Stealth Moves for Typical Fools: the art of hardly ever being wrong

Ever make a false assumption and then feel like an idiot? Ever jump to a conclusion based on an idea that wasn’t even real?

I have, and it has hurt me and anyone who noticed. I’m a smart woman, but sometimes I get inflated and impulsive and then here we go, stupid is happening.

Sure, it is likely all humans do it. But let’s be real here, some people do it far more often than others. My conscious goal recently is to stop doing it altogether. Like forever. Thus, I am gratefully learning how.

From the other side of this experience, I have noticed that there are certain bits of personal information I no longer dole out thoughtlessly, since the average bear will jump to several conclusions, and they are almost always either wildly untrue or so oversimplified I just shut down or rudely roll my eyes, depending on my investment in the relationship.

For example, try telling someone you are (or were) an English teacher. They instantly bring their own insecurities into it, cover their mouth lest any grammatical errors escape, and presume my mission is to find fault in their speech. “I guess I better watch how I talk!”

In reality, it would be an extreme exception for me to correct anyone, even an actual student, unless it was in the act of a lesson. Yes, I notice language flaws because my brain is conditioned to do so, but mostly I just note whether I like the person aside from this fact. Some of my favorite people are not literary, nor eloquent, and I might find comfort in their casual language or even in their vulgarities. Speaking properly is impressive, but honestly, it isn’t even that common.

Additionally, there is the little fun fact that I have been divorced four times. When the truth comes out, I am pained to field the reactions, but worst of all are the fools that think they now know me, and that they, in all of their epic wisdom, would know better. Wise people seem to realize there is a six novel series of information they could not know, what came before the marriages, what happened in each separate one, and what has happened since. Most fools ask me why, as if the sum total of my life experience with love can be reduced to a singular sentence, to satisfy their sense of fantastic expedition. Or they conclude that I am clearly not meant to be married. Or they decide I have used up my love tokens and am better off never loving again, since I am the same woman now as I have always been.

And therein lies the ticket. Wanting to know more. So I have learned by my own painful feelings of being misunderstood that I too can easily misunderstand others. I am not above it. And I humbly confess it takes some real spiritual work to change it.

Recently, my dear friend and I have been sharing some deep memories of our childhood perceptions birthed from a multitude of sources. I was stunned by the private thoughts she has carried all these years. I suddenly saw her in a new light, and I felt a newer, deeper compassion for her. All those years, seeing her one way, and basing it on partial information.

It was humbling to learn more and I was honored she took the time to say it.

Yet, part of my spiritual journey is to make more space for people to say these things. To be calmer and quieter and really allow the safety to grow.

Secondly, I am learning how to share bravely in a way that does not reek of self-righteousness or blame or shame, but to openly model the act of risk within the dignified and sacred privacy of a safe circle. This, too, increases mutual expression.

Finally, the willingness to ask a question not for rhetorical fodder, but for authentically hoping to learn more of a person’s experience, for their own understanding of themselves, to honestly just listen and gain a truer perspective of their story and their emotional results.

Possibly, I would say aloud, “I am not asking to judge it. I am asking to know more, to understand.”

I word the questions carefully. I don’t ask, “Why did you do that?” Instead I ask. “Can you tell me about that choice?”

I don’t ask, “Do you think or feel this way, since I would?” Instead I ask, “How do you feel about that?”

I don’t ask, “Did you notice how that person behaved?” Instead I ask, “How did you experience that person’s behavior?”

That is how I have learned that people tend to know themselves better than I know them, and it is not about seeing through them. It is about coming to know them the way they hope to be seen, the essence of their right to be understood, as well as the innocence behind so many actions and values. It seems like the world has a shortage of that lately.

According to Saint Francis, it is better “to understand than to be understood.” But I would suggest: By seeking to understand others, we come to better understand ourselves.

Sharing openly without dominating. Asking mindful questions. Listening with objectivity. Knowing that false humility is only pretending to be small, but truly humble people see the potential of another person’s voice, another person’s view.

Indeed, I have often been the brave fool, leaping into chasms of unknown space. Today, I fling myself into the abyss of hidden knowledge, searching for the stories of others, and I aim to climb out with armloads of pure agape love.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Two of a Six-part Series – The Pitch

I made a decision to date online!

I made it clear to my suitors what I was generally seeking, and to be fair, I thought it a reasonable list.

I perused a handful of men and their profiles. I found a lot of the same thing: mediocrity with a side of conventional. Lots of men who liked to watch sports. I don’t watch sports.

Some men made it clear that if they were not moving, working, racing, climbing, sailing, skiing, biking, traveling and smiling every minute of every day, they might possibly implode.

A few gentle souls took the time to write something witty and intellectual. Now we are getting closer. Wait. Are those his arms under all that fabric? Why only three pics and all with his adult daughter? Hmmmmm…..

It was time to write my profile and lure in these big fish!

It was time for The Pitch! The Great Reveal! The Unfurling of this Delicate Moonflower….well, I mean, come on. I still had some good in me, despite a shattered heart all glued back together.

Er, ummm….I am worthy; I am certain of it.

I was at least more than worthy of the guy that posted a single 1970’s cabin pic of his frizzy grey hair, which shot out in all directions past the frame of the photo, beer in hand atop his table-sized belly, a grumpy mustache over missing teeth.

Maybe he would love me if no one else was up for it.

Sometimes these rough and belching sorts would actually incite an abrupt and singular “Ha!’ from my mouth, and then I would wrestle the internal beast of hopelessness to the ground, and settle into building my profile: What can I tell you about me to help you see why I am a good choice?!

This went on for hours. Write…delete…write…delete…ugh. I shut it down and ate a large helping of Rocky Road ice cream. Would they want me if I gained weight? Should I not eat now that I am dating online? Would it be wrong to post photos from 8 years ago? Is that photo too slutty? If I post my motorcycle, will they expect me to ‘ride or die’?

I went for a walk. I sat by the stream on that big rock where all my best thinking occurs. I wasn’t so sure now. Maybe I will only attract the nerdy ones who lack the ability to read social cues. Or the men that “don’t have time to read.” Or some con man that thinks he can move in and scam me out of the fifty bucks I have in my account. Or someone who likes really bad country music.

I walked back.

I remembered then what has worked for me when I had to stand in front of a classroom of teenagers while they gave me the once over, chomped their gum and whispered with superior smirks. I used the power of my imagination. I imagined huge white goddess wings (sometimes black if I am in a dark mood) flinging out from my back and standing at full spread behind me.

Maybe you should mess with me now, Smart One.

Then I spelled out one key at a time, as authentically as possible, who I really am. Why waste one minute pitching a lie? I was 54. Time was ticking.

I shared as many details as I could to imply the truth of me, the inexplicable way I laugh when I am alone, the way I paint with old students, the silence of the woods, how I burn mugwort on a dark moon, and Deadpool is my movie. I needed a man who was unafraid of me. And the truth is I was different. I didn’t fit into most boxes. And I decided that would be my thing. Pretty, cool, witchy weirdo seeking fun, smart, sexy man-weirdo. Straight up Psychos need not apply.

I saved the fact that I am in addiction recovery for our first phone call, but I did note up front that I don’t drink.

I would save the four divorces for a momentous height of intuitive courage. It wasn’t going to be easy being me. I could see that. Just the thought of explaining my past made me want to take a nap.

I kept in mind that I was voted Most Interesting twice. Someone will get me. Fuck it.