I remember the words from earliest childhood. They were like a curse when uttered. “I want to run away from home!”
Be careful what you wish for.
As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve started to think about the phrase in a slightly different manner.
If you believe in your own ability to manifest, to make reality out of your words, then it might be true that you should indeed be full of care about what you wish for…not just for yourself, but for others.
A few years ago, I was in a really happy phase of life. Blessed with the best relationship I’ve ever been in, and I was up for what felt like my dream job. As soon as I hit send on my resumé for the first round of applications, I started rallying my posse. I had everyone praying, lighting candles, trying to manifest that this job was going to come through. I sent out updates every step along the way as I went through email exchanges, backdoor communiqués, phone screenings, and then the big interview. It really seemed like I was going to get it. It was down to me and another guy who already worked for the organization.
Somewhere in there, I had a phone call with one of my friends: “As happy as I am for you, I have to say I’m also feeling a little bit selfish about this whole thing. This guy you’re with lives way north of the city, and this job is all the way up in Buckhead. If your life keeps heading on this trajectory, I might not get to see you as much as I do now.”
I didn’t get the job. A few months after that, my relationship ended.
It’s not that my friend had power over my reality, but I think about that conversation sometimes. Should we always speak our truths? Sometimes our truths and what’s best for someone else don’t always meet in the same reality.
Much more recently, I found myself sitting over a dinner table with a group of friends, some of whom I don’t see often in person but connect with much more on social media. Such is life. One fellow mentioned how much he enjoys following my posts.
“You’re really good at Facebook, you know?” he says to me.“Yeah, you’re not the first person to say this to me,” I replied. “Sometimes I imagine that’s what it’ll say on my tombstone: Here Lies Shannon…She Was Good at Facebook.”
“No, you’re just so funny. Witty, really. I have to tell you, as much as I want to support your pursuit of love, I kind of hope it never works out for you because I could go on reading your hilarious and embarrassing posts about online dating until the end of time.”
I didn’t let the moment take me aback on the outside as much as it did on the inside, but here are some of the things that went on in my head…
I haven’t been on a date in more than six months and that’s what this guy really remembers?
How could he possibly wish this pain and humiliation continue for me like some sort of unending version of Groundhog Day?
Instead, I returned with something like, “Just imagine what the next phase could look like. You can follow all my hilarious exploits with this awesome, new character in my life…we’ll call him something like ManBrain or FunnyDude or CooksForMe!”
Now, I realize that my friend had no ill intention behind what he was saying and was, in fact, paying me a compliment. I took the compliment for what it was. I do appreciate that I’m good at Facebook, though I’m trying to steer that talent into other, more substantive areas.
At the end of the day, what I think I’m really trying to say is that my quest for love is honest and fierce.
In late spring 2016, I did a book club with two other women centered on Calling in the One. If you, like me, are searching for a more semi-permanent dance partner, then I recommend checking out this book, and especially doing it with a small circle of people you can check in with weekly as we did. It contains daily activities, including journals, meditations, and craft projects. Somewhere along the way, we were asked to write out some concrete goals, things we’d like to manifest and within a specific amount of time, which didn’t necessarily have to do with love, but could. I remember two of mine quite vividly:
I want to become a full-time storyteller and story coach by the end of 2016.
I want to meet the next great love of my life by the end of 2016.
I had the power to make the first one happen, and here’s hoping to its great success. The second one, I’m still not sure how I’m going to manifest, but I would welcome everyone getting on board my team.
At the same time, I definitely value the time I’ve had as I’ve waited. I’ve learned so many great lessons about myself over these years. Feel certain I had some things to heal up. This essay talks about that journey from another person’s perspective quite eloquently.
My friend was right. I have posted a lot about my journey toward love, particularly through online dating. At this time a year ago, I declared that I was ending my career as Online Dating Girl in the public sphere because, after years of telling those stories, either via social media, getting up at Carapace, North Avenue Lounge, I even did a one-woman show about it, I decided that this was becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. A story I was telling myself over and over, as well as everyone else, and I wanted to break out and find a new pattern.
Note: I reserve the right still to complain and comment publicly when total dudders and zingers occur. Here’s a new fave:
HI After a rigorously brief overview of your profile, I wanted to let you know I have already married and divorced you in my mind. Thank you for all the wonderful imaginary memories! You will always have a special place in my heart. Your ex-hubby, Josh
P.S. You can keep the dog, handcuffs, and Spice Girls CDs, and I will keep the house in Hawaii and the Ferrari =)
I thought it was kind of cute. Until he sent the exact same message to a friend of mine. One of the people I admire most in this life is Arlene Goldbard. She’s a luminary in the field and writes so eloquently about the role of the arts in creating a more just society. She always wraps up her blog posts with a song, which is a lovely practice I may start to emulate.
Here’s a song that I’ve loved for a long time. It is my wish for you, for me, for the world.