Deference. Lemme tell you 'bout it. In my college sorority years I learned the term, although culturally I had been taught the practice long ago. So with this previous experience in mind, when I was asked by someone (who is my elder, but not old) to read a poem at an event she was orchestrating, I obliged. Even though the event was only a week or two away and I was already a little busy. She is a very intuition-based person, so if she felt lead to invite me then I was going to do what I could to be there. (Small plug for her organization, Wonder of Women, and the event host, Girl Trek!)
Look- it was absolutely worth it.
The day of the event I was scrambling to transition from a rehearsal for a separate event and I hadn't had as much time to practice reading the poem as I'd have liked. I made it to the venue and was face deep in the print-out of my piece. But once it began, IT BEGAN!
The energy in the room was magical. There were women sharing their stories, comforting eats provided by one of my favorite local caterers (That Brown Girl Cooks), movement therapy to help everyone open up, musical performances, and so many genuine embraces. By the time I got to the mic, I had laughed, cried, and twerked a little bit. And though I'd read this piece before, when I read it this time it felt so much more personal. It took all I had not to start crying as I recited it!
Afterward there were several women who told me they identified with/ were inspired by what I shared. As touched as they were, I was even more so moved by what I experienced that night. It was one of the best readings I've had all thanks to deference. It's always the smallest lessons that come back in major ways!
(Also, if you wanna see the reading check my Facebook page!)