"So, young lady, are you in high school or college?" I am standing just outside of the bus that is waiting to take me thirty miles south, to the temporary home I will have for the next month and a half. I look up at the man looking down at me. I wait a moment, smile up at him and reply, "Sir, I am 46. I am quite done with both." He responds without missing a beat, "yes, but you never stop learning. For instance, you have just learned that I am in fact legally blind." And with that, he turns and steps up onto the bus, leaving me grinning behind him.
These small interactions remind me that I do in fact, love people. That my father is in some ways, still with me. That I am open to the entertainment that exists within the everyday. That I can have a short conversation with a stranger and come away delighted. That what happens in a microcosm can be applied to the whole wide world.
It is only recently that I have begun to comprehend how vital it is to understand what is important. I did not come upon this realization by chance, but through decades of spending my energy and time on what is in fact, not important. What I have discovered is that doing what is important is wonderful, but it is also scary as fuck.
For the last two and a half weeks, I have been promoting my Kickstarter campaign for my Love Yo'Self coloring book. As of this writing, I have nine days left, and I am roughly 1700 dollars away from my goal, which is really not that bad. I quit my job in January because while I liked it, I was becoming increasingly aware that it was crushing my soul. Not because of the type of work I was doing, but because of the behavior of all the unhappy people who also worked at that place. Dealing with unhappy people and the shit they pull was becoming too much a part of my job, as it had been in every other job I ever held and had to eventually quit. I noticed that I too, was becoming an unhappy person, and I did not want to leave another job angry. I wanted to do something that I love, something that I care deeply about, something that I could put all of my passion behind. So that is what I did, and that is what I am doing.
Since January, I have been working my ass off trying to get this thing off the ground. Since January, my life has been a bit tenuous. Since January, I have been existing on what I am barely making to get by. Since January, I have been the happiest I have ever been in my life. And the most scared.
When I have had a job, and I tried and failed to accomplish something, it was not all that devastating. After all, it was not my dream that I was failing at, it was someone else's, and in fact, just as often, no one else's. The only person I was letting down was my boss, and that was only incrementally. Either way, having a job, in retrospect, was more safe because I never really put my heart and soul on the line for it, and while there were times I took immense pride in the work that I did, I never felt like I was doing something that was vitally important.
I am scared shitless. I know, it sounds trite. It is a First World problem. But I have come to see that this move is the culmination of a gigantic shift in my perspective and life that has happened in increments over the course of the last six years. I have developed the habit of asking myself, "am I doing what matters? Am I concerning myself with bullshit? Am I burning precious energy with people who do not truly value me as a human?"
I look back and I see that I have come almost full circle. Starting at the age of about 15, I went through a phase where I was doing anything I could to get love, even if it was self-destructive. After that, in my late 30s, I went through a phase where I was picking people who I could keep at a distance, because I knew they had no interest in really knowing me or seeing me. I was whole heartedly choosing people to be in my life who I could easily keep away, mostly because the people I had been attracting before this time had been so damaging.
Lately, it has shifted. I have had the great luck of attracting people who are "all-in" supporters of who I am. These people ride the golden chariot of acceptance and show me almost daily, in their actions and words, that it is a two way street. Even when it is in a fragment of an interaction with a man at a bus stop.
Self-love and accceptance is not a destination, but a journey, and along the way, you meet many people, some who are completely blind to who you are, and some who see you and can stand squarely in front of you and tell you, "bring it."
The idea of letting these people down devastates me. Becausw being seen involves expectation. It involves people believing that you will operate at a certain level. That you will not let them down with your humanity. I love the relationships I have developed with these wonderful souls. But I now see why I never had them before. Letting them down would be a failure I am not sure I could bear, and so it seems that not only am I being seen by those closest to me, In being seen, I am also becoming aware of my own potential. I am becoming aware that if I fail, it is only because I have held myself back.
I went to a movie the other day called Don't Think Twice, about an Improv group and what they experience when one of the members makes the big time. At the end of the movie, the guy is talking to his girlfriend, who held herself back from going to her audition for her big shot. He is trying to understand why she would do that.
After a series of horrible events, she is the only one who shows up for the troupe's last show, and as she is re-enacting her horrible day, she realizes she feels like she is in a well, and above, everyone is freaking out and trying to pull her up, and she realizes, and tries to tell them,"I like it in the well." Meaning, she is more comfortable being in a hole in the ground where people throw coins on her, making wishes for their own lives.
When the actress said these words, "I like it in the well," I realized that I had been in a well all my life, but had no desire to be in it any longer. I almost burst into tears because I so desperately want to pull myself out of that goddamn well.
I am just hoping that when I get to the top, the light of day does not blind me.
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