My laughter was bordering on obnoxious, people were starting to look at us, but I didn’t care. We didn’t care. The young man was an incoming first year student and stopped by my table in the student union building. “I’m very glad to see this,” he said. I smiled and nodded at the wide eyed stocky ebony young man in front of me, trying to place his accent, wondering if he was Haitian as his last name suggested he may be. “I was worried,” he continued. My smile turned to my inner counselor tell me more face, and was followed up with an “Oh no, tell me more about what made you worried?” He lowered his voice, leaned over the table, and said “I don’t know how to say this, but well it’s here, and there’s me, and people…” I smiled and nodded. “You know what I’m trying to say !” he exclaimed. I did, as he scanned the room and stopped whispering. We both laughed and laughed, paused, and laughed again. We shook hands and he went on his way. His unedited honesty in that moment was refreshing. My own unedited honesty in that moment was refreshing.
The day went on, there were more students, families, and colleagues who stopped by, but that moment with him was the highlight for me. That moment of truth, the breached wall of vulnerability to ask on his part to be and seek truth and my breached wall to respond in kind was better than the friendly banter with coworkers, the flirtatious dads and hovering moms, the over stimulated sign up for everything students, and certainly better than the hours spent providing edited responses to everyone and anyone else who stopped by my little nook in the student union building.
As a person who has this thing about looking at people and situations holistically, whose on a quest to be and be engaged as a whole person, I revel in unedited opportunities. I revel in the unfiltered, unfinished, all the cards on the table (even the jokers), all the broken pieces in heaping pile in the center of the room or center of our lives. I should really say, I’ve recently come to revel in the unfiltered, unfinished, all the cards on the table (even the jokers), all the broken pieces in heaping pile in the center of the room or center of our lives. For years I as very lets leave the past, not right now, and the future out of this. It’s not connected to right now, that decision doesn’t really have much to do with today, keep it moving, next please. The only exception would be my work as a counselor with others. I’d absolutely give them permission to explore how their past and thoughts about the future connected to their present. I just wasn’t so awesome at doing that for myself. I digress.
Here’s what I’m learning from my own life, from reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown, the Bible, having read Fight Back with Joy by Margaret Feinberg, slowing down enough to gather or talk and not text a few close friends and family members, the edited version gives us an illusion that leaves us in denial about its fragility and forgets to remind us it is easily shattered by the beauty, strength, magnitude, and awe of the whole. The edited version offers what we think want, while the whole offers us what we undoubtedly need and our soul longs for.
I spent a full hour this weekend curating and editing a little over 3500 pictures on my iPhone. I had to choose 85 to print for free, which to upload to my computer to save and which ones to delete. It took an hour. Yet, as I scrolled through, there were pictures from my amazing birthday celebration last year, MAC makeovers in Manhattan with one of my favorite work friends, thanksgiving which would be the last time I spoke to my grandmother before her death, Christmas, travel, visits from my sister and nephew, food from new recipes I tried, my youngest brother’s graduation- a collection of my life that had spanned almost a year and so easily reflected the unedited version of my life, the version of my life that speaks to the, love, joy, grace, and grit that has been woven into the fabric of who I am and refusing to let the challenges, changes, heartaches and heartbreaks unravel me. It provided clarity, room for thanksgiving, restoration, and gave way to hopefulness.
May your week bless you with opportunities to live unedited. And not unedited in a permission granted to hurt or harm others with thoughtless words or actions kind of way. Unedited in a way that allows all of you to show up bringing your truth, reality, experiences, hopes, quandaries, hesitations, and creativity. May their be no filter on the joy or the sorrow, the doubt or the belief, the process or the progress. May you have the blessing, even if brief and unplanned, of engaging with someone else who wants the whole truth (and you), and nothing but the whole truth (and you). May you have moments this week to see the big picture, the whole picture, the ways in which everything has worked and is working to create your simply LIVEd life.