I had a day recently that was eye-opening for me.
I was running by the East River in the chilly morning hours when I scanned a man who was walking past me. He wasn’t of the “typical attire” for the morning East River exercisers, so I was mindful about doing a scan for safety. (Sometimes, people break out into bouts of mental illness or behavior, albeit not often.)
When we locked eyes, it was obvious that I knew him from somewhere else. This was a guy who used to come into my old job. He was distinguishable by his crossed eyes. He used to come in, sit at the same spot at the bar, and order the same thing.
He was homeless at the time and panhandling and hustling in Port Authority for money. He only came in when he had a particularly good day. I would listen to stories about his life while I made drinks in the service bar.
It was wild to see him again.
One of the first things he told me while standing by the river was that he wasn’t homeless anymore. He said God was good, and he was living with his niece uptown, and walking his nephew to school every day.
He told me there were many times he slept on a bench, right there on my running route. He described it as “the last bench before it gets skinny.” If you run by the East River, you know exactly the place. He also said he was sober a week and a half, which my olfactory senses determined was perhaps a mistruth. Still, I encouraged him to continue his sobriety, as life can only get better. We can only go forward.
We shared many hugs, and after about 15-20 minutes, I went on my way, grateful for that very cool Easter Egg.
Many hours later, unrelated to the morning, I calculated how much money I made in 2022.
I had a lot of learning to do, and that number reflected that.
And still, I found myself swimming in this tremendous pride about it. Because I was forced, through my discomfort, to build and change; to renegotiate my limiting beliefs and make things happen by serving people in new ways.
I told someone I’m very close to about it, and it triggered for them some upset about their own ability to earn money.
I felt sad for doing this, and confused, perhaps also. Confused because I’ve been fed the idea… well, not even fed–
I’ve had the idea that “IT IS NOT ENOUGH” shoved down my throat by Western Society, and to be honest, many people I’m close with.
I’d allowed myself for a lot of the year to proclaim “it’s not enough! Work harder!”
And yet, my working hard doesn’t have anything to do with it. I actually do better when I work less hard, and I just connect with the humans.
I was confused about whether I was doing “good” or “not good,” something I insist my clients eliminate doing.
My day ended relatively late with a third conversation. I was just about to turn my light off when I got a phone call. It was from one of my most affluent friends, and we spoke for a good 45 minutes about things this person plans to do in the very recent future. As I heard these stories of experiences that are so far removed from my current reality, I finally noticed myself in the comparison trap.
I noticed that perhaps for the third time that day, I was changing my beliefs about myself based on what I was experiencing and what I was observing.
I was grateful for my home in the morning. I also felt appreciated and connected, running into that old acquaintance.
I was shameful for my home in the evening, and I felt very much disconnected.
And somewhere in the middle, I was trying to reconcile my pride for how well I’ve done this year, and yet justify that it isn’t enough because some family and friends say so.
I felt guilty for bringing up a trigger for someone I love, and then I felt more guilt for being quiet about everything for months to avoid that trigger for them.
I realized at no point during any of the experiences was I just “Andee, having her experience.” In each instance, I, effectively, was someone else in ego.
When my stepfather was teaching me to drive, he said the key to it was to “know where you are versus where everything else is at.” For it, I’m an awesome driver.
The functions of the brain that operate when you drive are judgment and discernment. You could drive from New York City to California and do most of it unconsciously. (A year ago, I did just that.)
It’s so unconscious, the way the brain discerns. And, those functions are also responsible for the narrative I’ve just relayed.
The brain does this same thing when we’re in a room with another human. It judges where we are at versus where someone else is at.
In Kabbalah they say the second another person enters the room, we are disconnected from the light.
And when we’re alone, we’re not.
As I sit here and write this, I’m not disconnected. I’m more sure that I’m in the right place than I’ve ever been.
And yet, when another person comes in, that shifts.
There’s no way to alter the brain to completely turn off judgment or discernment. If you could, you’d be dead in a day.
Rather, it’s important to notice when story is attached to the discernment.
We’re all here to learn lessons in the cohesive whole, and we often forget that. We allow ourselves to fall into a place where we don’t feel enough.
And yet, there’s divinity.
As the observer of my experience, you can likely see how I am the constant in it. My divinity did not change in any of those circumstances. I was the same light in all those conversations with all of those people.
I do not think it was a coincidence they all occurred on the same day. And, if it was, my soul had a learning agenda, and chose those conversations to pay attention to.
As you go about your week, see if you can shift into the position of observer. Just as you observed my experience as an outsider, see if you can do so for your own.
I guarantee you’ll see yourself in a new light, rather than in a judgmental one.
You’ll see how you are so perfect and so valuable, and it doesn’t change because someone else enters the room.