I Love Everyone, and My Stupid Face

I love everybody, and you’re next.
This is a description Kristen Bell gave about her husband, Rob Bell, and it encapsulates everything I want to express in my walks around town and country. It’s like a motto for my walks.
Prior to that motto, I was shut off, in all the usual ways: underneath my earbuds, below my bad moods, too cool, too depressed, hidden by shame, at arm lengths for fear of pain, absolutely sure no one cared, and more, or even worse. Essentially, I was doing what many other people are doing and thinking around town.

Now, I want to meet people. I want to hear stories, talk, converse, and share; and so, I love everybody, and you’re next. Generally, the results of such an attitude are I seem to attract more conversations, and enjoy my time more. I make more friends.
It doesn’t make anything easier, it’s just a different way of relating. I learned this a couple weekends ago. I was downtown for an event. It started at 9am, so I got there about 7:30, to walk around and do what I do, wayfaring. I don’t get deep into the city much these days. I’m a borderlands guy. I like living on the edge of the city, and head to the country for weekends and fun. Inside the city, my song doesn’t sing the same, or so I once believed.
I walked the downtown sidewalks, and there were sparrows walking around too. Darting into traffic to peck at black, greasy somethings, and I thought, what are we doing here, but that’s the old me, right. I decided to be open to the experience and see what happens, like the little birds. I love everybody, and you’re next, so show me what you got, City.

I found some new murals, and got to know the new and old shops again, and everyone was waking up, jogging or hunting down breakfast. The morning was feeling rosy. I bent over the curb checking out little plants growing in the cracks of concrete, a favorite activity of mine. A jogger whizzes by, and I turn to watch him, and he passes a lady, carrying a filthy baby blue blanket, and counting change. “Got any change!” she barks at the jogger, who didn’t stop to notice and kept on running. She cursed after him a bit, but kept walking my way, counting her change.
I stood up, and turned to face her, because she was coming my way. Her cursing after the guy made me a little wary. I used to walk the streets of West Campus when I was younger and had many encounters with beggars and people on the street. I checked my pockets to find I had no change. I took a deep breath and thought, let’s see what happens. I’m open.
We stopped in front of each other. “Got any change,” she asked, still going through the coins and bills in her hands, though we were facing each other. “Sorry, I don’t have any change,” I shrugged. She looked up at me. We looked into each other’s eyes, and I smiled, and thought, Hey, we’re about to have a conversation. A moment passed. We studied each other’s eyes and face for a moment, and then her face contorted, and changed. “Why are you still looking at me? Why are you still looking at me with your big stupid face?!”
My only reply, “It’s all I got.” But that didn’t slow her down. She was gaining momentum and rising to a fevered pitch. “Bitch! Get your stupid face out of mine…” and her rant was in full force. I was standing there, taking it in, still in half shrug from what felt like an apology for my stupid face. “It’s all I got,” I said again, and realized the best thing to do was walk away. I turned and there was another lady that I had spoken to briefly earlier in the walk. Her eyes were wide, and staring at me in what seemed like disbelief. I shrugged to her too, and said it again, “It’s all I got.” I looked back, and the lady was still going off on me, though I was no longer there.

That encounter stuck with me for days. At the event later that morning, I spoke about the situation to a couple people. They were talking about how hurt people hurt people, and I shouldn’t take it personally. I know not to take it personally. I don’t know what she is mirroring off of me. I don’t know her life, or situation. I know most people are hurt, and I know not all hurt people hurt people. I don’t know. I think part of it was an ego hit. Sadly. Someone called my face stupid, and that hurts. Silly but true.
Maybe I broke the unspoken rule that the jogger knows. We don’t look at each other, and if I’m not giving up cash, then pass on by.
But I think the bigger pain of it was, hey, I love everyone and I was open, and it didn’t go well. It wasn’t easy, and I got hurt.
Duh. There was never the promise of easier, just a different way of relating to the world. Dukkha, either way. Strangely, this came up again and again at the event, where other people talked about whatever new thing they were doing, and seemed to assume that by doing it, things would be easier. I don’t think such a thing exists. No matter what, this is the world we’re been given. You can learn to deal with it better, relate to it deeper, love everyone, and feel the wonder and peace of all things, but it isn’t going to be pain free, nor easier. If it is, sweet grace to you.


Other Notes:
Plateau on the weight front. Hanging in around 230. Routine is basically the same.

Finished Mary Oliver’s “Why I Wake Early,” and it was wonderful. I need a new morning book. Thought it’d be, “I Asked for Wonder,” an anthology of Abraham Joshua Heschel, but that may be an all-day book, and not just a morning book. I may look for some poetry. Short poems fit that time and space best. I meditate, yoga, write some morning pages, recite the poem, “School Prayer” and watch the sunrise. Poems fit that better than a book, I think.
Working on so much, about to come around the bend. There will be an explosion of output soon. I’ve learned a lot of new software, to complete a couple of projects, and it’s been slow going, but I’m rounding a bend, and I expect more output soon.

Lastly, I hope to meet some people interested in walking meditation and/or group meditation out in some places I know. I’m not sure how to bring that together, but I think I can. More to come.

P.S. I already love, Abraham Joshua Heschel.

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