This weekend so so so many people tried to get in contact! (Hi, y’all!) I’m very grateful to have heard from all of you, but I wanted to take a quick moment to do a little housekeeping and make sure that I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings—- Sam and I informally observe a sort of secular Sabbath, so if you tried to reach me on Friday and you didn’t hear back until today, I’m not avoiding you, we just try to keep my weekends for family unless we’re at a show. Sometimes I’ll slip some work in on a Saturday, but I’ve been in retreat for the last few months, so I’ll admit this weekend took me rather by surprise. Complicating things, Hugo needed an urgent- care vet visit this morning, so I’m a little bit behind in responding to everything- again, it’s not you, it’s definitely us. (He’s completely fine, btw: just a little over- exertion.) Years of government work and geographic separation have led us to be somewhat odd about our family time.
Okay, housekeeping handled. Back to our regularly scheduled event:
This Monday past- Release Day, we’re calling it in the house- was all a bit of a lovely blur. After I’d done my announcements and a little bit of promotional work (and some dancing), I took my good friend Lindsey’s advice and left the house for a bit to treat myself. Her actual advice was to go out for a nice dinner that night, but Sam was at work and I was full of busy, fizzy energy, so I took the spirit of the thing to heart, hopped into my car and took a long drive out into the country to clear my head, aiming for a hot dog stand out in the sticks. (I know, I know. That’s not my idea of a nice dinner either, but it was the first perfect day in weeks and I had a craving.)
Windows down, music up, I was thinking how solidly good the feeling of completion is, that dust- my- hands- off sensation of a job well done, especially after several months of effort. We enjoy hard work specifically for this feeling; more of that “dinner before dessert” business, right?
There’s a satisfaction finishing up a job; it makes a body feel helpful and useful. From that space, I began to wonder how different things might be if everyone felt more useful, overall. Not just in their work, but in all ways; what would it mean if we all felt necessary, essential to our families, our communities, to the world? Not in a self- inflated, egotistical way- we all know that guy- but simple and grounded: you have skills, you are a unique presence, and those things are valued.
What a warming thought. I’ve known folk who manage to make the people around them feel this way- that’s a true gift, one of those rare talents you really notice when you find it. I think of those people very warmly; even when I’ve only known them in passing, they leave deep impressions. One of my grandmothers used to tell me the mark of gentility was going out of one’s way to make those around you feel at ease without compromising yourself, and while I don’t truck much with the precise concept of gentility these days, I know what she was getting at and heartily endorse the sentiment. I want to be that person; I’m not that girl yet, but it’s a damned good goal to have.
We all want to be seen, really seen, accepted, and wanted. That need lies at the core of so many of our drives and right in the center of Maslow’s hierarchy; it sits, I think, in the heart of our selves. I think of the opportunities I’ve passed up just out of the fear of rejection (and there we go with fear again), and I can begin to understand how important this desire to be accepted, wanted, and welcomed really is.
I’ve spent a fair portion of my life not expecting to be welcomed in spaces; it is my trained default. I don’t feel badly about that—- it’s been so useful, teaching me to enter an environment respectfully, to learn the rules without intruding, and to observe keenly. It’s taught me how to be almost invisible, a very useful skill indeed, and how to blend. Most importantly of all, it has taught me gratitude beyond measure when I am welcomed into a good space, and I can’t quantify that: gratitude has been my salvation.
I think about that a lot these days, warmly: all those open arms past, all those welcomes, all that extension of goodwill behind me and what an enormous difference it made—- in my life, and then further, as it sort of snowballed down the line. Those folks- the people with what my grandmother would call gentility– they weren’t only being welcoming in just that moment, after all, even the people I’ve known in passing. They were showing me how I wanted to live. They were helping me figure out how to heal old, broken bits. These people taught me how to see myself, really see who I am and smile, and how important that is to do for others.
I wish I could say I had the equanimity to manage that mindset with the constancy I’ve seen in others; I can’t, though: I get caught up in traffic and politics and pain and gossip and really, any of it, but I’m trying not to beat myself up over it as much these days, because that isn’t very productive and beating myself up is pretty much the inverse of well, all of it, right? Yeah. Right. Exactly right.
I try, though, and it’s in the trying that the work happens. In truth, none of us are maintaining that perfect equanimity. As long as we are out there, meeting one another, opening our arms and trying, looking each other in the eye and saying Oh, good, you are finally here, come in, come in; there is room for everyone at the table, the work is being done, and isn’t that what matters? Sure, we could play cool and pretend we’ve never felt alone, or we could get a little vulnerable, lean in and make everyone feel welcome; we don’t all need to sit at the same table, but we’re all for damn sure in the same lunchroom, if you know what I mean, so really, we might as well, in the end. Besides, sharing your lunch is better, anyway—- but that’s a different post entirely.
Who always made you feel seen? Welcomed? Safe and wanted? I want to hear your stories of love and acceptance; it seems like a damned fine thing to collect in the comments. this week. I’ll give as good as I get, Scout’s honor. Let’s share.
Speaking of sharing: now that I’ve survived my first week as a Craftsy instructor (and it’s completely fine!), I wanted give a little back to folks, too. Here’s a half- price link to my class for my readers, with my love and gratitude for all the support.