Take Me As I Am – Whoever That May Be

 

 

 

There’s always a little voice inside my head that questions whether I’m good enough.  As I’ve gotten older (please note, I did not say “matured”), it occurs to me that I’ve got to get on the stick and kick this hefty can down the road and out of sight.  It’s rusty, dented and contains so much stuff that I will likely never resolve, so I might as well get rid of it.  Besides, I like the look of this guy…

It feels so defiant to say ‘take me as I am’.  So risky.  At least for me.  Of course it also suggests that I am completely sure who I am – and I guess that is sort of  a work-in-progress exercise.  I’ve never been an either/or person, the world to me is so resplendent with colors and shadings that absolutes are the bigger challenge (one exception – the words of one of my first bosses  “Today, you have full authority to do the right thing” – I try to remember that daily.  Other than that, all bets are off).

So despite my continued lack of personal clarity, I marvel at my friends who love me in spite of myself.  Jo and I go months without seeing each other and literally pick up conversations mid-sentence.  When we finally saw each other Friday night, all Andy could do was shake his head with a smile and say “I totally get it”.  I know her eyes, can see what they’re telling me; I can tell by what she doesn’t say, exactly what she wants to say.  This friendship from childhood provides a secure knowledge and confidence that the elemental aspects of who I am is understood on the most intrinsic level. Whether or not you are sure, someone with a historic reference  is sure I’m more than ok.  The joy of rediscovery.

The prism through which friendship is viewed, can be seen from a different perspective with new friends.  Carrie, Donna, Lori, Rhonda…I have been blessed with these women through serendipity (waiting for a manicure, Andy’s bowling team and through our blogs respectively).  As Carrie and I spoke yesterday over mediocre Greek salad (a nod to my Jenny Craig efforts – I am craving a milk shake about now), I realized how our friendship developed without pretense or guile – we passed those markers somewhere along the road and no longer have any patience for either.  I have connected with women who are wise and strong, experienced and romantic, tender and tough enough to have withstood their share of challenges and pain.  They don’t suffer fools, but they embrace you if you hurt.  They hug hard (figuratively and literally) and protect fiercely.  If I am defined in part by my newer friendships,  I’m feelin’ pretty damn good.  The joy of renewal.

The knowledge that I have gained from less-than-positive choices runs deep and is beginning to hurt less.  Learning the difference between providing a service to someone v. sharing in a friendship is a tough lesson for me to absorb.  This first year away from the firm has been painful in that regard.  On the one hand I am surprised at myself – I know a little bit about human behavior, what drives office dynamics and what distinguishes mutual understanding –  ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’  – from friendship.  I was unceremoniously dropped and the pain of landing on my butt was unexpected.  A year later, I wish I had chosen to be the one who walked away.  I certainly would have felt more graceful.

How cool to still have the time and luxury of finding me – if I choose to look – and to do so with the confidence that I may never know?  Better still is the feeling that I can look around and find the best, most flattering definition I will ever seek.   My friends.

The Beauty That Is Us

..all of us.  I spent more minutes than I care to admit just marveling at these pictures this morning.  How can we look in the eyes of another human being and not feel connected to them somehow?  We love our families; want the next generation to enjoy a more peaceful, prosperous, kinder world; we value our traditions and celebrate love in a myriad of ways.   Our faces tell a story, our culture gives it context.  And each one of us weaves a story that is unique, marvelous, heartbreaking, celebratory.  I look in these eyes and I wonder – what is the story?   And though I may never know each and everyone, I believe with all my heart that there would be more that I would understand than not.

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday

Oh Al I swear, you’re a genius!  Even before ‘multi-tasking’ became part of the social lexicon, you were decrying its effectiveness.  Good on you big guy, and lucky for the woman you were kissing in the car.  Better to pull over and focus.  A taboo idea I know – doing one thing at a time and getting it right.

When I was at the firm, he who juggled the most balls in the air without dropping any, won.  Yes, there were migraines, emotional short-circuits, missed anniversaries and birthdays – but man, could people juggle conference calls, client meetings, intra-office drama, toggling between dual monitors in their offices while checking Blackberries and texting on their iPhones.  Conversations – if that is what one chooses to call them – were stolen in the Starbucks line, or in fifteen minute intervals, or checked in a box.

You’re right – balls got dropped.  Perhaps not the ones that determine the size of a year-end bonus, and most assuredly not those that would compromise the zealous representation of one’s clients.

I spent a lot of time with people who had dropped the other stuff along the way – without thinking that the ramifications would be so profound.  The parent who routinely watched her daughter play in a sports tournament while emailing on her iPad and chairing a conference call and genuinely fretting because she and her child weren’t close; the husband who couldn’t reconcile the wonderful woman he had married with the raging, angry alcoholic she had become – for she had never shown any signs.  The affair that grew over time because neither person was ever home long enough for intimacy and friendship to grow roots there – though they insisted they tried.  They didn’t intend for this to happen.  The thrown blood clot that resulted from excessive time on planes and trains.  The pseudo-friendships that ended up defining one’s inner circle because there was no time to cultivate genuine loving relationships, and the resulting  isolation and loneliness that prompted yet another script for antidepressants.  The young associate who wept in my office upon discovering that this brass ring for which she had sacrificed much was not what she thought it would be and didn’t want to ride the carousel anymore – but for the enormous debt, mortgage and car payments.

No signs?  Really?

I didn’t judge it then, I’m not judging it now.  I do find the sincere disbelief…well, surprising.  We all struggle to do the right thing in the face of competing demands and increasing competition.  But what do you want to win?  And who are you kidding if you think that everything you are juggling has equal weight and heft, allowing you to balance it all equally?  The reality is that those weights change and morph according to time and circumstance.  Sacrifices will be made and balls will drop – that’s the reality.  There is also this inalienable truth – you have to decide what to focus on, what values you will only compromise so much and how to give the people you love the best of who you are.  Maybe you should focus on that kiss.