Wednesday, October 17, 2007


This week I saw an incredible amount of transparency in a very unexpected situation. My roommate and I were watching “Ellen” and the minute she stepped out and the camera’s started rolling, she began to cry. We weren’t expecting that. And as tears began to fall she said,

“"People say to me a lot, 'How do you do the show if you're in a bad mood? How do you do your show if you're sad, or, don't you have bad days?' I'm a human being and I have bad days and I have sad days. But when I walk out here, and you all cheer, and when you're here to dance, you're here to laugh, and I know I make people happy, it changes my mood. I come out here and I can do anything because of the energy I get. But today is a hard day for me. Today is bad. I am not capable of coming out and pretending to be funny when things are going so terribly wrong right now. I'm so sorry -- I'm just not able to pretend. So I'm going to tell you the story. I'm going to get over it and we're going to have a good show.”

This kind of emotion and transparency is rare. Regardless of how you feel about Ellen DeGeneres, and regardless of the fact that her story ended up being about a dog, you cannot help but know that her emotion was real, and she wasn’t afraid to be transparent for a moment.

When we are transparent with someone, we are forced into relationship with them. When you see pain in another human beings eyes, you cannot help but feel connected to them. I don’t know Ellen, and I never will, but in that moment we were connected, because I know the emotion that came out. I see it in myself; I see it in hearts of the people I love. And I see it in the eyes of the people I’ve never met. This is a common and deep bond between human beings.

The most chilling and profound sentence to me was when she said, “I am not capable of coming out and pretending to be funny when things are going so terribly wrong right now.” It was to this point where she wasn’t even CAPABLE of putting a mask on anymore. It wasn’t even an option.

I think you know that feeling. When someone comes along just at the right moment and asks the right question: “How are you?” and you just can’t do it. You can’t say “Fine” anymore. You begin to cry, or maybe shift about if you’re the tough type, and then you let it down. You let the walls down. “You know…things aren’t going so good right now.” And then you talk.

I wish I saw this more often. This realization that life is not lived alone and that we are in this amazing continuous relationship with one another. Life is meant to be lived transparently. You might think Ellen is annoying, you might think she’s odd, and you might despise her because of her lifestyle, but I pray that you got past how you feel about someone to see that you are just the same as them. Be transparent…please.

1 comment:

WES ELLIS said...

Transparency has everything to do with community.

Community is a covenant and in a covenant there are "rules." All People--especially people in close relationships--are obligated, in covenant, to honesty and transparency, among other things. Community is not supposed to be easy.

Transparency--being honest about who you are--is difficult and it's a balancing act. There is a dishonesty that comes out in the form of artificiality. We've all seen this (perhaps most commonly at church)--someone who's all smiles on the outside but struggling on the inside. And there is a such thing as "too much." Being honest with yourself also sometimes involves awakening to the fact that you life might not actually be all that bad.

Sometimes silence is the most honest answer...

transparency in the context of community is about giving and receiving (and the receiving might be the most difficult part) the most honest answers.