Gauntlets

Reading about Wonder Woman today. I’m a long time fan…her story just resonates with me. So like many folks, I’m looking forward to the movie release this week. Her story is long overdue to be told on the big screen.

BTW, all the Wonder Woman images are copyright Warner Brothers, not mine. I’m just borrowing them to illustrate the story in this blog. Legal disclaimer over…onward.

Our cultural stories, pop culture or otherwise, are often deeply relate-able because they are a medium to help us process our own issues.

That being said, I found out an interesting explanation of why she wears the gauntlets. Screw deflecting bullets, that’s “play time with the silly morals” parlor tricks in comparison to the real reason.

One explanation; intensity. They downgrade her power. Put a governor on it. Because without them she is as strong as Superman. But her rage becomes equally strong and unbridled. As in, forget finding a new zip code…find a whole new planet to live on. You’ll need it. Makes sense when you are a half human, half god hybrid and your dad is Aries.

It’s funny how much deep affinity I had for that statement.

As I read this, I get this message from an old friend;

“I do remember saying on my CD we did together that “there is beauty in your restraint” because your intensity could bowl me over. However, I didn’t ask or tell you to hold back. Be who you are and you are beautiful.”

Apparently I already do try to keep my metaphorical version of the gauntlets on as best as I can. Sometimes, the gauntlets do just come off. Maybe I haven’t noticed when they have, perhaps due to the fact I’m finally feeling authentic and fully comfortable in my being. Something like Superman getting to battle it out with General Zod. In one version of this battle, Superman realizes he doesn’t have to hold back one bit, and even delights in fully using ALL of his power. Obviously, I’m not Superman in any way….but there is a metaphorical comparison there I can relate to.

The point, and the reason behind the message….in recent days, I’ve felt off…largely because my intensity lands badly with some folks…often misinterpreted or misunderstood. More importantly, it’s usually happening with people I care about. My gauntlets slipped off, again, unnoticed. I thought I was in a space where authenticity was going to be ok. It wasn’t. Not yet, and maybe not ever. That’s to be determined. Superman has his Fortress of Solitude. I’m not much different in my own way. As I get older, it’s less a choice to live the way I do, it’s become an actual need to live the way I do.

I don’t mind using intensity it to scare off the drunks or the crazy girl who starts talking my ear off at the laundromat for no reason (you know…the sketchy thin blonde who walks up out of the blue and starts talking about literally nothing of value…kinda makes you wonder what pill she popped before leaving the house knowing she would stare at washing machines and dryers for 30 minutes). Those folks…it’s a shield against the element of crazy life tries to throw in your path.

But it hurts when people you genuinely care about say they can’t handle intensity.

This is where I begin questioning if people want me to be my authentic self; especially when I start feeling my self esteem taking unintentional hits. Often they think they are trying to help me out in some way…especially with verbiage like that. I get it. Thank you. I appreicate the effort one makes to let me know where they are at. End result; the comment still makes me want to move to a cabin in the woods.

My latest go round with such feedback left me with metaphorical gauntlets strapped on so hard, I was bleeding from contact wounds from the corseting on my soul. I was miserable, and not myself. I saw concert video when I was in the state..I was barely moving, soul strapped down under heavy armour. I was screaming on the inside, I was exhausted from an extra intense work week, and I was trying to internally contain an emotional bomb that had exploded so no one around me would get hit with shrapnel. Thankfully, we didn’t have much space to move around onstage, so no one inferred much from my lack of movement. However, most who know me know that I dance with the bass while I’m playing. It’s a joyful communion.

The self esteem was still on heavy repair….until an odd request at last night’s show. The band was lighting it up last night, and the crowd loved it. And we got a request for a Zep tune.

The alpha and the omega of my musical world. Intensity, musically personified.

There was no way I was walking from this request. I started calling tunes. Two thirds of the band would know them. Zep is not a “real book” affair for anyone who doesn’t really know it. You can’t fake it. You did your homework, or not. Two thirds knowing a song won’t cut it.

I get to “Whole lotta love”. I get nods

“Great, I’ve never sung it before. Let me go see what I can cook up.”

I got looks all around like “She’s serious?”

Yeah. I don’t care anymore. I have armor I need to lose. It’s getting heavy and my soul is literally being crushed under the weight.

As I walked away to take a break, something told me I’d be fine. Despite of agreeing to this ball buster of a Zep tune for a vocalist. And I never actually sang it before. Intensity was managing the outcome for me. I let the invisible armor fall, lighten, and prepared to let my intensity “demons” off their chain.

Five minutes into our break, I was running the tune quietly under my breath. All of it. Even the break…. “Woooooman…you neeeeed loooooooovve!”

Minutes after that a crowd of men were gathered in front of my mic stand as the band charged through the tune. My vocals had no prior experience, and I was burning them up to rival Robert Plant in my own way. The men were drawn in…by my intensity to do this. I was doing Whole Lotta Love. And for a first run with no prior vocal practice….I was killing it.

Reality is I wouldn’t advise ANYONE doing this, seriously. Intensity was amping me up to get the job done. The metaphorical gauntlets were blown clean off, and I was covered in a layer of sweat as adrenaline was emptying through my breath, my fingers, and Blue’s low end authority.

The crowd of men stayed and cheered me on through the solo vocalization at the end…fist pumps all around. I was covered with sweat. Every drop of adrenaline had been given to make the tune come to life. I couldn’t sing the rest of the night (all 15 minutes left of it), but I had the pride of knowing I had pulled it off and I could foray…successfully…unto what some consider sacred ground. Robert Plant’s vocals were attainable. Practice from this point forward is necessary to make sure I simply didn’t just get a peak above the clouds. I want to stay there.

The metaphorical gauntlets were wrapped back on as we ushered our way through two more tunes. The rest of the armor holding the bomb blast under tight wraps was gone…no longer needed. I had focused it the shockwave out of my soul into PA system, my rig and the collection of souls gathered a few feet from from my space. The sound wave is still out there, traveling outward I’m sure. For the first time in days, I felt “clean and balanced” again. I was fully myself.

Intensity. People pull away from me because of it. I’ve endured all kinds of slander on my very core of being and the resulting dents to my self esteem because of it. I’ve seen people I love pull away and run, misunderstanding, misinterpreting the entire way.

That is, until I light up a stage and a vocal mic by focusing every ounce of that same intensity in a moment, a song, or a performance. Then they come running to be closer to it. Literally never realized that until now. Until I saw last night’s performance. It’s my superpower. Stick around long enough, and maybe you’ll get to see the view when I take the gauntlets off and light things up.

Words spoken by another friend echo through my head in the wee hours of the morning, my vocal chords aching from being torched….and if people can’t take it, it’s on them not you. After all, we have to live with ourselves every day

Truth. Gauntlets back on. Because sometimes you care enough for the people around you have no choice but to do so for their sake. But it’s nice to know there are a few who would still solidly be there after they came off. And there are others who would run towards you, drawn in by the light.

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