sea hare, and even to give a slimy sea cucumber a big, phat, kiss for seven years of good luck. (Or a mouth full of goo, apparently one and the same.)
And afterward, I realized the experience wasn’t scary at all. In fact, it was the opposite: it was sheer joy.
This shake-up in my normal schedule made me realize how married to my routine I am. How devoted to spinning the gerbil wheel of duty, honor, and responsibility I’ve become. And how I’ve allowed peer pressure and the status quo to dictate not just what I do, but what my children do, too.
Are we just supposed to be a like a school of fish, obediently following the leader into the mouth of a bigger fish?
Out there, away from the daily grind, I was reminded that the only way to break free from the pack is to swim against the current. Like Pink, this is something I’ve done throughout my life. But not really since becoming a parent.
It just took sticking a toe in the water and watching Pink dive in deep to catch a glimpse of what she means by the truth about love. It’s messy, it’s complicated, and it begins with yourself, my bitches.
Because when everyone else swims away, you’re left alone in an ocean of your own creation.
Sink in fear, float in joy — you decide.
And while you’re face down in the drink of making decisions that are disorienting and uncomfortable — just remember, that’s the definition of f**kin’ perfect… to me.
Now, if you’ve never seen Pink do the amazing things she does, check out her 2010 Grammy performance of “Glitter in the Air” —