Monthly Archives: September 2015

Missing Peace

The Naked Truth
September 11, 2015

UpStage, Charlotte, NC

Aftermath

The pictures of most of the words are below. I’ve been struggling with what to say for weeks. Here it is, in all its muddled, ragged glory. On my body, the words literally burned. (This due to toxic reaction from marker ink, nothing woo) In my head … I hear these word yelled:

SLUT! WHORE! GARBAGE! WORTHLESS! COWARD! FAILURE!

These words, these feelings didn’t grow on their own. Someone placed them in someone else’s head. Two things go through my mind:
I hurt for the people who wrote on me. I became the coward, the slut … I felt shamed and humiliated. To carry such burdens daily and have them feed on you … well, honestly, I know that feel.

I hurt for the people who said these things in the first place. What must go through someone’s mind and soul that would cause them to plant such bitter fruit? What had they suffered through that led them to try and slough off some of it to someone new?

I stood like a Shaman and took on the burdens of my tribe. Backstage I had them photographed and read to me. Hateful words. Pointed words. Meaningless words. Meaningless words that have the potential to kill or lay ruin.

Women I love wrote whore and slut. Friends that I love wrote such words as DEBT, COWARD and Damaged. My son wrote MORON, and I knew where he heard it. Callous, unthinking gardeners sowing seeds of shame and hatred. It hurts and those written words have continued to weigh on me and hurt.

My friends, please stop. Stop cutting into your fellow travelers. Stop training them to dislike themselves. Stop judging, especially in your very limited experience. Heal, instead.

There was a kind, loving woman who met with me after. Her family told her growing up that she was inferior and not very smart because she was female. She would never, ever be equal to a man in task because: Women are stupid. Women are inferior. Her male relatives made bets about when she would become a teen mom.
Heinous, disgusting … but they themselves need care and understanding.

I wept. I watched the words fade daily and I wept, because these hurts were going back to their owners. Someone asked how I dealt with carrying these wounds. The answer is: I just did it. I surrounded myself with friends who love me and I poured myself out to them. I had a fall, a big one. They were there to make sure I could stand up again. I prayed. Not to a god, per se, but …

You know? Let me insert this right here. Believe how you want to believe. If religion is your drug of choice and it gets you through this insane, painful, beautiful world … I’m not going to shame you or disparage your choice. It’s right for you, and that’s perfect. BUT: if your religion prompts you to hate, hurt or demean another human being? You’re just plain wrong. Be the light. Be the love. Man … I’m dizzy up on this soapbox. Let me step down and wrap this up.

I can’t write any more right now. The pain is too great and my heart is breaking again. So, this (for now):

You can hurl words like spears, you can burn me and brand my pain onto my body. It’s still not me, this pain.

… or you could love.

Brace yourself. And please … let me hear your thoughts. Comment or email me (info@chrishannibal.com)
I really need to hear from you.

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I’ve Got a Blank Space

The Naked Truth
September 11, 2015
UpStage, Charlotte. NC

Part three

The Naked Truth
I stood in my bare feet, facing the crowd. They were with me, and behind my message. I placed a handful of colored markers and a couple of bar towels on the table. Here’s what I told them:

“All of us are carrying baggage. Some of it is light and some … are crushingly heavy. We have problems with our self image. Sometime, somewhere in our past, someone gave us a burden. Maybe we were made to feel stupid, or less than acceptable. For me, specifically, it’s two things: My body image and crowds. I’ve been made to feel self conscious of my size for years. And as for crowds, I can’t stand to be in the midst of a group. I can entertain thousands from a stage, I can have a great time with four or five friends in a group. More than that? I get anxious, edgy. I get quiet and remove myself. I always feel like the fifth wheel or the dumbest person in the room. Tonight I’m going to embrace both of those burdens for you. I’m going to remove my clothes and invite you all to come close.

But there’s more: I want you to think of your own burden, reduce it to one word or phrase. One word that sums up your fear, your frustration, your self deprecation. Choose a marker and write that word on my skin. Dry me with a towel first, if you need to. Write the word and agree to leave that burden with me for a short time. Don’t take it back with you. Let me carry it for a day or two. I can’t take it forever, but I can bear it for a few days.”

I played “Neverland” by Marillion during the final part.

I stripped down. Nervous and shaking. I could barely breathe. I was suddenly cold and embarrassed. The crowd … all stood and moved at once forward onto the stage. They took their pens and wrote on me. All over me. Moving my limbs and turning me slightly to reach. The audience, the bartenders, the servers … all joined in. Someone was in my face, writing on my forehead. They used the towels. They wrote. They cried, a few of them.

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It took roughly ten minutes. After about four, I had to close my eyes, because I was beginning to feel panic. I could still feel the hands on me, I could feel the claustrophobic press of the people. I felt the shame in my nudity. I was acutely aware of my flab and girth and … and more importantly I could feel them writing. I could feel, literally feel my body growing heavier as they unloaded their shames and pains onto me. So I stood. I didn’t run off the stage. The last author was my own son. He took a marker, put an x on my right nipple and wrote a word I couldn’t see on my belly.

I stood as everyone left the stage. I stood as they started clapping. I stood (dizzy) on my feet and absorbed the weights. I reached out for River and sky and we took our curtain call.  That was the end of the show, but there’s lots more that happened that night and in the days following. The story continues soon. Writing about how this makes me feel is far harder than I thought. I’m going to wrap it up in the next chapter, which I’m starting immediately. Please … I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment, positive or otherwise. Let me know what you’re thinking or feeling right now.

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intermission

*a note to myself (and anyone listening) about emotional instability, seeking professional help and the unequaled gift of loving friends.

Progress isn’t a race to the mountain top, so give yourself permission to go as slowly as you need to.

You’re doing the best you can — which is pretty damn amazing. You’re doing great, I promise.”

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The Liar … Lies.

The Naked Truth
September 11, 2015
UpStage, Charlotte. NC

Part two.

The Magic Show.
I took the stage and performed “LIAR!”. I wrote this show from my memories and my stories. Now, let’s be clear: I didn’t do it alone. I had an incredible group of creative friends, magicians and artists who contributed ideas, technical instruction and encouragement that made the show happen.

I can’t really describe my feelings in great detail, because I was intensely focused. “LIAR!” is nostalgia, time travel and whimsy. The audience … was reserved on this night. Not sending my energy back to me, but holding on to it, soaking it in. While I knew they were with me and enjoying my offering, I found myself working twice as hard to sustain my energy and power. I don’t in any way blame them; who knows how their day was up to that point? What burdens were they carrying? So I worked and sweat and gave my very best. The reviews were enthusiastic, but I left the stage feeling drained and empty.I felt like calling the final part off.IMG_9591 IMG_9592 IMG_9644

But sitting back there, slowly taking off my shoes and socks, I got a feeling. What I’m doing is MAYBE important. And maybe is enough. I have to do it.
Aside: No matter how much you love what you do, no matter the sheer joy you receive, there are moments when it just seems impossible to move forward. You get tired. Tired of your own voice, tired of the script, tired of very act of standing up to take the stage. But you make yourself. You stand up and continue on your path and you rely on friends or prayer or whatever it takes to continue on this path because: MAYBE it’s important and MAYBE someone needs me tonight.

And maybe is enough. So I slipped back onto the stage and I engaged the audience.

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River and sky

The Naked Truth
September 11, 2015
UpStage, Charlotte. NC

Part one.

River Nuri opened the show, which is to say she was the first performer. From my point of view the show begins shortly before the audience enters the venue. The building, the stairwell … even getting ready and driving over are part of the whole experience, so I tease them via social media. I post backstage pictures and short stories.

Anyway … River, cradling her viola, took the stage shortly after 10 PM. She chose ‘The Butterfly Slip Jig’ and she owned the audience from the first note. She plays with intensity, concentration and grace. She followed up with ‘Child’s Grove’ and finally ‘The Swallowtail Jig’. There’s a nostalgic feeling (to me, at least) in her art. I was raised with families playing instruments or singing or just tapping their feet and smiling in between the notes. Interspersed with the songs, she recited verses of her poem “I Speak in Two Languages”: a soul-fused narrative of the voices from her head and heart. Simply lovely. She radiates. Even backstage, where she loaned me the use of a hedgehog (shout-out to Rupert!) to ease my anxiety and worry.

Megan sky followed up with a stirring narrative. In spoken word, bordering on poetry, she relived the pain and hurt of one particular story from her teaching years. It was bleak, and cold and dark. She balanced this by relating her feelings for River and a special bond they shared that River was unaware of. To quote:
I’m sorry I haven’t told you this before, River, but it’s true – every weekend day, with his accusations still ringing in my mind and bruises on my arms, I would walk up the hill and see my friend the fiddler, and every time she saw me, no matter what time, no matter what else was going on, she would smile for me and play me Swallow Tail Jig. God, I love that tune. You have seen me, River, on some of the darkest days of my life. And you have shone the sun on me when I needed it most, with your music and your gentle friendship.
I’ll never lose that tune. It is a memory and a feeling I can recall no matter what, at the drop of a hat, embedded so deep into me that it’s a part of who I am.”

Dark heaviness and silver memories. Love and art and music and .. joy.

These amazing women, these incredible artists opened my show. They seeded joy and anticipation and shone bright lights on their hearts for us.

And the Magician is grateful for people like this in his life.

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#thenakedtruth

“Bakers gonna bake, bake, bake …”

Not everyone is going to like your art. Honestly, not everyone is going to like the really cool shoes you just adore …

So I’ve been getting some emails and texts and such from (well meaning?) people who want to discourage me from doing tonight’s finale’. Most of the reasons hover around ‘you’re just doing this for attention’. Now, this is a fair point and it is the truth. I am doing this for attention. I want your attention and I’m going to try to earn it during the first two thirds of the night.Once I have it, I want to give you my opinion. Then, I want you to take your pains or fears or whatever and write it on me. Symbolically GIVE IT UP for a little while. Be happy and unashamed. Be restful and relaxed. Realize how beautiful you really are.

That’s the idea. The entire agenda. And I’m going to do it again and again as long as I feel it helps even one person: It’s on.

Earlier today I got a text from a long time friend.It was the harshest plea of all. Unedited: “I don’t approve or appreciate the act you’re doing tonight. It’s all for attention and you’re being a pig. A whore about it. Nobody wants to see your flabby, pasty body. They are there because it’s a fucking freak show.”

It stings and my mind tells me there’s a lot of truth there, between the words. And if you are genuinely coming for the ‘freak show’? Come on ahead, there’s plenty of room for everyone. The point is: I dislike my body. Society dislikes my body. I’m fat. Big and fat. I get very uncomfortable in groups of people. Stand up in front of them and act, speak or do card tricks? Oh, yeah.Here I am. But … socialize? Hang inside of a group? I get very anxious.
So I’m embracing both of those fears head on and inviting others to cast theirs off.

That’s what I’m doing. Make up your own mind about how that makes you feel and SHARE it with me. Public or private. I won’t ‘out’ you for whatever your view is. I love you, and I want your unedited feelings. If you feel moved to write your insult on me: COOL. Do it. Get the bad feeling OUT and let me carry it away.

I do this out of love and hope. THAT is the naked truth.C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_tumblr_ns7hgkuD5z1sk87juo1_400

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To be h.onest

I’m going to perform a magic show tomorrow night.
Then I’m going to do something much tougher. It’s far more than the basic act, this. To me it carries much meaning and weight, and perhaps I’ve already talked about it too much.
When I leave the stage most nights, I’m empty of myself. I pour it out and sow good seed. I exit on the love and joy I’ve (hopefully) inspired.
Not this time. No, this time I’m taking your burdens and walls and carrying them off of you, if you let me.
Let me bear it, please.
I know what I’m in for, this time, and I’m scared.
To be honest.

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