When I was in my late teens, I used to stare from my car, at people in their cars, trying to make eye contact. It blew my mind that there were other people in the world that had as many thoughts going through their heads as I did, who worried and laughed and worked and had a whole life which for moments at a time came in to such close proximity to mine without noticeably affecting it.
It is something I think about a lot now. Now, I walk up to strangers on the street and I talk with them. I have given myself the opportunity to talk with people I would never have approached otherwise. It has opened the world to me in ways I would not have predicted.
I recently received an email from someone to whom I gave a sticker in Colorado. He sent me an email to thank me for approaching and talking with him because he said most people are physically intimidated by him, though he would not hurt a fly.
Imagine that. I guess I don't have to. I have been told that I am intimidating. I don't always mean to be, I could not imagine someone being intimidated by a small woman like myself, yet, it has happened and I have been told that in many different situations, I am a bit off-putting, maybe even scary.
But I have come to something quite stunning. The other day, as I approached a woman, she yelled at me. She told me to stay away from her. In that moment, I had the thought that I could never get as close to another as I could allow myself to get to me. That probably sounds nonsensical. In fact, I am not sure I understand it completely, but in all my interactions with strangers, I have come to see that I am only able to do as much for another as I can for myself, and in some cases, it's not much, especially when I am diminishing the potency of my contribution.
So I think on this. I think that in every moment, I have the opportunity to grow through my interactions with other people, and depending on how I feel about myself in that moment, I can either get more than I could have ever dreamed, or nothing at all.
It is all up to me in every moment.
While that is comforting in a way, it is also quite a lot of pressure.
This is me trying to figure out what I think. I am just short of realizing my potential in so many moments...as if it is out there beyond my fingertips. Want to know what I am talking about? Go to A Love Rebellion! It is a social engagement project I am doing for the next three week. I have been doing it all summer and some wonderful things have come of it.
I gave up a long time ago. Well, not that long. Actually, I still struggle with it. My need for control, that is.
Funny thing that, as I grew up with The Serenity Prayer echoing in my ears:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
My mother, an addict of many substances, was consistently repeating this phrase and buying cheap posters, key chains and magnets with this prayer on it. The irony is that back then, if you had asked what one thing I would change if I could, I would have said my mother. My mother was and always has been one of the most eratic people I have ever known. I mean, now that she is dead, she is much more consistent, but at the time, that prayer always struck me as curiously hypocritical falling from her lips.
So it was many years until I actually came to the realization that there was very little in life that I could control, and many years later until I was able to actually stop trying. In fact, I would say it has been several months since I let that go. I'm 48. Just about.
So in a few weeks, I am giving a talk on The Legacy of You, "Taking Back Control." It feels a little bit like a set-up. Not in a bad way, it feels like more like a test. Like all my life has been building up to this moment, and this is like the final exam. Well, maybe not final. But a big one.
All my life has been constant change. When I was young, so many step parents, step brothers, step sisters in and out of my life, then later, partners, jobs, locations, projects. I have come to thrive on change. If I'm being honest, the stimulation of the new was always a great way to distract me from the pain. Maybe it was my own form of addiction, the stimulant of adjustment.
I don't know if I can be still. I don't know if I want to be still. I am not sure if letting go of the stimulation of constant change would be taking contol, or releasing it.
The thought of it scares me. At this point, it is the only thing that does.
Does change scare you? Or does stillness?
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