Today after yoga was over and most people had gone, Vince, my trainer, stopped by to say hi and to give me a letter. As it turned out I had a card for him, too. It had the Rilke quote on it about living the questions.
He sat down in the Poang chair and read his card, which didn’t take long because, what I am going to add to Rilke, right?
But his letter took me a while to read. It was on a piece of notebook paper, ripped out. It was a gratitude/reflection letter in which he expressed how much he values our friendship. It was eloquent, as well as heart-felt.
I don’t think we can ever know how we show up to other people. I don’t think we can see ourselves as others see us, as much as we would like to.
“Do you SEE yourself??!!
I think I have some idea how I appear to others, I think I know what my personality is like, but then I get a letter like this, and I think: Oh, this is very different from how I feel inside and how I think I present in the world. It is extremely flattering though, and I wish I could identify more with the person he is describing in this letter, because these are very admirable qualities, indeed.
Or, alternately, I do recognize a piece of my personality in what they are praising, but I don’t see it through their particular lens.
They see me as finished, accomplished in the things they are admiring—things like my self-discipline, or my serenity, or my ability to pay attention, yet, in truth, I am always working to cultivate these attributes.
For example, Vince said that he admires how I resource myself before I meet with people. He was referring to my need to allow time between appointments to eat.
On Tuesdays I have a 1 o’clock appointment and our session doesn’t usually finish up until a little after noon. I am sensitive to the time on Tuesdays because I really do need to go home and eat before I meet my 1 o’clock client. If I don’t, I can’t be fully present for him because I am distracted by hunger.
The other thing he said about me is that I am quiet. This is something I continue to struggle with. I don’t think I am quiet at all! But I am working on it. In particular, I am working on being more comfortable with silence, and letting big gaps of silence grow in a conversation without immediately trying to fill them. I am trying to be patient with the awkwardness of long conversational lulls.
We drove over to the Health food store in Wellsboro together last week, and since I really didn’t have anything to say, I just drove for quite a while. He looked out the window and hummed along to the music.
Eventually conversation resumed, and when it did, I enjoyed it even more, since there had been that quiet gap before.
I do a lot of self-work: reading, meditating, taking notes, writing, doing yoga, staying conscious in relationships, and I must say it is gratifying when someone makes a remark that leads me to believe I might be making some progress.
And this is what happened today. Someone saw me the way I wish to be seen. It felt both exhilarating and humbling.