Sunday, November 13, 2016

How You See Me Isn't Real

I lived in Cordoba, Spain in my early twenties. In an apartment in an ugly new post civil war building, shared by a couple with one son to the right of the front door and a family with five children to the left. Mine was a room in the middle with one window that looked into a tiny kitchen I shared with the right side family.

The big family on the left often invited me sit around the table with them in the evening. The tablecloth was a heavy woven fabric, hanging long down the sides. Underneath the table a brazier with coals rested in a round cutout frame between the legs. When we covered our laps with our share of the table cloth, the coals and companionship kept us warm.

They were very kind. I can't remember the names of the parents. The children were Maria, Matilde, Aulogia, Miguel and Jose. Everyone worked at something useful but me. The girls knitted or unraveled old sweaters to re-knit the wool. The boys tinkered with small motors, or clocks to repair.

I began to learn Spanish, sharing the gleeful feeling of triumph when I finally got a simple joke.

As Easter approached, Matilde took it upon herself to teach me about Jesus, because, as she told me, she knew that as a Protestant, I believed in rocks and rivers and things like that instead of God like they did. I don't know what astounded me more. Their amazing tolerance in welcoming a rock-and-rivers-believer to their table or the idea of rocks and river worship.

In my ridiculously limited Spanish vocabulary I explained that Protestants believed in Christ too. Her eyes widened as I offered up what I remembered as a long-lapsed Episcopalian. Yo creo en Dios, el padre, y Jesus Cristo, su unico hijo.

How did I learn that, she wondered. In church, I explained. Where had she learned the rock and rivers bit? In church too, from the priests.

I wish everyone could be a stranger in a strange land at least once. I learned a lot about myself in Cordoba and a lot about Franco's Spain. One treasured lesson is that I am not what you think I am and you are not what I think you are.  We may never fully understand another human being but some times kindness shared around a table can bring us a lot closer.

As the Facebook and Twitter battles rage over our 2016 US election and many of us have taken to the streets to voice dismay, I hope we will find new ways to come together and share our ideas. Because I know I am not who you think I am. And you are not who I think you are. We're all just trying to find our way, doing the best we can with what we know and what we believe. And that can change in an instant of recognition.

Following this idea inward, I see that my ideas of my self are just that too, just ideas and their stronger cousins, beliefs. Many of my ideas of my self have been limiting and false. Each time I broke out from one limiting belief, or a bunch of them, I entered a larger playing field.

If someone had told me when I was in highschool that I would be a published author. Or a coach with successful, even famous, clients. Or live in Southern California, it would have sounded as wild as believing in rocks and rivers.

If you would like an opportunity to take a journey outward to The Netherlands and a journey inward to your self, I would love to have you join us for the Breakout Coach Training in The Netherlands next May. Spending four days with people who share a common cause (encouraging ourselves and each other to discover hidden limits and breakout to new adventures) is a remarkable experience. If you are even the least bit tempted, please check out the details. There's a big early registration discount until December 1, so go see now!
Though you surely  don't have to be a coach to come, it will be an opportunity to spend time with some really good ones.

Cheering you on to happy new adventures,