Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How we hold ourselves back

I'm a huge fan of Ani DiFranco and some lines from one of her songs keep circling in my head so I thought I'd put them down here and explore. The song is "Joyful Girl". * "Everything I do is judged and they mostly get it wrong, but oh well the bathroom mirror has not budged and the woman who lives there can tell the truth from the stuff they say and she looks me in the eye says, "would you prefer the easy way? no? well okay, then don't cry." * First of all I have to say that Ani DiFranco is a super genus. Not simply for these great lyrics but for her whole mind-blowingly prolific career. Goddess bless her!! I love these lines because I feel so mis-understood so often. I don't have the energy or time to explain to the people around me why I think or act the way I do but I don't think we should have to. I had a conversation recently about how shocking it can be when people are blatantly rude or cruel. It really throws me- like I have no idea where these people are coming from that they would treat another person so unkindly. I think that's cultural, to some extent. That doesn't excuse it, but we have been raised and taught to do for ourselves. It takes a lot to un-learn that type of programming. So I really don't excuse that but it underscores the fact that we really can't understand where other people are coming from. They have had life experiences that we haven't and the collection of those experiences is what has brought them to this moment- in whatever state they may be. Aside from cruelty and downright bad behavior, I love how strange we can seem to one another just in how we do ordinary things. I saw someone parallel parking yesterday and there were no cars in the spots behind where he was parking but rather than just drive straight into the spot (which is what I would've done because I fear parallel parking) he drove past the spot and proceeded to back in, making it much more difficult than it needed to be. I drove by, thinking, "that's amazing!". Then I wondered why. Maybe this person is so used to parallel parking that it wasn't more difficult to do it this way. Maybe this person was practicing in a space without a car behind it to get more confidence. (Maybe I should try that.) Whatever the reason, it was one of those moments where I realized that we truly do not understand one another as individuals. (and that I am fascinated by people because who thinks of these things?) There is some freedom in that. If we could just be amazed at the different ways people do things, rather than railing that they 'should have' done it this way, who knows what we would learn? On the flip side of that, if we all did what we felt was right for ourselves (as long as it didn't harm ourselves or others) without even a hint of a thought to how other people would perceive our actions... Wow! What a world! If a business man suddenly started skipping down the sidewalk, because he felt like it, and nobody stared, or if they did, it just made them smile rather than thinking he'd gone mad. If we felt less uncomfortable with eye contact. If we could smile at strangers and say hello, instead of staring at the ground. If we could sing in public, because we want to and it feels good. If the word 'normal' was relegated to science labs because there is no such thing when it comes to living beings. If we didn't feel self-conscious after laughing too loudly because laughs should be loud and full. If we re-membered the freedom we felt as children. If we became more inquisitive and patient. If we let the world take on the mystery that is innate in everything, forgetting that we think we have it all figured out. If we were spontaneous and followed our instincts. If we danced down the street to the music coming out of stores, or to no music at all. If we appreciated the little moments and our own uniqueness. If being different didn't ever make anyone feel alone. If we could comfort strangers because we can see they need it. If we learned to use our talents to help all the rest. If freedom was not an idea or something for vacations, but the truth that we lived and breathed every day. If we knew that we were not going to be judged, how brave would we become?

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