“I used to want to fix people. Now I just want to be with them.” Bob Goff, Love Does
My feet were quick under me and the sun was threatening to poke through and announce that spring was here, or at least that spring might come. Bob’s warm voice played in my ears as he talked about how to lean in to life. His words scared me. They reminded of this awful feeling I’d get in high school when the thing I knew I needed to do was the last thing I wanted to do. Things that were different, uncool and defied the status quo. Things that took courage I wasn’t always able to muster. And still can’t.
Yet, as he told stories laced with chance and whimsy and great delight in this life—stories of complete strangers asking if they could propose in his yard with 20 other strangers present oh and did he have a boat too said stranger might borrow (and he said yes!)—I remembered a part of my 16 year old self that despite the fear of being different believed that inside that sickly sweet fear was this great big life waiting for me.
It feels like life is asking me to lean in right now. I started this year following curiosity. I wanted to play big but what I needed was to play small well. This is a year of evolution, a year of less. But now I feel like I’m waking up and I need to play both big and small. Big with my heart, big in my relationships. Big in how I interact with the people I meet in this world, from the porter at Newark airport, to grumpy Canadian border officers, to new loves, best friends and maybe even just with myself.
After a winter where at moments it felt like I would truly never heal and never know running the way I had before I have been taking a new approach to my near daily runs. Every run is great, even when it was not. It is great because I get to do it. Sometimes I want it to be easier or faster or I worry I won’t get fast again but this slight shift in attitude is having a profound effect on my joy in running and in life. Add to this the stories of Bob Goff and I was feeling pretty excited about life a few Fridays back. Plus sunshine in what has felt like a never ending winter. I found myself craving a little adventure.
My adventure started pretty tame. I found a brewery on google maps in near Rochester, New York and drove there. The inside was not what I had hoped for: sunlit, wooden beams and views of the lake. It was dark, little natural light and I considered leaving. But life was really good so why not stay a little longer.
The beer list sold me. They had an IPA with milkshake in the title. And a maple pecan stout. I sampled them both. A couple sitting next to me started talking to the bartender and I learned they were from Canada and the bartender also happened to be a wedding photographer. Montreal bound on Monday myself, the couple was eager to offer up a slew of suggestions after having fallen a little for that city on their own trip there last summer. We started talking about food, and then family, and then careers. At one point it came up that I was on the east coast to photograph. Alita, said you must be good because someone had hired me to travel across the country. I opted to demurely decline that I might be good and Aleta said, “Girl, you are and you have to own that.” Such timely words from a stranger in a bar in Webster, New York.
The strong IPA began to creep into my blood and I thought, I want to take this couple’s photo. It took a few more sips of beer before I found the courage to ask if they might step in front of my camera. They said yes.
I left that brewery riding a wave of joy that was born out of whimsy. I am positive that running for pure love and the scary words of Bob Goff helped make that Friday afternoon what it was. Otherwise I might have sat there a bit more caught up in my own life and not curious about the world around me. I’ve had so many experiences like this before and they’ve all had the common thread of me showing up and actually feeling present. Days like Friday leave me bereft of the jaded armor I sometimes sport. Instead, I believed in life and love and that anything was possible. In fact, I was so inspired by the encounter that with 3% battery left on my laptop I furiously wrote to another friend I had met under similar circumstances in another city that was not my home about my afternoon.
Thank you Bob and running and sunshine and of course my subjects and new friends Aleta and Jeff.