There’s a homily in one of the twelve-step programs I have attended over the years (which is almost all of them) that says, “Don’t go to the hardware store for milk.” It means that when we seek approval, validation or support from people who are unable to provide it, we are trying to get something they do not have to give. And though I have used this very expression as a guidepost for upwards of seven years, sometimes I catch myself doing it anyway, just showing up at Home Depot wondering if they have organic, carrageenan-free almond milk and then throwing a primal tantrum worthy of a disgruntled toddler when they don’t. I don’t want to go to the hardware store for milk anymore, but can someone please show me the way to the grocery store?
Are the directions in my phone? Because everything else is. Can I type my soul’s direction into Google Maps? Or is it Waze? At least that way any accidents I encounter along the way will be reported in advance by concerned Wazers. Where are life’s Wazers? The ones who are up ahead telling you the cops are around the corner, or maybe just warning you about a person you’re about to encounter whom you could really get into trouble with. If only a voice could blare out of the ether, “RUN!!!! You can’t see up ahead, but if you don’t turn back now, you will be going over a cliff shortly. Take my (disembodied) word for it.”
Problem is, we wouldn’t. At least I wouldn’t. I’m an experiential learner, and you can tell me a thousand times that something is so, but until I experience it myself I simply won’t believe you. It’s not that I think you’re lying to me, it’s that I fundamentally don’t trust your opinion. I don’t think you and I are going to draw the same conclusions, so I am always deferring judgment until I’ve experienced it myself. It’s. Exhausting.
As I learn to be an independent human being, emotionally self-contained and self-reliant, part of that is not seeking outside approbation from people who couldn’t provide it even if they wanted to (they don’t.) Also, I’m forty fucking years old and who cares if people really see me, as long as I do? Intellectually I know that loneliness can’t kill you… So if I see you on the street, you can say hi, and I will probably be quite entertaining to talk to for a while. Though keep in mind I am under construction, so please pardon the dust.