One of the altars at which I worship when I am distracting myself from life is an online game of Backgammon. I love Backgammon for its perfect mix of random luck in the throw of a pair of dice, and the strategic skill needed to use that dice roll to best effect, in the context of the whole game and the current status of the game board. I've noticed lately that how I define a "great" game determines how much I enjoy myself, even in the solitary version of this game where interaction is only with a set of algorithms.
I’ve seen a rising tide of meanness in this country this year. Not meanness as in the miserly pinching of pennies; this is a pinching of the heart. The limits of some individuals’ compassion are being drawn very narrowly, very close to the bone of “me and mine.” I believe that this meanness derives from three core beliefs: 1) there is only so much; 2) it’s not enough for everyone; and 3) it’s okay to blithely let others go without, if I have enough for me.
For many of us, this is a time for courage. And not just the courage that leads us to take action while afraid. Yes, that courage is needed. And we also need a few fistfuls of the courage of vulnerability. We need many bucketsful of the courage to engage in direct dialog, using effective communication. We need a semi-truckload of the courage to make mistakes. And we need a Grand Canyon full of the courage to own those errors, apologize, and make amends where needed.
All my remembered life, I’ve gotten the message that I am too big and need to be smaller. I got the message that I was too big in a variety of ways: I took up too much psychological space (shhh! Let other people talk!), and too much intellectual space (don’t be such a know-it-all!), and too much emotional space (don’t be so dramatic; calm down!). Most importantly, though, and at the foundation of it all, were the messages that I took up too much physical space.
Last night, I attended a community meeting to prepare for the St. Louis Women’s March on the 21st of this month. I watched the group process unfold, observing each person's body language, facial expressions, and tones of voice, as well as the words spoken. Predictably, a race-related verbal scuffle broke out within the first 10 minutes.
This evening I am humbled by feedback about the positive impact of my work with the 7 Childhood Treasures. Oh, crap. Do I sound like the incredible narcissist, Mrs. Elton, in Emma? “I do not profess to be an expert in the field of fashion (though my friends say I have quite the eye)....”