The people who are going to be most receptive to any conversation are going to be those who share similar perspectives, experiences, biases. It is not a statement of Universal Fact, but rather, what I think is the most likely to happen. A person with a vested interest in a subject is likely to be the best audience for the subject.
Lines can be crossed when people see similarities in the human aspect of a situation, so it need not be an exact 1:1 situation.
When there are awkward, uncomfortable topics, what often happens is those who are unvested are usually uninterested, and will go the other way, as far away as possible. Ironically, they are often the ones who are most able to be of some help. The ones in the quagmire often need those outside of it.
If I was going to speak to those who were most interested in my situation, it would likely be contained within a community of those already impacted/invested. There is a problem with this approach in my eyes because, in some way, you are already speaking to "the converted."
Long before cancer showed up, I started to have an interest in things that weren't exactly mainstream, or even welcome - at least on the surface. I found, though, that going into unexpected places with what I had to offer drew to me those who were interested, but silently and privately - for fear of what others might think. There were others who didn't even know what they were interested in, until we had a conversation.
Had I gone the route often advised - to go where those who had the interests were - I would have missed opportunities with these other people who may never have gone to "those" kinds of places.
If we go only to the places we are "allowed" to go by convention, or some unwritten rule, we may not be going where we need to be going. I have spent a good part of my working life running counter to, and questioning, the Shoulds, often getting myself into trouble.
There are those who would say that was reason enough to alter what I do. Funny thing? I often became more adamant, because I truly felt like I was doing the "right" thing. Not Universally Right, for the record, just Right For Me, and those I might meet along the way. The fact that I often saw value in "being right" only affirmed my desire to take the road I would choose.
It was the freaking Hard Road, but it really seemed to matter and make a difference, so I often found myself in uncomfortable and unsettling situations.
So then cancer shows up.
At first, I was quiet about what was going on. I reluctantly became public about things when it was apparent I needed help. Along the way, things were happening. I was being affected by how people reacted to me. Instead of being quiet, and pulling in, I got more verbal.
People kindly suggested that I change my approach. What I found was that by being true to myself I have connected in some amazing ways with some people I may not have met, had I just stayed in the Containment Area, and only said the things that were acceptable, in the places that were most appropriate.
Has this approach won me lots of fans or help? Hardly. And there are definitely times I think it does actually hurt me because people do not know what to do with it, and therefore, what to do with me.
But, once again, it feels right. It feels right because I have come to realize that there are many who need a voice but, for some reason, don't have one. Our society has trained people who have issues on how to act. They have taught them what is acceptable. They have taught them what the repercussions are of not following the rules.
I have referenced the lyric of a song that says, "Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose." I have come to really appreciate what that lyric means.
When you have said and done everything that you can say and do and find that it doesn't seem to matter, it would seem that nothing else will matter, either. You get more bold, more daring. You say things you never thought you would. You do things you never thought you could. You become fear-less in the sense that there is a lot less fear about what others will think because it really does not seem to matter.
If you feel ignored, they will just continue to ignore you. If you feel judged, they will just continue to judge you. The only thing that will change will be you. Internally you will claim parts of yourself that were previously silenced. You will find yourself expressing yourself in ways that give you true freedom to be yourself.
It feels amazing.
It also sucks.
But what many do not realize is just how much holding back, and being "appropriate" sucks.
Now, I am not advocating going out into the world and creating havoc. Although you start being more true to yourself, and others will probably think you are doing just that - even if it really isn't a "big" deal in the grand scheme of things. For them, though, it may certainly feel like it.
Why am I saying all of this? Because it is very much on my mind after recent events. More than one person has mentioned something about the "appropriateness" of my Facebook post in regard to the guy in Michigan.
So many times I say nothing when it comes to these things - at least not in a big forum like GMA's timeline. I may say something on mine, or here, in this blog, but never have gone outside those "limits."
Part of it has been fear. Part of it has been "appropriateness."
This time was different. Something told me to do it, and I did - without giving it too much thought. The thought would probably have had me change my mind.
I knew it did not quite "fit," but the way I saw it, it was a place to have a "conversation." I did not just talk about me and cancer. I framed the conversation in a context that I did feel worked.
Five people liked my post, and a couple of comments seemed to agree. It was the minority, by far, but it apparently did plug into something for a few people.
I had thought about keeping it up, but found the replies spiraling in a non-beneficial way, and thought it best to remove it.
I learned a lot from that posting. Would I do it again? I really am not sure. But I do know that I am definitely not deciding not to do it again.
If there is that kind of response, and in those kinds of numbers, it tells me that there is a lot of awareness that seems to be lacking. Of course I hope if people become more aware of what "is" they will alter how they react to people in the uncomfortable, awkward situations they've wanted to ignore or avoid.
That is the hope. There is a chance that they will hear things I say, and still not be able or interested in altering anything. The reaction of many of those replies speaks to exactly that.
But it is those who said nothing, those who did not click a like button, and who did not engage that I am most interested in. I know from my experience on this blog that many read, and are touched by, what I share and write, but often say nothing. And I know this because eventually...they do say something.
Many times I get more silence and grief than I get acknowledgment, thanks and appreciation. But, here's the thing, when I do get those more positive things, they touch me on such a deep and impactful level that the other crap doesn't really matter.
I wasn't happy about the way things went with that thread, but I was a lot calmer and clearer about it all than I have been many other times things like that have popped up.
I see it as a tool. I see it as perspective. I see it as impetus for important - and needed - conversations like these.
Do I like it? Hardly. But do I appreciate what it has to offer me in terms of perspective? Absolutely.
There are people who tell me that because things are so bumpy they're not working, and that is why I should change how I do things.
First of all, I have no clue what differently would look like. Second of all, who says that because things don't sparkle and shine that they're not the right thing?
Pearls are formed from irritation. Diamonds are formed from pressure. Irritation and pressure are two things we likely would say we don't want much, if anything, to do with. Often they are perceived to be negative.
But what if it just is how things are? What if we could have them without attached judgments?
I do not know if how I approach things is really the best for me, many times I do feel hurt by reactions, especially when the place I am coming from is misconstrued. At the same time, even if I change how I do things, you know people are gonna misconstrue me any way, don't you?
I think the key really, truly is to keep listening to that inner voice. It doesn't assure us of clear sailing, but at least we ARE sailing, and not docked somewhere.
I would much rather live my life "making mistakes" than not live it at all. I spent too many years holding back, and I just ain't gonna do it any more.
My heart is in the right place. I know that, without a doubt, and if people can't see, or feel, or acknowledge it, it is clear to me that they are tuned into something else.
When you are tuned into a station, all you can get is that station. You won't get R & B on a country station.
Tuning into love doesn't mean we have to agree. It just means we can see the core and heart of another, despite how it may be dressed up. And we focus on the core, rather than the dress.
When people talk, we can choose to listen with our heart or our head. I am fairly certain many of those responses I got would have been a lot different, had their heart been doing the listening.
I could be wrong about this, but I think when love is present, the underlying feeling is "and." I think when the mind and/or ego is in charge, it goes to an "or" position, which could often look and sound like judgment.
If we are going to have a world that is loving of others, I suspect we need to do a bit more "and-ing."