Cool Girls Ride in Convertibles
I have experienced a lot in my life and traveling has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. From diverse cultures, with different backgrounds, all with unique life circumstances in the present moment. But there is also so much I have missed out on. Experiences and connections I have actively chosen not to have. And up until this point, that has been okay with me. Keeping myself closed off from experiencing more. From opening up and really connecting with those around me. But I can no longer go on living like this. Let me explain.
I was recently watching one of my favorite movies, “Waking Life,” and there is a scene in it that really opened my eyes. In the movie, a guy and a girl walk past each other on the street without saying anything to each other. The girl then stops and turns around. She walks back up to him and says the following.
“Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant, you know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on ant auto-pilot with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive here. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this any colony buzzing along in an efficient polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?” “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw, I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be an ant, you know?”
I actually think about this often. As I am standing in an elevator. A stranger standing next to me. Both of us just standing there. In silence. Failing to acknowledge one another. Or as I am walking along on the street. People passing by all around me. Each of us in our own heads with our own thoughts. Living our own lives. We walk around like zombies. Keeping to ourselves and avoiding real moments of human connection.
NO. NO. NOT HELLO!
A few weeks ago. In Bali. I am sitting outside on the porch at my guesthouse. There is another porch directly across, on the other side of the pool. Facing mine. A guy walks out and sits down to smoke a cigarette. We are minding our own business. Sitting there in silence. Aware of each other’s presence. But choosing to stay separate. There is a moment when I look up at him. I then see his head slowly start to look up at me as well. We are about to make eye contact but at the last second, I look away. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him hold his gaze on me for a few moments longer. As if there is something he is about to say. Like he is about to recognize my presence out loud. With a simple hello. But I avoid it. For some reason, I turn away instead of giving him that chance. He gathers his things, stands up, and walks back inside. The moment is gone. All it had to be was a simple smile. A hello. So that we could both feel alive. But I didn’t give him that. I didn’t give that to myself.
My memories are too often made up of these types of moments. Moments when I wanted to open up but chose not to. Flashes of me choosing not to participate. Not letting people in. The times I decided to stay silent when all I had to do was look at someone for one more second, let someone see who I am. Show them a small part of me. Let them show me a small part of them. All I had to do was say something. Anything. But I didn’t.
IF A STRANGER OFFERS YOU CANDY, YOU DON'T HAVE TO EAT IT
We are all living this life together but choosing to keep ourselves separated. But as human beings, don’t we all just want to be acknowledged? To feel like we exist? Like we belong? To not have to go through this life experiencing our troubles alone? To even feel like we are noticed and appreciated? Maybe even loved? So why do we continue to walk around avoiding the very thing we crave?
The more I think about this, the more I believe that we have unconsciously become conditioned to be this way from the time we are children. One of the first things we are told is, “Do not talk to strangers.” Of course as children, this is a beneficial thing to learn. To keep us safe. But as we grow older, we hold on to this same mentality. Still to keep us safe, but from different things.
To avoid rejection. Or to avoid having to reject others. Or because we are too busy. We can’t talk to everyone so we talk to no one. Or because we simply don’t know what to say. Whatever the reason, becoming aware of all of the moments I have chosen to stay hidden has finally shown me a part of myself that has been conditioned to live in fear. A wall I have subconsciously built. A side of myself that is sabotaging so many potential connections with the people around me. I have been protecting myself. Trying to stay safe. Even though now I am old enough to know that if a stranger offers me candy, that doesn’t mean I have to eat it.
A HOT GUY TALKED TO ME BECAUSE I SMILED
The most introverted person (me) will still tell you that some of their happiest moments are those shared with another individual or group of individuals. This is true for most, if not all, of us. And what I have learned is that how we open ourselves up to the world is directly related to how the world opens up to us in return.
In Bali, the day after I avoided confrontation with the guy on the porch, I am walking along the road next to the ocean. Aware of the moment the previous day, I consciously decide to make an effort. As I walk down the path, I see a guy standing next to his bike up ahead of me. As I walk by, I smile and say hello. I keep walking but then hear a voice behind me. I turn around and see him catching up to me. He asks where I am from. We start talking and I notice that he is actually quite good looking. We end up hanging out that night (and a few more 😉 ) and he mentions that the reason he talked to me initially was because I had smiled at him. He knew I was friendly. It was like the Universe rewarding me for trying. For getting out of my own head and letting someone in. Instead of choosing to stay hidden from the world.
COOL GIRLS RIDE IN CONVERTIBLES
This brings me to another memory I have from when I was about eight years old. A single moment that I will never forget. I am sitting in the back of my parent’s car at a stop light. Next to us, there is a group of pretty girls all sitting in a red convertible, talking and laughing. They are much older than me. Seem much cooler than me since I am just a kid. Suddenly, one of them stops talking and looks over at me. For an instant, I want to hide because she has caught me watching them. But at that moment, she looks directly into my eyes and smiles at me. I smile back. The light turns green and we both go our separate ways.
It was a simple moment but one that has had a profound impact on my life. That cool girl took a few seconds out of her own life to stop and acknowledge my existence. How wonderful that made me feel. At eight years old. It showed me how powerful connection can be. How much we all need it. No matter what age we are.
We all have so many opportunities each day to connect with others in this way. To leave them feeling like I did that day in the car. We have the chance to make someone’s day tad bit brighter because we talk to them. Or ask them how they are doing. When someone is having a bad day or going through a tough time in their lives, we have the power to help them. Without even knowing anything about them. With a smile. Or maybe even a passing conversation.
I strongly believe that one of the reasons we go through tough things in life is because it gives us the chance to help others who may be going through a similar situation. To be their light, to let them know we can relate to them and have been there too. That we made it through, are okay, and that they will be okay as well. Or just to even remind them that they don’t have to go through this life alone. No one does.
I DON'T WANT TO BE AN ANT. I WANT TO BE A HUMAN.
I say from now on, we get out of our heads and consciously try to experience more of these human moments. Because when it comes down to it, our life experience is greatly enriched by our connections with other people. There is a poet, D.H. Lawrence, that talks about this idea, which they also reference in the “Waking Life” movie.
“It’s kind of like D.H. Lawrence had this idea of two people meeting on the road. And instead of just passing and glancing away, they decide to accept what he calls “the confrontation between their souls.” It’s like, um, freeing the brave reckless gods within us all.”
And I believe that he is absolute right. This is something we consciously need to remain aware of and strive to embrace. It is the collection of these small moments in my memories, where I have chosen to avoid connection, that I will now use to fuel my growth.
I can no longer go on hiding from people. Keeping myself hidden from the world. I can no longer walk around like an ant. I don’t want to be an ant. The journey could be too wonderful. I don’t want to have all of these memories of amazing experiences but walk away also remembering all of the moments I missed. Only experiencing half of what I could be. I want to experience this life with you. All of you. So now I strive to enrich my experience even more, by adding the depth of connection. I need it. And I have a feeling you do too.
Because when it comes down to it we are all in this together. Trying to do the same thing. Survive. In the best possible way we can. And we have the opportunity to help each other do this. Through awareness. And love. So next time we are out in the real world. Let’s make an effort to accept confrontation. By putting ourselves out there. Helping others put themselves out there too. Letting them know it is okay. And by doing this, freeing the brave reckless gods inside of us all.