I could and should start by busting out some Brené Brown. That’s a good twenty minutes of fascination and making us all feel better. She’s great.
I had a phone meeting today with an out-of-state colleague about some technological comparisons in our respective areas. It went well until the last few moments.
“Can I offer some advice?”
I could hear the deep inhale on the other end.
“Everything that you’ve been through…you’re really comfortable talking about it.”
“I do talk about it a lot. It’s sort of what’s going on…”
“You ever worry that people are defining you by it? Maybe you should put a cap on it on social media. You don’t want to be the amputee, or diabetes guy, or something like that. You’re so much smarter and better than that.”
Pleasantries continued. I said goodbye. I went out to see Purple Rain. And I moped.
Every day, when I assess the missing parts of my foot, or I’m just not feeling well, or I get that look from my family and coworkers and colleague that assesses my illness and fragility first and my talent and dignity second–I think about this.
And the thing is, I’m not going to shut up about what’s happened to me, or what I’ve learned, or what’s about to happen. Editing our truths and feelings for a sense of complacency or an illusion of wholeness is profoundly destructive to both ourselves and who we love and interact with. If we’re in the process of telling our stories for the purposes of lessons and knowledge and strength, we have nothing to fear. I don’t see myself as a victim, and I hope the people I encounter don’t see me that way, either. Then again, I need to accept I don’t have much control over that.
I firmly believe we minister from the places we’re wounded worst; this ordeal has given me strength. Leonard Cohen and Rumi hit it on the head: “Everything’s got a crack in it; that’s how the light gets in.”
I’m not going to accept that I am permanently branded as less useful by a few missing chunks of skin and bone. I’m not Superman, either. Striving towards perfection is boring and impossible. Knowledge and betterness from the events that should’ve broken me? That’s interesting. That’s useful.
At least, I like to think that’s so.