Today’s Just A Thought, brought to you by over-analyzing a 60-second event, which was either exactly what it was or more than what it was.
Preface: I don’t understand what was so controversial about the Super Bowl halftime show. Together, Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars brought millions of people together through different music and represented diversity. It was clear they performed with the intent to inspire and celebrate heritage, history, culture and love. They sent a simple and powerful message, “Believe In Love.”
Last Sunday afternoon, I took my usual route for my power walk. I listen to my podcasts without headphones because I feel more comfortable that way. Not even five minutes into my walk, there was a man about 30 yards ahead walking very slowly in my direction wearing somehow nice looking baggy pants, nice high-top sneakers, designer-like reflective sunglasses and an over-sized down jacket. It startled me at first glance–I wasn’t used to seeing people dressed like that on the neighborhood trail. As I got closer, I attempted to just walk on by but he stopped me and asked if I had a minute.
Two thoughts crossed my mind as I tried to read his energy: 1) If I walk away, could this result in a negative outcome? and 2) If I walk away, would I miss an opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s day? (Okay three thoughts, gosh darnit, why didn’t I just have my headphones on?)
Before I could hardly say I’m just on a walk… he started telling me about a religious movement he’s a part of–and not something local, which wouldn’t have been out of the norm, but at the global level. I felt even more uncomfortable and thought oh my gosh this is a cult. He spoke in a robotic way with sentences that lacked a beginning and end. Anxious about his intentions and how/when this random conversation was going to end, he stopped talking. I asked him a question in response so I wouldn’t seem so dismissive, thinking that may help the outcome of however this was going to end–when does the group meet, what’s the website, yada yada. He answered, I thanked him, wished him a good day and continued on my walk. I felt like I had done my part by engaging in conversation and letting him share his message, but was that even the point?
I felt anxious for about the next ten minutes then I got into into my podcasts and was distracted. So I had a good 50 minutes to laugh out loud like I usually do at my podcasts, feel the sunshine and enjoy the endorphin-high without any negative thoughts. As I came to the last leg of my walk, I walked directly past the trail entrance and without even thinking twice about taking a different way home, afraid I may run into him again. My mind went back to the encounter and thoughts flooded my mind. Which led to today’s post.
Is it because of society that I feel this way?
Or is it just awareness? If we call it what it is, and it was just some creepy guy on the trail in the middle of the afternoon and his intentions were more than the words he spoke, it was a risk either way for me to stop or to keep walking.
We hear about horrible things happening in the world more than we would ever like to–most of which are unfortunate that we can’t do anything about–like the Paris attacks, 9/11 and more. In response to those events, new security, procedures and policies are put in place that wouldn’t exist otherwise. These occurrences change the way we think, which changes the way we act/operate, which impacts the decisions we make (which impacts the outcomes!). Because I know of horrible stories of girls getting raped and killed, and such events that have happened close to home (and watching too much SVU), I was able to recognize that that may have been his intentions. But did I risk my own safety by choosing to stop and talk to him because I thought that would lead to a more positive outcome, whether it be me getting out alive or positively impacting his day? Needless to say, I came out alive. Was it because of my openness? Would this have ended differently if I responded differently?
These kinds of things happen every day. Why do I feel the need to write about it? (Or think you care about it.)
I guess when it comes to making the world a better place, I’m like a hopeless romantic. I feel both hopeful and helpless when I think about society today. There are just as many heart-breaking things that happen as there are wonderful, but the heart-breaking seem overwhelmingly powerful that leave us feeling powerless. At that point, we only have control over our next choice within our environment. So when this stranger stopped me, I ultimately made the choice to stop because I thought maybe I could make his day a little bit better. But why should I think I have the power to have that influence on him? Isn’t that the same as him thinking he has the right or ability to influence his religious affiliations upon me?
As it girl, is it just the norm for us to feel that way in this situation? If I wasn’t open and responded differently, would that have led to a different outcome? Does the outcome rely on my judgment in that moment?
Just A Thought: Is openness bliss?
I guess what led to all of these questions is me being skeptical of his intentions. Regardless of the circumstances of the unusual encounter, I hated that I felt scared. I was doing something I always do and in a safe place. I felt frustrated that a stranger made me feel this way–shouldn’t he recognize that how he approached me was off putting? Did he know that and not care? So why should I care? Is it my fault for feeling that way? Sometimes I wish I was naive. Would naivety have led to the same behavior as my awareness did? Do naivety and awareness derive from different intentions but both lead to openness? …which I think leads to more kindness. They say ignorance is bliss, but could openness also be bliss?
Believe In Love
I guess that’s why superficial things like the Super Bowl halftime performance leave me feeling hopeful, grateful and inspired. It was more than a performance; it was a response to things that have happened, are happening and continue to happen in the world. The intent was clear with a simple message: Believe In Love. Why are we more critical of that message than we are open to it?
image via @Coldplay
Just A Thought is a Sunday series that focuses on, well, a thought I’ve recently had. Note: some may be simpler than others.