No, I’m not talking about March Madness.
In fact, I am currently boycotting all sports-related nonsense due to massive burnout caused by frequent, incessant exposure.
It’s like a bad sunburn. I know the stinging pain and abhorrent itching caused by an overindulgence of UV rays will eventually go away, but until that happens, I avoid sunlight like, well, your standard vampire.
One of these days, I’ll be able to sit down and watch a football or hockey game or Olympic swimming in my usual way…one eye on the game, the other on whatever else I’m doing. But not today. Not yet.
**shakes things off**
I do feel a maddening need to share a few things, so please bear with me.
The madness I’m referring to is a recent revelation. The week is only halfway through and I already feel like I’ve run off the road, bouncing thumpity-thump off cone after cone on the highway of life.
This past weekend, I attended a St. Patrick’s Day function, arriving fashionably late to miss the corn beef and cabbage dinner (have I mentioned I’m a vegetarian?), but early enough to get in a little dancing. The event was attended by a great many people who I see regularly, but hadn’t seen in several weeks. I was greeted like the conquering hero. I’ve been busy, not imprisoned at a POW camp in some far-off place. It was nice to know I’m missed when I’m not around. However, the reactions, while pleasant, seemed extreme.
On Monday, I ran into another person I know who proceeded to ask me out for a dinner date. My most recent relationship is barely cold and this person knows it. The asking, while done nicely and in a gentlemanly manner, seemed presumptuous. Just like I’m not ready to watch sports yet, I’m not ready to date either. I let the guy down gently but couldn’t help wondering if he was rushing to ask me out before anyone else did, afraid he’d miss the boat if he waited for a reasonable mourning period to pass. With this particular person, that is a valid assumption. Don’t get me wrong. I was flattered. It was nice to know someone new finds me attractive, even if I don’t feel the same way towards him.
On Tuesday, I rode the commuter train into Chicago for a seminar. The guy sitting across from me engaged me in conversation. I admit I don’t often ride the train but from what little train riding experience I have, this is not a common occurrence. People sleep, listen to their iPods, read a book or the paper, stare blindly out the window. They do NOT strike up conversations with strangers, particularly on the 15 minute express train. It struck me as odd.
None of these incidents, alone or together, are unusual.
But I found it all a little weird. Flattering, but weird.
I’m not complaining. I’m not trying to get sympathy or empathy or even a “why the heck are you sharing this stuff?”, especially since every one of these incidents occurred in the spirit of flattery and kindness and connection. I know that. I see that.
I’m a friendly person. Most days, I’m a nice person. People seem to like me. I’m not bragging. I’m just trying to put things in context because none of the above is absurd or dysfunctional or harmful. But each occurrence startled me.
What I found startling was that all these incidents happened one right after the other. And the rapid-fire, consecutive events made me think.
I have long been on a journey to authenticity, to accepting vulnerability is NOT weakness, to being more open to people and the world around me after many, many years of being closed off in fear.
This journey, often arduous but mostly satisfying, has led me back to writing and pushed me to pen/type a novel.
It has led me to making this blog public with a commitment of three posts a week. Connections to others with similar interests and common goals have been made in the blogging world through this experience.
In one of my early steps to open up, I joined Facebook a couple of years back, setting aside my vehement refusal to participate in what I originally saw as a total waste of time (maybe I was thinking of MySpace?), which in turn allowed me to reconnect with old friends from school and to stay connected with the friends I left in Texas.
I have faced the things I am ashamed of and let them go. I have learned to be honest, to be genuinely empathetic, to set boundaries and hold them.
The madness is not that people were happy to see me.
The madness is not getting asked on a date.
The madness is not talking to a stranger on the train.
The madness is the sudden, blinding revelation that I may be much further along the road to presenting myself as I truly am, the good parts and the parts I would rather hide, than I ever thought possible. The evidence is there in the genuine, loving embrace and kinship from friends and acquaintances alike.
And it isn’t madness at all.
The grace, joy, and gratitude I have been granted over the last several days takes my breath away. This life truly is fantastic.
Has anything happened to you in the recent past that took your breath away?