#27. Not for Everyone, Not for Me
Updated: Oct 22
I don't know when it started (the first weekend of my psychedelic training? the recent solar eclipse?) or how it happened (did I have a bad trip and/or enter another dimension? am I still there?), but I've been feeling weary, unmotivated, and paranoid, scared to speak, to write. Afraid I'll offend or be unsubscribed from, worried about being thought of in a negative light. There are very many horrific things going on in the world, very many challenges in our individual lives. So much so that it's become (more) difficult to concentrate or go on as if such things aren't happening. But such things always have been. It was, simply, somehow easier to ignore before. Now, I feel called to not turn away. To not keep silent. To speak what feels true, even if one day that truth turns out to be fleeting. But that's hard.
It's hard because, historically, one of the first-world "worst" things that could ever happen to me was to be unliked. To be a source of irritation, annoyance, or god forbid (gasp and collapse) a conduit for toxicity. To be anything but, whether or not I'm mistaken or delusional, loved and adored. And yet, it appears to be happening. Unfollows and unsubscribes by people who I thought liked me, really liked me! Well, you can't be everything to everyone. You can try, but it won't get you any closer to where you're ultimately trying to go. (I'm assuming the destination is, of course, nirvana.) So, lately, when faced with such a predicament, I first pat myself on the back for not being as distraught as I may have been in the past. Then I ask myself, "What is the truest thing I can say or do?" (Bonus points for completing the holy triangle by ensuring it's kind and necessary, too.) And if I'm doing that, then maybe whatever I'm doing or saying, or whoever I'm being is just... not for everyone.
I tried on my Halloween costume for my four-year-old nephew the other day. The costume is a "funky chicken suit" and an unnecessarily disturbing, realistic-enough (very) old person mask that I wore last year. A year ago, when he was 3, and we were video calling, he appeared to register shock and momentary paralysis, hearing my voice but not seeing my face. When he got a hold of himself a few seconds later, he yelled loudly and very forcefully, "WHO ARE YOU?!"
This time, he watched me put the mask on, but still looked a bit apprehensive. I approached him to get a picture together, and I could sense both his discomfort and his will to resist that discomfort. As I sat down to put my arm around him for a photo, he paused, took a breath, and said, whether to me or himself, I wasn't sure, "I trust that it's still you in there."
Four year olds are teeming with allegories and metaphors. Such is the nature of our littlest gurus. If I trust that it's still me in here, still you in there, still souls wearing bizarre and sometimes monstrous masks, then I can find a way to override fear and allow touch, permit humanity. I'll be able to let fear yield to truth. Hearing my nephew's words and watching his process unfold also reminded me of every bad trip I've ever taken and how it's less "fun party time" and more "forced to sit in the audience of the gladiator fight between everything I fear versus everything that is truth."
Years ago, Matt said something that stuck with me. I can't recall any of the details of the conversation, but I remember his nonchalant response to what was presumably something I was fretting over. He said, "Eh, NFE." Not For Everyone. I think about it often, especially now that I've been on the hunt for a mantra. Something old, new, borrowed, true.
I want to embody this, imbue it into my every atom.
Sometimes, I'm not for everyone. Other times, it's not for me.
My first prayer is to remember with kindness that I can't possibly be everything to everyone, that I accept this, surrender to it. That I--my words, my sentiments, my hopes, dreams, fears, jokes, foibles, apologies, the documentations of my search for ultimate truth--are not for everyone. And that's really okay, no guilt or shame about it.
My second prayer is to always remember that it's okay for others to live their lives, to make decisions and choices that they feel are right, to relieve myself of engaging with any emotions or judgments about those decisions or choices. To let go of the need for every difference to become a similarity to my liking. And that's it's truly all good, no sarcasm or passive aggression about it.
There are times during which, for one reason or another, I don't have the capacity to see beyond someone else's grotesque mask. And in those moments, I hope to learn to shrug it off, these major or minor differences, and say "Eh, not for me."
with gratitude, love, and hopes against hope for a gentler and braver world,