Girl In Hiding

If I showed you who I want to be – showed you the stuff that makes my heart sing – you might laugh, and I would be regretful for exposing myself.  So I choose not to show you.  I keep my dreams, beautiful dreams, in a cocoon where they are safe.    I would rather hide them and protect them than risk losing them to ridicule.

I don’t dare to show you who I am inside because it’s the only part of me that I believe is beautiful.  And I don’t want you to tell me otherwise.  I’m afraid that if you see the real me, you won’t see the perfection and then I’ll have a decision to make – to believe your opinion or my own.  And, well, I haven’t always been convinced that my opinion of myself is accurate.  Because it’s hard to tell who’s right.

The me inside, way down deep, hasn’t been found out, not completely.  But sometimes it leaks out.  It can’t help itself.  It sees its reflection in a word, a thought, a loving expression, and it can’t contain all its beauty.  So it speaks or writes or sings or dances.  It wants nothing more than to share its magical vision.

Sometimes, when the beauty escapes, people say ‘ah’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘you are so wonderful.’  But the beauty is shy.  It scares easily.  It hasn’t learned to trust the world.  If the world sees how great it is, the world will demand more, on a schedule, and will expect its money’s worth.  The heart will learn to expect too.  And demand from itself.  And the heart will have to deliver even when it wants to rest in the quiet of its cocoon where it can hear the truth and replenish.

The heart can’t see clearly when people crowd around telling it this and that.  So it stumbles, and worries that people will be disappointed .  Maybe they’ll say, ‘You’re not so beautiful after all.’ And the heart’s fear will have been confirmed.

It’s safer then, to stay hidden inside.

I Hope You Dance

Almost daily I cross paths with the same woman.  I don’t know her name or anything about her.  I do, however, gather plenty of assumptions about her – through my astute observations, of course.

To judge the woman by her physical appearance, one might fear that she is malnourished.  Her brittle hair and bony skeleton are blatant cues.  In fact, everything about her persona suggests frailty – the way she avoids eye contact, the slumped shoulders, the baggy clothing.  My thoughts about her concern me.

I worry about this woman I’ve never spoken to.  I wonder about the circumstances of her misery.  Is she abused?  Has she endured an unspeakable tragedy?  Is she terminally ill?  Surely, she has suffered.  I want to help but I decide to respect her solitude and hope that she somehow absorbs my silent blessings for her well-being.

I have pegged this woman to a wall of misery.  With deep regret, I’ve pitied her, or rather, my impression of her.  Until today.

Today I saw the woman through the glass doors of a room.  She was alone and didn’t know anyone could see her.  But I saw her.  Really saw her for the first time.  And she was dancing!  My frumpy, forlorn, fabulous friend was dancing like no one was watching.  She was energized and confident and carefree and not at all like the woman I ‘knew.’

I smiled a great big huge smile in spite of myself.  Because I was dead wrong – again. She wasn’t lifeless or hopeless or helpless.  She just looked that way, to me, on the outside.  And I let the outside inform me about the inside, which is such a rookie move.

I gazed at the dancing woman for as long as I dared, transfixed like a child watching a music box dancer.  I wanted desperately to tell her how she helped me find my happy today.  But I feared that she might be self-conscious and stop dancing – forever.  So I settled on telling you, because I had to share my gratitude with someone.  And I thought, maybe, it would inspire you to start dancing or to keep dancing even if you know someone’s watching.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

 ‘I Hope You Dance’ by Lee Ann Womack

Dance on, my friends, dance on.




I know a man who needs a lot of attention.  His wife tells me he was deprived of emotional connection as a child.  Together, the wife and I play psychologist because the neediness drives her crazy.  We devise theories and solutions that are as useless as our self-appointed PhDs.  Although our ideas fail to ‘fix’ the man, we – like good doctors – never stop trying.

That is, until today, when I stumbled upon this quote:

Humans need attention like plants need light.

The logic stopped me dead.  I’m no gardening expert, but I (and every second grader) know that plants need light to survive.  Good ‘ole photosynthesis being a critical process and all.  I also know that some plants are shade lovers and others thrive in the sun.

Applying my new metaphor to people, it would follow that some people do fine with just a little attention and others crave it.  Thinking of it this way makes a little space for what we would otherwise call neediness.  After all, we don’t approach the sun-loving plants and lay blame: ‘How dare you soak up so much sun?!’  We don’t criticize these plants for wanting what makes them thrive any more than we criticize the ones who prefer the shade.  We just give them what they need if we want them to survive.

Perhaps, a wife could, instead of trying to change a husband into a shade-sustainable plant, just give him lots of light (i.e. attention).

I immediately shared my new revelation with friend who thought it was brilliant – our best one yet.  After enjoying a laugh at our own expense, we concluded that it was never husband who needed fixing, it was us!

Elementary my dear Watson.  Elementary.

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”    – Wayne Dyer

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