Today I watched a documentary on a puppeteer on Sesame Street, Kevin Clash, “Being Elmo”. He felt so shy and sensitive growing up and didn’t know how to express that, so used puppets to be the vehicle. His parents were completely supportive of him making puppets and putting on shows for other children – but what I was contemplating while watching it was – Why do we hide behind a character or a created role?
Kevin is amazing and totally loves being the Executive Producer of Sesame Street and teaching children, being Elmo and working in his field – but his private life is not how he expected – spending more time as Elmo than being a husband and father had an impact and he’s divorced and his daughter had to write to him to remind him that she was going to college soon and would like to spend some time with him.
There is a truth to how Kevin expresses when he’s Elmo – a gorgeous, super gentle, loving quality/essence/expression that loves hugs and kisses and is tender with everyone, no matter what the colour of their skin, whether they are sick or healthy, young or old. And, in truth, every single one of us has those true qualities equally.
The reflection for me as I watched it was how I have spent many years not knowing how to express my essence with others and hiding behind a role or character I have developed to manage my life.
Working in film/television/advertising for 26 years has developed the ‘role’ into a career, which I love and always have (the career, not the ‘role’!). I just haven’t known that it could be possible to express and be in my essence within that. I used to say, “it’s who I am” – now that doesn’t fit anymore with the new person I see in the mirror. The old ‘role’ isn’t able to express my new awareness of the impact I have with everyone I meet.
The ‘role’ was developed over the years and was usually different with people at work, with friends and with family. I was exhausted, frustrated and felt that people didn’t understand me. Truth was that I didn’t understand myself and had no gauge of myself. All I had been shown was that you needed to get on with your career and be successful. But all the time I felt like a fraud. Like I was in a reality television show!! Always performing, on edge and a ‘forced’ persona that wanted everyone to like me. Being rejected was my worst fear.
We play a game of what we are NOT – we put out something we can’t sustain. There’s no where for me to hide anymore.
The groovy reflection of Elmo for me is the quality of expression of love we all have equally and when we allow that love to simply unfold and be super gentle and loving with others and ourselves, a new acceptance begins to break the hardness and protection I have put up as a barrier to keep myself from not being rejected. It’s been my choice to keep people away and stay in separation. Ouch.
Time to take off the puppeteers strings and express uninhibited by patterns and expectations I’ve put on myself in the past.
In slowly developing my connection with my essence, and letting people in, I have been exploring how I can simply be me and nurture the expression of my connection every day while still working in my field. There are times when I am simply me and there’s a panic that creeps in – can it be this easy?
I’m so much more than that panic and self-doubt and will have a crack at that barrier with a big smoochy Elmo hug (no strings attached!) for myself and know that when I re-connect to the love that I am I will always be there for myself and know the true essence of me.