With my friend Simone's wedding coming up, I figured it would be a great time to start an earnest attempt at mending my long-tattered social skills (and by that I mean practicing the ability to be around a group of people/strangers/anyone without reverting to my habitual patterns of thought that tell me, "There is something here to run from, there's something here I must avoid, there's something here I won't be able to handle." But I won't even lie - it's just as equally about wanting some male companionship in the worst way. I figured that this was a great time and excuse to work with, and put together, my two intentions - so I signed up with a dating site.
Surprisingly, and alarmingly, I've been eliciting more attention than I ever thought that I would. Not that I'm complaining. It's just that when I asked the Universe for some practice, I didn't realize that I'd be given so much so soon. Honestly, though, I love it. It's exactly what I want and feel ready for. Ready, meaning eager but apprehensive.
One gentleman in particular - I'll call him Silas - asked me out this past Saturday night. At first I said, "not yet," but the more we chatted, the more I felt comfortable with the idea, so I said yes...after he asked again. I'm so glad he asked again!
I can safely say that I've come to the point where I'm pretty much able, probably 90% of the time, to keep mindful of my intention to use all my experiences, big or small, as fuel for my spiritual practice. I don't think that there's any situation that doesn't have the potential to help wake someone up if they're open enough to using it. Not that it's always easy - but they are there and waiting for us just as soon as we can see.
Fortunately, I was gifted that awareness on Saturday. I had several hours before my first date in years, and fresh off the phone with him, my anxiety appeared. My chest tightened and my face grew hot. And the visions! The visions I had of all the awkward moments that could potentially take place! The visions of him finding out all the details of my situation and his subsequent getaway, his fleeing the scene without so much as a goodbye! The visions of my not being able to carry on an interesting, let alone coherent, conversation! The visions of him taking a look at me and my less-than-stellar physique and wondering aloud what the hell he was doing there, possibly even breaking in to laughter! On and on these images burbled in my mind.
But with Grace, I was able to stay present and investigate. Instead of trying to suppress my nervousness or make it go away, and instead of frantically searching for ways to distract myself, I simply let it be. I sat still and let the bodily sensations take over. I told them to go ahead and have at it. And it was very strange letting myself feel these uncomfortable feelings that I most always run from. They didn't go away, but as I watched from Awareness, the amount of suffering that is usually layered on top of those feelings, did. Becoming less identified with and judgmental of the sensations, unequivocally left me with a more comfortable experience of them.
I am nourished by the wind. I love the feeling of it blowing on my face and skin. I always have a fan nearby. In this case, I went and laid down on the floor of the hallway under the attic fan, as well as to the kitchen where there is a ceiling fan that can operate at a high speed. I took a chair from the kitchen table, sat directly under the fast-moving blades, and I summoned Byron Katie. Although she suggests that we write down our stressful thoughts, sometimes I'm happy with just questioning them in my mind. And here lately, I've found it helpful to bring Katie in to the room with me and we do The Work together on whatever it is that's plaguing me at the time. I did some good Work. Now, to a casual observer, it would have appeared that I was having a whispery conversation with the stove; actually, I was having a very enlightening dialogue with a wonderful friend. I'm able to hear her responses as I answer. I can hear her encourage the possibilities that lie beyond the story I'm so stuck in. I took the things I was afraid of and questioned them one by one. By the end, I was laughing at thoughts that not an hour ago I'd been frightened by. The potential Silas of my mind that had at first been a shallow, judgmental asshole, turned in to someone that I trusted would be an honest reporter of his experience, revealing himself as friend - regardless of his opinion of me. Just another example of Inquiry and allowance making all the difference!
We ended up driving around in his convertible (top down: wind!), eventually deciding on a nice little park in the gayborhood. We walked and talked and established a vibe. It was the perfect night for a first date. Warm and breezy, the big bright moon shining down. The nervousness returned while I was with him. It came in waves. And my occasional stammering and blushing gave me away every time. Apparently though, and luckily for me, some guys find this trait cute and endearing (hey, I prefer that story to mine!) - and Silas is one of them. All I could do was my best, and that's what I did. He made it so easy for me to be myself and I'm grateful to him for that.
We laughed, we shared stories, we kissed. The real-life version of Silas turned out to be a really cool guy and someone I hope to get to know more of as time goes on. He drove me back and let me out and I walked the neighborhood, reflecting on the time we'd had.
Up and down the streets I went, glowing in the moonlight. I was smitten, happy, but most of all proud...