I’m often amazed at the way things fall into place. Part of that is a willingness to look for serendipity. Last night I was invited to an event with GenArt at Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel. I love what GenArt does. They live out the active study of humanities by incubating emerging talent in film, art, music and fashion until they are ready to be launched and are able to fly on their own. I love what they do.
On my way to the hotel, I was struck by the beauty of the setting sun and the many shades painted in the clouds. I ended up in a turn lane and on Mulholland Drive instead of staying on Laurel Canyon. The timing of what I saw and the spot I was able to pull into left me in perfect position for a breathtaking view of the sunset. There’s something about the ability of clouds to hold so much magic.
It was a long day and at the end of it, I needed a nudge from a couple of friends to go to the event. I wanted to go because I wanted to show up for my friend and steal a hug from her. I wanted to enjoy grown up moments. I wanted to enjoy the screening and be surrounded in the magic of the Hollywood I wanted to be part of in my early 20’s but don’t have the stamina for now.I wanted to shmooze with the fun crowd, although I never bothered to fake a persona, as I’m more comfortable as myself. I felt guilt about postponing my reunion with my boys who were back from 5 days with their Dad. My niece was with them as she gets them after school, but I was asking for a few hours longer, and feeling guilt about it.
In the end, I did what I wanted to do, which was sit poolside. I accepted that the nudge I sought from friends wasn’t permission or an opinion I was asking for as much as I needed them to soothe my guilt over the moment I wanted and felt selfish about. I remembered that guilt is manufactured by me and a choice. I knew my kids wouldn’t care if I was home as long as they had quiet and food and for a few hours I could enjoy myself and come home energized. I did.
At the event, I had the honor of meeting David who embodied everything a great mentsch should. He was decent, authentic and straight up. We talked for a couple of hours and there were waves of clarity from the perspective he helped me shift. Our conversation started with how I know the owners of GenArt. I told him about the MITT Basic class I took and how moved I was at my friend’s steadfast belief in me. She believed in me so much that she enrolled a friend of hers into the idea of putting down my deposit for the course. She had no idea if I would go or pay her back, but she believed in me and it was a huge gift to me. I get to take the Advanced class next week, and while I haven’t met my goal, I’m believing it will all work out because things always do. David pointed out that showing up is catalyst enough. He told me to show up and give of myself, but that even givers must be discriminating. I need to know that I’m worthy, and give to those I find worthy. He asked why I wouldn’t assume others would want to help me. He asked me to not base my expectations on what happened in my marriage. We spoke openly about life.
David sipped his bourbon as I sipped a club soda with lime, and he looked me in the face and asked if I was prepared for his honesty. I was. I didn’t even have to check my inner voice because in that moment I felt self love that was profound. I felt his kindness reaching out to me in a way that was gentle and giving. He gave me a word: Worthy. He told me I needed to make it a mantra until I no longer need to remind myself that I am worthy.
He gave me a story about an unlicked cub. A mother would have only so much energy for licking her many cubs that there is one that would get neglected. I was in some ways an unlicked cub and I need to internalize that I am worthy. Even if that is something I might have a hard time seeing.
As we continued talking I gave him a word that had been given to me by a really incredible woman. Several months ago we were talking about my first crush since my ex and the looks we exchanged. I gave him a look of hunger when I didn’t mean to. He looked at me like ice cream on a cheat day. Yet, there was distance and space that would never be breached. She told me he needed to work out his mishegas. Of course, my second crush would follow the same patterns of wanting more, but not enough to want more and the same crazy back and forth happened until it didn’t. What struck me last night was that I missed the other part of what she told me. We attract what we are or who needs what we have. She pointed out that my giving nature would provide me with someone who needs me to take care of them and that I had enough on my plate. What she was too kind to mention was that the mishegas I was seeing in him was a reflection of my own. Last night I realized that through my marriage and now as a woman who is not divorced and yet single, I am in my own state of mishegas.
For so long as a wife, I did what my version of someone else’s expectations of me were. I failed their expectations and mine. Now I kinda do what feels right and I have a happier home because of it. But there’s the whole dating thing. Legally I’m still married. In every other sense I’m single. I really like being single too. I do so much that I enjoy and I’ve had enough bad dates recently to feel like I want to know my day won’t be wasted with bad company. If I do find myself entertaining the idea of a relationship, it’s never with the natural progression of cohabitation. I don’t want something that looks like living together and meeting families. David gave me sound advice, and I’m figuring out what it means to me. He said the longest distance for a man to travel is the lean in to kiss a woman, and it doesn’t take much to convince him not to lean in. I’ve known my confidence can be intimidating, but hearing it in such a fatherly way really gave me enough pause to consider my more predatory moments.
As we talked I realized I was getting comfortable. I’ve heard so many dreamers imagine being rich, but their life looks like it does every single day. For a while, every ounce of thought and energy went into plans and goals, and I’ve gotten comfortable with doing a job I love to the point that I wasn’t really looking at it to see if it’s the right place for me in the long term. I stopped dreaming and for a while I was just setting moderate goals. As we talked about my career, he asked me to think of what I could do that would allow me to give, but also to give in a way that the people I give to would be able to give further. That was a profound moment for me. It’s not enough to hand granola bars to homeless people camped out by freeways. I need to give in such a way that those receiving would be able to make my gift grow.
There was so much that we talked about and so much of himself that he shared with me. The night of being in the moment was a gift. I didn’t worry about my kids (they were taken care of by my niece). I didn’t worry about work. As much as I love it, I’m not essential to my position and I don’t need to prioritize it when I’m off. That thought could be terrifying, but I take it as freedom. My love life was just as stunted and stalled before the night as after it. As I left, I had a hard time remembering much of what was said, but the feeling he left me with was profound and resonated in hollow parts I didn’t know were emptied. I got home to a loving message from a friend based on a silly Instagram video I took on my lunch. I went to bed not only content but happy.