I meet interesting people who say interesting things to me. I have long since been obsessed with strangers. Photographing them and short but meaningful conversations with them. I think when I learn something from a stranger it was really an interaction with an angel. It’s my small but big belief. And I believe that because I trust in the power of these exchanges so absolutely, they happen to me more often. Or perhaps I assign meaning to them more often than the average person would. Either way, yesterday I had one of those conversations.
I’d headed to my favorite San Diego soul food restaurant for the second time in ten days. I woke up after a five hour nap with an aggressive craving for catfish and so off I went to appease my pallet. Prior to napping I’d dressed in jean shorts and a white tee shirt. Nothing remarkable and yet very significant. It’s the outfit I’d loved on other women for quite some time now but had been denying for myself. Ever since I quit cheering and honestly even during that time, I was uncomfortable about showing off my thighs. They were too big too solid too present. I much preferred to tuck them into skirts and dresses than show them off in shorts.
However I’ve grown up a lot this summer and decided to hell with it. I’m wearing shorts. So I bought a few pair and yesterday I wore some out to get food. When I walked in the restaurant I saw the same woman who’d helped me a few days prior. She smiled in recognition. I read the menu while she completed other customers orders and when it was my turn she said:
“You are so beautiful.” I was stunned. I responded “Well thank you! And on a day where I have no make up on and am wearing shorts and a tee shirt? I’ll take it.” She smiled largely and said “You have God’s glow pouring out of you.” What do you SAY to that? It filled me with such joy I could barely contain my smile. I thanked her again, placed my order and went to sit in a booth to wait for my food.
As I waited I came across a comment from Tumblr–the same thread that yielded so many comments about my bravery wearing a bikini. Someone asked me how I got the confidence to rock a two piece? Basking in the glow of my amazing exchange I wrote back: “Girl, I fell so deeply in love with the person I am that my physical form just came second.” The words came from me and yet they shocked me all the same.
As I drove home I contemplated their validity. Somewhere along the way I had fallen in love with myself. And it had nothing to do with how my hair looked, what I was wearing, my hip to waist ratio, or how flat my stomach was. Instead I’d grown quite fond of my genuine laughter at funny moments, the kindness I extend to others, the way I listen intently, and my creative spirit. I remembered a moment in Bali with Agung Rai–he was an artist by any standard who had constructed an art museum based on a want to preserve Balinese art. He was inspired primarily by the morning light and a burning desire that showed up even in his dreams. Recalling a story of when he was asked why he loved his wife he said: “I am not with her because she is beautiful. There are women more beautiful than her…but I am with her because I love her. And because I love her she is beautiful.” That’s how I felt. Exactly. Somehow I’d become and my life had become about something so much more than the physical. The tangible. Somehow my life had truly become about love God and essence.
It sat with me all night and until now when I decided to write it. Somehow amidst the broken pieces I managed to see my Self reflected back at me. And akin to Narcissus I fell so deeply that I almost couldn’t look away. What a spectacular being I am. We are. Because seeing myself more clearly has allowed me to see others with greater detail as well. It’s a blessing.
And so maybe that’s what the glow of God looks like. Love. Acceptance. Empathy and compassion. It was just enough to let me know I am on the right track. Onward…