I was hanging out at a cafe, writing and wearing headphones, when this guy walked in — a regular who’s hit on me a few times in the last couple of weeks. He’s nice enough but came on a little too strong the last time we spoke, and when he greeted me and then sat down beside me last Sunday morning, I was already feeling beyond exhausted from finals, a forty-hour work week, and a weekend music gig.
He’s going to stay here and talk TO me for the next hour and A HALF if I don’t nip this in the bud RIGHT NOW, I warned myself.
I know, but what can I do?!
Just… SAY something, I offered weakly.
Gee, THANKS, I grumbled inwardly.
So I smiled as I removed one of my earbuds. “Hey dude — look, I’d really love to chat with you, but my emotional and social reserves are right here,” I explained, lowering my left hand towards the cafe’s concrete floor and squinting over at him.
His eyebrows shot up. “Oh — well…”
And then he picked up his things, seated himself at a table nearby, finished his coffee and meal very quickly and left.
I got the pretty distinct impression that he had been offended by my lack of niceness, but you know what? Go me.
Four Days Later
“So what’s the best part of your week been?”
I glanced over to my left. Audio (the boy who knows I like him but refuses to directly address the matter) had just pulled up alongside me (again) during a Thursday night bike ride. We were now rolling through an intersection together.
“The BEST part?” I repeated. “Wellllllllll…” I hesitated. “LOTS of nice things have happened this week!” I exclaimed finally, feeling frazzled.
“You can include the weekend,” he added encouragingly.
“Hmmmmm…” I thought about it some more. “You know, I feel like something really great happened on Tuesday — I just can’t recall what it was… but I DID stick up for myself on Sunday,” I said, telling the tale and expressing how proud of myself I was.
“You know what?” he laughed. “It’s funny you’d say that, because I stuck up for myself this week, too,” and then he related a work incident that he’d handled bravely and professionally. I noticed him really holding my gaze while he spoke, and I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him — like REALLY, dude?! What the heckin’ HECK?
Instead, I smiled over at him and his stupidly gorgeous gray eyeballs.
Soon after, we were rolling into the alley behind Redemptive Cycles and everybody was stepping off of their bikes, grabbing a beer or a water bottle and then finding a group of people to hang out with. I leaned my bike up against the chain link fence and, when I turned around, Audio had reappeared.
“So like I was saying earlier…” he continued, looking and being adorable. I love-hated watching and listening to him.
“Let’s go mingle,” he suggested eventually, nodding towards the others.
“Alrighty,” I sang out, leaving my bike to walk beside him, “but I don’t usually do this — just walk up to people and start chit chatting…” but then I spotted a guy I knew there in the crowd and ran over to him.
“Heya!” I greeted him. “I’ve been tasked to mingle, which is terrifying, so I decided to come over here and hang out with you,” I explained openly, hopping up onto the metal landing behind the back door.
“Ahhhhh — you know me, so I’m safe?” he laughed.
“YEP!” I grinned.
He leaned his back into the railing, crossing his feet and arms in front of him. “Who here isn’t safe, Jace?”
His question surprised me. I looked around us. “I mean — nobody isn’t safe… all of these people seem safe…”
“But if you had to pick, who seems unsafe? In other words, who would you NOT feel comfortable walking up to and starting a conversation with?”
My eyes and ears traveled the crowd again, taking in shapes and colors and faces and voices. I saw Audio’s outline to my right and my heart lurched. He isn’t safe at all, I admitted to myself, because I like him too much, and too openly.
“Again — I really don’t find anyone here to be unsafe…” I hesitated. “I mean, maybe that girl over there.” I nodded toward her, a curly-haired brunette. “She isn’t DANGEROUS or anything, but I try to smile at her whenever I see her and she’s always kinda bristly… I’m afraid that she doesn’t like me.”
“Ahhhh… that’s Valerie,” my friend said, nodding. “She’s an introvert, like you.”
I nodded understandingly.
“Let’s go talk to her,” he clapped, grinning.
“NO WAY, Jose!” I protested, but he had already grabbed my hand and tugged me down from the landing and, suddenly, we were approaching Valerie and her group of friends. I felt queasy.
“Hello, all!” my friend greeted the group. Five pairs of eyes immediately settled on the two of us. “Valerie,” he continued, gesturing toward me, “this is Jace.”
“Hi,” I offered quietly, desperately hoping she didn’t think I was hitting on her, because while I totally wasn’t, I imagined that it might seem like I was (strolling over, uninvited, with a well-meaning wingman).
She nodded at me and then continued speaking to the group; they were discussing internet speeds and competitor pricing (AT&T versus Charter). I bounced on the balls of my feet while I listened along and smiled over at my friend every now and then — sincerely grateful for his interest in making me feel less like an outsider.
After ten minutes of hanging around, I decided I’d had my fill for the evening.
“I’m heading home,” I told my friend. “I have to pee, and the back door’s locked.”
He laughed loudly. “Oh dear — well I’m sure we can find somewhere for you to go and use the restroom,” he protested.
“Nah, that’s okay — I’m also tired.” I smiled, bid him goodnight, and began walking back toward my bike.
“Jace — are you leaving?”
He hopped down from the metal landing (he’d taken my spot when I’d left) and ran over to hug me goodbye. I hugged him back, noticing him holding me a little closer than he had the previous week, and then I let him go, suspecting that a hug from me would never mean as much to him as a hug from him meant to me. How sad!
And then I hoisted my bike up onto the rack on my car and drove home, feeling proud of myself for being somewhat okay with that.
“There is no future that we’re supposed to have; there is the future that we create for ourselves every damn day.” –somebody
Aka, Audio and I aren’t destined to be together. Don’t be silly, reader! I just think that I might like for us to be together… might, because I don’t even know the guy! There’s just this magical something about him — this essence…
I’m reading a fantastic book this week: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Here are some of the best things I’ve learned so far:
- Be selective about the fucks you give. For example, caring deeply when the cashier is unfriendly, the guy in traffic’s being a dick, and your German Shepherd has eaten another pair of your fancy and expensive mountaineer socks could be indicative that you are lacking real meaning in your life. In other words, if you’re choosing to expend your energy and burn your emotions on trivial, petty shit (trivial and petty in the grand scheme of things), you must have nothing better to focus your attention on. And if that’s true, you might wanna take a closer look at your lifestyle, dreams, and values…
- Stop trying to avoid suffering. We’re wired to do this: pursue pleasure and avoid pain — ignore all of the stuff that hurts and breaks out hearts and chase after pleasure highs instead (food, alcohol, cinema, parties, etc.). But the truth is that suffering is an essential part of this life process — and that while suffering isn’t pleasant, it’s actually good for us, because it’s instrumental in helping us grow! The slightly good news: You can often choose what you’re going to suffer for (and thereby choose to make it something worthwhile; for example: Instead of fretting over the fact that a coworker or could-be friend doesn’t like you and suffering from that sense of rejection, you could choose to nicely not give a fuck about that and – instead – suffer through tedious hours of practicing Spanish verb conjugations so that you can connect with a whole other group of people). I’d like to share this, too: The best moments of my life so far haven’t been those big ole highlights: graduating with a 2-year degree, performing on stage in front of 800 people, or getting married. My best and most defining moments were the ones that happened long before or after these “big” milestone events: spending four years’ worth of evenings and weekends attending classes and studying to get that puny degree; dedicating my free time, as a teenager, to earning callouses on my left hand as I learned the notes and scales and proper chord structure for the guitar; and collecting slash reassembling all of my broken pieces after an earth-shattering divorce and realizing – when I was neck-deep in that excruciatingly painful process – that I was WAY more resilient and brave and powerful than I’d EVER given myself credit for.
- Quit trying to be right all of the time. I know people like this; they do or say something that is plainly wrong but absolutely refuse to admit it. Annoying, right? But here’s the thing: WE ALL DO THAT! We ARE those annoying people! At least sometimes… and if your focus is always on being slash appearing to be right, you’re precluding the chance of learning something new about yourself and the world (plus, if you’re an “always righter”, you prob won’t come off as being very real or likable to others).A few tips:1. When you discover that you ARE wrong about something, realize that you go from being wrong about it to LESS wrong about it — not necessarily right. We’re all on an infinite journey of approaching truth and rightness, but I (personally) don’t believe that any of us ever actually make it all the way there.
2. Don’t be afraid to be real with yourself. If you’re avoiding a person, confront yourself about it. Why am I avoiding them? Do they make me nervous? Make me feel bad about myself? Make me feel inferior? If so, why? And if so, why? If you’re avoiding a career or lifestyle change that’s always on your mind, why are you hanging back? Does the idea of taking action make you feel scared? Are you afraid to find out whether or not you can actually do the thing and would prefer to simply sit back and imagine that you could if you really tried?
- People may be to blame for your unhappiness, but they are NOT responsible. This one hit hard, because I’ve been through some shit, and I have (at least in part) blamed others for my deep, dark sadness… but you know what? All of us have been through shit AND put others through shit. People break our hearts and murder our pets and go and die on us, and in ways, we do the same mean shit to them. But here’s the thing: Though we like to believe that our suffering is special and that we are poor victimized targets of the world, we are not. And we are not helpless.The truth is, neither our talents nor our suffering are unique or special… our sadness isn’t something to be worn like a crown. So shake it off, and let it go — and if you aren’t sure how to do that, figure out how. One part of that “how” is asking yourself real questions and then being completely honest when you answer yourself.If someone has injured you in some way, shame on them, but don’t expect them to make it better. You are ultimately responsible for your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, so figure out how to heal and take care of yourself. Placing the blame and burden on somebody else and waiting for them to come through on making amends is just foolish… and why hand off your control over something so vital — inner peace?
- Reconsider your goals and values. In a nutshell, good goals are process-oriented, and good values are non-comparative… BAD goals and BAD values are just the opposite.Like:Instead of “lose twenty pounds”, try “treat my body well” — the latter is more of an ongoing and comprehensive/balanced kinda goal (that includes LOTS of things other than weight, like getting ample sleep + sunshine, eating a varied diet, and exercising).
Instead of “make every person I meet like me” or “make people like me more than they like xyz person” (which is impossible and is NOT something you can directly control), adopt values like “express myself honestly” or “improve my social life” (by relating with others authentically and unswervingly practicing friendliness and compassion, even in the face of evil-troll-bitch-from-hell characters).
The next chapter in the book (which I’ve yet to read) is titled “The Importance of Saying No”. I’m especially looking forward to it, because saying no to cafe dude on Sunday was a monumental but terrifying step for me — a person who loves to make people feel happy and good about themselves at almost any expense to herself.
How about you?
- Are you able to nicely say no when necessary to protect your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being?
- Are you fully conscious of how you’re spending your life energy, and are you happy with where it’s being channeled?
- Are you deliberate about doling out your fucks or are they just spilling out everywhere?
- Are you setting sustainable and good goals for yourself as well as measuring yourself and your personal success with metrics that are solid, honest, and worthy? Suggestion: Craft and adhere to your OWN values, because most of society’s generic ones (IE be the most attractive person; be the most wealthy person; be the most popular person) are fucking stupid.
After careful thought, my three big goals in life are to:
- Empower + lessen the suffering of others (animals + humans, in that order)
- Create art that is honest and meaningful (stories and songs)
- Appreciate and savor beautiful experiences — like sipping on lattes, petting German Shepherds, going on adventures, and walking hand-in-hand with another human being. Could be Audio, but probably not. I wish Aziz Ansari was single and not quite so famous…
PS (a few hours later from a brewery I biked over to): Pic below = my fav page so far. Accurately describes why my 5-year relationship worked so well (he was the fire starter and I always loved putting them out).