Episode 65 We Contain Multitudes

May 31, 2023

Good morning from New York City. I’m contemplating today what it means to live my life out loud and to change my mind a lot, which is something I do. I say one thing and do another, or I say something and then I change my mind. The truth of the matter is I’m a verbal processor, and I’m not one of those people that plays my cards close to my chest. I talk out loud. I hear myself. I catch myself, and I’m willing to change my mind. Sometimes I feel embarrassed about it, and sometimes I realize I catch people off guard, or maybe some time has passed and they’re like oh wait, I thought you said that. And yes, it can be embarrassing, but that’s just who I am and I’ve always been that way.

I happened to stumble into a reading from the Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. This is a book I quote often because I love it. The reading today is called Breaking Patterns and the quote is by Walt Whitman. It says “if I contradict myself, I contradict myself. I contain multitudes.”

The reason I bring this up today is because I realize that we create patterns in our life and ways of showing up that others depend on. Of course, it’s only normal to be aware of your loved ones and to think about or perhaps over-anticipate what their reaction may be when you change things up, show up with new ideas or things you want to try on for size. It’s a really great muscle to flex or, better said, perhaps it’s something you’re modeling for your children when you have the courage to try something new or to say, I don’t feel like doing that anymore, or I’m going to take a break from X, whatever that may be.

In this reading, Mark Nepo says this: we grow and change, and then to stay vital we must break the patterns we created. It is commonplace in nature (..) and you’ll see that happen daily. Here’s the part I like. We know we are close to this threshold when we hear someone say, you’re not yourself, or that was out of character for you. What is difficult at this juncture is to resist either complying with how others see us or withholding who we really are. The challenge is to say to those we love, I am more than I have shown you and more than you are willing to see.

This reminds me of a quote I love. So many people from your past know a version of you that doesn’t exist anymore. Let me say that again. So many people from your past know a version of you that doesn’t exist anymore. I think there’s something about a willingness to shed an old skin or tell your family and friends that you are going to learn a new language or pick up the guitar or take that adventure trip with strangers that you always wanted to do and can’t find anyone to go with you.

So yes, I guess being reliable and dependable and oftentimes predictable is fine a lot of the time. Until it isn’t. There’s that point where your default behavior is stifling you or is an excuse or something you hide behind. It can be really fun to surprise yourself and surprise others and stop worrying about what they’ll think.

You know, interestingly, when I started Dear Constance, I had this experience that other people in my pod group had as well. I was telling everybody that I was starting a podcast except the people closest to me. The ones who matter most. The ones who love me the most. The ones who are rooting for me the most. They were the last people I told, and I was really surprised when I heard two other people in my small pod say the same thing. I guess we were anticipating a reaction that we felt ill-equipped to handle or somehow vulnerable about. Speaking for myself, the reaction that I got from my best friend Marion and other people really close to me was the very energetic fuel I needed to step into this new thing that I was trying for the first time. It was the very heartwarming and encouraging, and loving thing I most needed. We contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman says.

What is that thing that you might want to try? Gardening, cooking, hiking, taking a trip. Here’s what I’ll say from my own experience, and I think I’ve said it before. I have derived a lot of satisfaction from being around people that are working on things that are similar to what I’m doing. There’s a camaraderie and kinship and support that is really fulfilling and fun. I’ve forged close relationships with people I have yet to meet, starting with Allison, Jackie, Dina, and Sarah, who are my core pod of fellow podcasters. We are connected. We support each other. We share information, and we’ve remained committed in the various iterations of our pod.

So if there’s something that you want to do, try it. If nothing else, I hope today’s episode reignites your curiosity or willingness to try something new or to step outside of your comfort zone.

I’ll leave you with that. Until next time, from my heart to yours

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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