Everyone is on a similar journey.
It might not look the same.
But we are.
On one of my many boat rides around Indonesia, I witnessed a ‘car crash’ of an outfit on a fifty something woman, reclaiming her youth. I feel slightly bad about calling her out on the inappropriate ‘girls gone wild’ attire, but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck (insert the last duck statement here). To be fair, I really don’t judge people on holiday wear, because most of us are adorning ourselves with SOMETHING that doesn’t quite work in the real world. The other day, for example, I was sitting by the pool and an older man – late sixties – came out near the restaurant to watch the sunset in his boxers. How do I know they were boxers? Well, this isn’t my first rodeo and underwear look vastly different than shorts. To confirm my expansive knowledge on the subject, boxer shorts are made with flimsier fabric and have no zipper or top button closure. This is a fact: underwear is meant to be worn UNDER… hence why it is appropriately named. They are not a rebellious fashion statement, to be worn in public where people’s eyes (mine in particular) can see the outline of soft floppy anatomy. And yet there he was, in all his glory, basking in the glory of the fading sun.
The boat ride was smooth. I chose to sit on the upper sundeck, where I could feel the warm breeze ticking my face as I watched other islands pass by. I was lulled into a state of relaxation with the gentle rocking motion, the sounds of the monotonous engines and the waves that occasionally splashed up and cooled me down. I was in my ‘zen zone,’ when I noticed a woman speaking what I thought was Italian. For simplification purposes let’s say she’s Italian. I noticed her because she had that type of energy that slaps you on the back of the head and makes you turn around; so without much thought, I watched her walk to the bow of the boat and take an overly dramatic seat.
Now what happened next may seem like I’m making it up, but believe me, it was all too real. With my eyes casually observing this woman, she began to pull up her already shorty shorts into the crack of her ass and sit spread eagle facing the stern of the boat. This proposed a difficult life altering decision for the travelers facing her: to look or not to look. It was a tough call, but morbid curiosity got the better of me and I chose to watch the show. With an audience of her peers (she walked on with eight other people), it was clear, they were not unaccustomed to her blatant showmanship. As she rolled around on the deck performing what I can only guess were bastardized yoga poses – split leg stretches, side bends and cobbler pose (feet together knees apart), I caught the eye of the couple next to me and awkwardly smiled. You know that moment when you lock eyes with a stranger at the strippers? All you can do is half smile, raise an acknowledging eye brow, slightly shrug your shoulders and turn slowly back to the entertainment. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I've actually never been to a strip club, but I'm absolutely certain that reaction would be the appropriate while accidentally locking eyes with a stranger while a naked woman slides up and down a pole).
And that’s what we did. We all watched.
To be fair, the woman desperately trying to defy her age was attractive but clearly not comfortable in her own skin. Or maybe she was, and I was uncomfortable with how comfortable she was. Either way… there was a hidden story behind her movements.
(Pause for dramatic effect)
You and I have sat spread eagle somewhere someplace at sometime. Maybe you’ve been a tad more subtle or possibly more obliviously obvious. But, really, isn't that all what we're ultimately trying to do? We're collectively sitting on the boat facing the world; vulnerable, stretching, and hoping someone “gets” us, to possibly provide some type of approval.
You might still be shaking your head… no way… I don’t do that.
With all my respect and love – you sure do. We all do.
Even the most confident and well-adjusted person, at one time, has felt alone or in need of confirmation. How do I know? Because I’ve spent the last 17 years listening to your tales and sharing my own stories of how we pulled up our shorts and showed our assets. You might be missing your significant other, who works a lot or lacks the ability to communicate. So you act out. Say shit. Cause fights; to get dialogue flowing. You want to be heard and seen. Or maybe you’re seeking company on a dating site. Been there done that. I only lasted a week because the constant posturing, ridiculous banter and cries for attention made me realize that meeting someone online, isn't my jam. But I can admit, during that week, I talked some shit. Apparently, a winky face (or whatever the fuck it is) can shift perspective and help a person feel good about themselves. Or maybe you do none of those things, but simply post family photos and welcome the affirmations - you are doing one hell of a good job!
Yes, yes I know what you're thinking... shouldn't we be able to uncover our own unique happiness and not need another’s input, to make ourselves feel better?! YES! I agree... in theory. But the reality of being human is that we are social creatures and as such, depend on one another for validation in so many little ways. Think about it: ever wonder why it makes you irritated when someone doesn’t respond to a text or is super late without any apology? Because it feels disrespectful to you and it ultimately means, perceived or real, that your time is not valuable and that you are not worthy.
Shitty but true.
So here’s what I think… we carry on. We become aware of our negative patterns that are restrictive and destructive and do our best to build self love in more productive, self affirming ways. And yet, perhaps, we may continue to reach out, consciously or not, when we need a little boost of positive reinforcement or encouragement from another.
And who am I to say how you choose to receive that.
After all, as connected beings, aren’t we supposed to be there for one another; to affirm, confirm and love?
So to the beautiful lady on the boat… I applaud you. I admire you. And I see you.