If you were walking across a bridge and a gang of scary looking teens were partially blocking your way, would you stop and go a different way or would you walk on through? I was asked that question by my yoga instructor. My normal response is to feel the alarm. The crowd in front of me would scare me and I’d want to turn around and run the other way. A strange thing happens sometimes. A person who grows up feeling vulnerable will sometimes overcompensate by pretending to not be afraid. For a period of my life my approach to the gang of teens in front of me would cause me to assess the situation and “Do it afraid.” Chin up, shoulders back, don’t let them see you sweat. During my youth I became “not afraid” girl. Dare me. Double dog dare me even.
Now that I no longer have anything to prove, I know life is walking the balance. Stand up, ask for what you want, and voice your opinion. It may not always be listened to, but that’s okay. I listened to a wonderful audio book recently by Brene Brown. I love her Ted Talks also. She’s been plowing through traditional taboos in the business world. Things like showing vulnerability. If you get the chance, listen to her talks or pick up her book. My favorite quote is, “Do not shrink. Do not puff up. Stand my sacred ground.” – Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability.
Recently I ran into some trouble. Really I stumbled, tripped, and fell face first into it. There was a situation in which I felt I could be helpful. So I offered. I helped with advice and even did some of the effort to get the situation bettered. After a few months of everyone’s hard work, I was still in the position of helping but the mood changed. It was no longer appreciated. A lot of misunderstanding happened. All through that time, my mantra was, “Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Stand my sacred ground.” It’s not always easy to say your piece without getting upset, but it’s important to remember that even though you may not be heard, it’s okay to speak up. I continually remind myself to not be overly brave or cowardly. Just be where I am.
The sun is shining. the breeze is blowing. It’s a gorgeous fall day where I’m at.
When I walk outside on a pretty day, I have a choice. I can enjoy the breeze blowing in my hair and the warmth of the sun shining on my face, or I can complain about the bugs and the dust. It’s easier to say something isn’t right, to say that it’s broken, it’s too hot or too cold, than to just enjoy the day. Why is that? Are we afraid of just enjoying life? It could be. There’s a deeply ingrained superstition that says if say things are going well then you are jinxing it and it will now mess up.
Also in America if you don’t appear to be working hard, if life isn’t a struggle, you are thought to be lazy. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you heard someone say they had enough sleep? Or enough money? The only time I ever hear people talk of too much of something is when they are complaining about the weather or their work load. The great status symbol of being a hard worker. Appearing to be able to handle something makes you look lazy. The unhurried, unruffled commuter is a rare sight.
I know people who can take the simplest jobs and make them look colossally difficult. What would take one person 30 minutes will take the harried worker 3 hours. And woe is me, the stress.
We have to stop this. I have to stop this. Yes, I even catch myself doing it. The people who get attention and sympathy are the ones who complain the most. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. When I was in my 20s I’d listen to people moan about their lives. How difficult it was to walk in their shoes. Most of the time I pretended that things were easy even if they weren’t because I didn’t want to be considered incompetent. And it’s possible my life was easy compared to theirs. But I had kids, taught volunteer classes, worked, moved 5 times, got divorced and continued living. Looking back now with some perspective I realize, no, their life wasn’t super difficult. It was just them. They needed people to feel sorry for them, or think of them as capable, strong people. They had to toot their own horn a bit.
My choice is to make a fuss, complain, moan, and gripe or I can enjoy my life as it is. Mostly life isn’t that difficult. We make it complicated. I don’t need to seem important. I only came here to enjoy the breeze.
The opening scene of my favorite TV series is chaotic. Burning metal, screaming and crying people. It’s shock and awe at it’s finest. No warning except the brief turbulence and the engines shutting down. The airplane tears in half and crashes on a deserted island. It’s a much more traumatic scene than Gilligan’s Island. The TV series LOST dumps you with the terrified passengers of Oceanic flight 815.
One man, Jack, understands the situation and looks around. He’s cut, sore, and just as shaken as all the rest. But his first reaction tells you who he is. Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia.
On September 22, 2004, Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) awakens in the jungle and notices a yellow Labrador retriever darting through the bamboo forest. He runs through the jungle to a beach, where he is confronted by the carnage of the airplane crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Jack, a surgeon, darts from one survivor to the next, administering medical aid. He assists the pregnant Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin), enlists Hurley (Jorge Garcia) to watch her, and administers CPR to Rose Henderson (L. Scott Caldwell), saving her life.
When you’re new it’s obvious who’s in charge. Very few try to usurp authority at first. We fit in. We do our job and go home at the end of the day. But what happens when we are all equals? What makes one person, like Jack, take charge and take care of the needs of others? What’s their thoughts at that moment? What emotion spurs them forward while others can’t think? We’d all like to think we’d be the in control, calm person asking for supplies. Truth is there is no way of knowing what you’d do until you get in that situation. An interesting thing happens after the chaos of the first scene of this movie. Everyone, well maybe not everyone, turns on Jack. When the chaos calms and the fear is forgotten people start resenting the authority. In a crisis we look to our leaders as heroes. We want the strong, authoritative person. The military is our knight in shining armor.
Until the dust settles.
It’s not that we didn’t appreciate their help. Quite the opposite. It’s the crisis versus peace dichotomy and our country is in the middle of it. In a crisis we seek authority. Then we want to get on with our lives and left alone. According to conspiracy advocates countries create crisis to control the population. I’m not a total conspiracy geek, but I can see the reasoning. What we need to do as people is to understand why we want authority and how much is enough. I don’t have the all the answers, but it is something I feel we all need to think about. Do we live in a time of crisis or a time of peace? And how will we respond to either? Authority isn’t the enemy or the hero. Sometimes we need a person to step forward and take charge, but they must also be able to graciously step down when the crisis is over.
About 10 years ago I had a very epic dream.
It started with an accident on the freeway with anger and confusion. It was overwhelming. I wanted to hide.
The next part was a horrible blood-filled and sad scene. The third scene was of picking up debris after a tornado and storm. Tree limbs and broken things were lying all around, then someone called for me.
My dress was ready, a wedding dress. When I came out, a procession was waiting and I was walking down the outdoor aisle. At that moment I saw myself. Rare in my dreams. I almost didn’t recognize my own face. I was beautiful and innocent looking. All of the horror and fear and grief passed in a moment. There was joy.
It was a moving dream and at the time I didn’t know if it was for me personally or the world. I’ve thought often that it was mine alone because my life went through those things, but now I realize it was for our world also. I hope that we as a people are progressing along these lines and will be beautiful brides.