I don’t want to go back. I don’t want the days of cookie cutter anonymity, where the world sees you as just another friendly person, devoid of unlikable features, which makes the world feel more comfortable. Then, it makes the world feel so comfortable, that you work hard to maintain it, closing your opinions away into little cabinets and underground bunkers.
I’m not interested in a reality where silence in the face of circumstance indicates you are wiser and more palatable, for the general populace–where people say your opinions don’t matter, and you should just keep them to yourself. That is like saying, “F*ck innovation.” “F*ck growth.” I say, instead, “F*ck discomfort.”
I don’t enjoy living in a world where people assume you are being foolish, or reckless, for taking your opinions out of the cupboard, and placing them on your lawn. I have no time for society’s judgment, and really, nor do you.
I have only time to drive this life, which is a fast car I can barely manage to steer. I was taught to accelerate through the curves, and for a long time, I couldn’t. I stalled. Now, I’m done with that.
And here’s the thing. When you decide to write, or more accurately, when writing decides to happen to you, the first thing that happens, is division. Your writing serves an individual, or it does not. The inability to accept that your craft will not serve everyone will keep you from doing anything useful at all. I believe it is the same with sharing your opinions, wading into treacherous dialogues, and yes, even arguments.
A thick skin, accompanied by excellent listening skills, are paramount. Asking questions, while setting aside your own inner velociraptor, will help you in the long run. And if your pet induces carnage, don’t shake the limp body of your opponent. And if you get beaten, lick your wounds and then try again. Or don’t. Stay cozy. Really, that choice is yours.
I have had some absolutely stupendous arguments, and made new friends I could never have dreamed of, and I am just as inconsolably disgusted, rageful, and sometimes hopeless, as any of you who’ve landed in these camps. I am the mother of a hundred velociraptors, and yet, I’ve found the songs that lull them all to sleep.
There are a few things that have landed me here, in a place I would not even pretend to understand:
1. Humility, married tightly to my own sense of excellence. Willingness to be wrong. I’m wrong all the time. We all are. There’s so much to learn.
2. Great concern for the greater good, and passion for my causes. My role models have led the way: Jane Goodall, Nelson Mandela, Thich Nhat Hanh. And if Saint Teresa of Calcutta could get up and tirelessly do the work every day, then why, in my own humble and flawed ways, can’t I?
3. A firm grasp on the concepts of abundance, and non-grasping. I have plenty, and I am happy to live my life on this earth every day, exactly as it is manifesting.
4. Faith, in myself. I know myself, and I am dedicated to the art of loving all my neighbors. Some from a distance. I am not a fool.
5. A diverse group of friends and family who challenge me to think critically, every day. In fact, I know one truth and it is this: If I gathered every woman from my life, and put them in a giant house for one weekend, many of them would walk away having new nemeses, and others would form new lifelong loves. It would be brutal.
6. A comprehensive grasp on the workings of the human mind and psyche, and a new and amazing relationship with my own body and its red flags, white flags, and landmines. When my heart is pounding and I am getting ready to attack more than listen, it is time to let that amygdala simmer down. It is time to say, “Hold on a sec, my rational mind is slipping off the ledge, can I just get that back online and we’ll talk then?” (This one has either blown relationships to bits, or saved them, depending on the state of the other person’s amygdala.)
To share, is to be judged. Resist the urge to shape yourself into something more “likable.” If you are blasting into the curve, you may eat it. Allow the part of you that is indomitable, to pick the rest of you up. Notice who helps you up, and who does not, but make no assumptions about their inner workings. Sometimes the ones who want to see you succeed most will be quietly honoring your resiliency from the sidelines, and cheering you on like crazy.
And please, if you are most comfortable carrying your innovation quietly, like a slow burn, don’t elevate yourself above others. Don’t cheer their catastrophes. Do not feel you know more about them than they do, though you might be certain you do. Most importantly, please, when you are ready–share your thoughts. Don’t let them die in the kiln.