Taking my armor off one piece at a time
I am an introvert. Of course, this comes as no surprise to my friends and family. I keep to myself most of the time. My work requires lots of interactions with lots of different people. When I’m “off duty” I cherish my alone time. I have been known to turn around and go the other way if I see someone I know somewhere. It has always seemed like just too much work to engage even with a simple hello. Though truth be told, I am afraid a simple hello will lead to a conversation. Yes, I’m that much of an introvert. I like at least the illusion of control of my interactions.
For about a month I have been trying something different. I am greeting pretty much everyone I see with a very friendly Hello! Sometimes even followed by things like, great morning isn’t it? Or isn’t it a lovely day? In fact one day last week I started a whole conversation with a person in the check out line about the Apple-Ahhh-Rita she was buying. Asking if it was good which led to a brief but very pleasant conversation.
There is a reason for this change in my very entrenched behavior. I had been asking myself what could I do in light of all the awful things I was reading and hearing about in the news. I had been feeling overwhelmed with anger, sadness, and hopelessness. What could one person do? I went to a rally in support of Michael Brown. I checked out from the library The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. I posted some things on Facebook. I educated myself more about Gasa. But honestly, while those are all really good things to do, they also didn’t do much in terms of lifting me up.
I needed hope; I needed to feel a part of something positive. I found myself putting on my old community-building hat and thinking maybe part of the problem is we so often forget we are all part of one large global community. That we are more alike than we are different. So I began greeting people I didn’t know as if I really saw them. It lightens my heart just thinking about the reactions. With very few exceptions the greetings have been returned in the same spirit. In many ways it sounds like such a small thing, but I can tell you this, it has lifted my spirits and I have seen it put real smiles on other peoples faces, smiles that reach all the way to their eyes. These connections, they give me hope and strength.
I am taking my armor off one piece at a time, because if I’m honest with myself I don’t need that armor. What I really need are the interactions that come when there is no armor at all.
*** I would love to see you at our weekend next month – Pandora: The Cost and the Gift. October 17-19. Only 12 spots left for what is promising to be an intense weekend of individual growth, the gift of knowing, and focused magical work towards healing on a personal, communal, and societal level.
This post was written by Elizabeth Wilson