Three weeks ago I wrote about an experiment that I had tried that day ( see my July 4th article, “Who knew it would be so uncomfortable?”). I decided that I would go out and consciously make direct eye contact with the people I came across instead of looking down or away. Well, I had such a strong reaction to this very simple action that I decided to continue the experiment. I wanted to see if I could figure out what was really going on that made me feel so uncomfortable. I set the intention that I would find time every day to consciously look at strangers and pay attention to the feelings it generated within me.
It’s been a most interesting three weeks! I have noticed many things not the least of which is how ingrained and unconscious a pattern or behaviour can become, to the point that I’m not even aware that I’m doing it. As I looked at people, I was getting that funny uncomfortable feeling inside and kept asking myself what it was about. After the first several days, I realized that my desire to look away was really a desire to hide and not be seen. When I came to that conclusion, it seemed to come from out of nowhere but it was actually the explanation behind the feeling. You know how you have feelings and you can kindof describe them in terms of emotions (joy, anger, frustration, love, happiness, etc.)? But then you don’t go behind that to see if it comes from anywhere really? I could clearly tell that what I was feeling was fear but I wanted to know why. Fear of what? After all, people don’t scare me. I actually believe that people are inherently good and kind. So why in heavens name would I feel like hiding like an ostrich when I come across a stranger? Every day I deal with strangers. I didn’t like that conclusion I had come to, not one bit.
I simply didn’t realize that even though I can navigate people with relative ease, that I do so with a certain amount of hesitation in the sense that I don’t open myself up one bit. I clearly do not allow myself to be vulnerable. I look away or shut something of myself off so you can’t get in. Hmmm…
I decided after a few days that I would continue to force myself until I no longer had this desire to hide. I wanted to see what would happen if I did that. Another week of this and suddenly I started to feel completely different. I felt so much more a part of the world out there. It was like I was starting to carve out a space, like I existed and actually acknowledged my own existence. It sounds strange but that’s how it felt. And that realization gave me yet more confusion about the whole concept and I was perplexed again. Do you mean that all this time I’ve been going around not really being a part of this world? That perhaps I wasn’t allowed to be here, or worse, I didn’t deserve to be? Or something to that effect???
In the past week, it’s been even more interesting as I have started to see everything differently! I was at the IGA the other day and the whole place looked so very different to me. It was as if they’d turned on the lights and lo and behold, there were people, and sounds…the place was actually alive!! No small wonder everything was different if all this time I’ve been looking down. Now I actually see the shelves and the people and I have noticed that so very many people look down and away. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. Could all these people be feeling like I was feeling, as if they are not really a part of the world around them and wanting to be invisible? Yes, that’s it, I wanted to be invisible!! Whatever for???
I have to tell you another thing that happened at the IGA while I was looking up and at people. Yes, there were a whole bunch who looked away and moved on, but the others looked back and smiled, said hello and excused themselves for being in my way. Can you believe it…I was taking up space…being there!! It was really very fun!
Well let me tell you what you all probably already know but that I’m just discovering. It’s very interesting this new perspective and very much alive. I like it and so I’ve decided now that I’m getting out of my ostrich hole and I’m planting my two feet firmly onto this planet. Hang on to your hats because at last I’ve arrived…just like Mork from Ork. Nanoo, nanoo!!