"I have started to let my guard down a bit and explore parts of my life that have been dormant or not visited at all."
If you've known me for a while, you know that I tend to joke that I try my best to eat foods I'm pretty sure I don't like at least once a year just in case I was wrong the first time. Sometimes this works out great: I thought I hated dried apricots until I discovered oat cakes with dried apricots at the FileMaker cafeteria, which were delicious.
But this isn't what I want to talk about here. Rumi (via Philip Glass and Robert Wilson) apparently once advised us thusly: Don't be afraid to ask for what you really want. So: why are we afraid?
Sean/zombietruckstop once (rightfully) took me to task for kvetching about overly effeminate gay men. This was years ago; I think I've finally realized that my problem was simply that I didn't want to be part of "that group" (read: gay men). What I finally realized tonight was that it isn't about joining "that group" - it's about finding a commonality, creating a much bigger group that includes both yourself as well as the Other.
Whenever we're faced with music that we absolutely know we have to hate because after all Wal-Mart shopping lower income women like it (e.g. Celine Dion), don't worry if you really do like it - especially if you yourself are a well-educated person with refined aesthetic tastes. The very act of you liking it means that there's another dimension to the enjoyment those Wal-Mart shoppers are experiencing in their listening to the music. By stepping up and publicly daring to declare your love of Celine Dion (or Metallica, or the Dixie Chicks, or what have you), you are adding another dimension to all of the possible enjoyments that music holds. Hell, you could probably even find lots of mutual things to talk about, from why a song speaks so profoundly to a single mother of three to the technical ins and outs of melismatic singing - again: it isn't about lowering yourself down to join another group, it's about lifting both yourself and the others up to a newer, bigger, stronger group whose members can reach new joyous heights together.