I am generally not a do-er of Things.
I have a life-long habit of shying away from new experiences, and I suspect, from many conversations I have had with many people, I am not alone. We don’t want to be seen in front of others doing something new incorrectly; we don’t want to screw up; we don’t want to look like fools. We don’t want to not know how to act in a new environment, in front of new people. We don’t want to offend, or upset or amuse someone with our ignorance and awkwardness. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about those uncharted situations gets me jittery and freaked out.
And it’s not just new experiences, I mean sometimes I get a little bit anxious about something as commonplace as say, going out for groceries…so I think it might just be experiences, period. Every time I leave my house, my safe spot, my comfort zone, there is an element of the unknown mixed in with it – what’s traffic going to be like? how many left turns must I take ? what if the parking lot is full? what if I run into someone I know? what if I spend too much on groceries? what if they don’t have an item I desperately need? what if I get into an accident? and can’t find my insurance card? or my registration? You know, sometimes it’s just easier to stay home and eat stale crackers than deal with the vagaries of Regular Human Stuff.
For all that, though, I do manage to get by. I grocery shop, I visit the library, I make it to hair appointments and doctor’s appointments. These are the things one has to do as a human in today’s world, these are the things regular, normal people do. And I try, for the most part, to pass as “normal”.
I do realize, though, that’s really no way to live. Sequestering one’s self in one’s office all day, solely communicating with people from the relative safety of an email or an instant message, and then limiting interaction with the world beyond your front door as much as you can possibly get away with – you miss out on so many rich experiences, hiding where you feel safe. And you know, as I’ve gotten older, I think what starts to scare me more than “Something New” is “Something New That Could Have Been Great and I totally missed out on it because I was too frightened or self-conscious to give it a try”.
Now, you are probably not going to see me going out for ballroom dancing anytime soon, or taking flying lessons or attending a stand up comic show (that’s how I know when I’ve made great strides, when I am able to comfortably listen to a live comedian, which is the most awkward and embarrassing thing ever.) but I have been Doing Things lately.
This past Friday night I went along with my sister and some friends to see The Acrocats at the Venue in Orlando. Now, you might be puzzled as to my hesitation with regard to such an evening “It’s cats! Cats doing things!” you might say. “Who wouldn’t be excited about that?” Well, hi – do you know me? Have you been listening? What if they miss their cues? What if they poop on the stage? What if they get loose in the audience? So many things could go wrong! And I would be in the audience to witness it! Auuugh. I didn’t think I could possibly handle it.
As it turns out, it was pretty fantastic for those very reasons. They’re cats, for God’s sake. They’re going to do whatever they want to do, and that’s actually what made the show so much fun. It was a ridiculous spectacle, and if I am being honest -which I am because to do otherwise would defeat the purpose of having typed all of this – I loved every minute of it. I laughed and smiled until my cheeks felt like they might burst and I was so very grateful to the people who encouraged me to see it.
We saw cats dinging cowbells and pushing cars and walking across tightropes and a chicken playing a cymbal and an enormously fat groundhog doing …something (but I couldn’t tell what because people’s heads were in the way). The ringmaster/trainer was such a lovely, sweet lady and all throughout the show she explained a bit about her training techniques and gave us background on the individual cats (which were all strays she had taken in), so any fears about ill-treatment of animals were put to rest. It was all absolutely absurd and silly and such a weird and wonderful way to spend a Friday night. If these guys travel to your area, I highly recommend purchasing a ticket.
So basically everyone was right and I did enjoy myself immensely and sometimes gentle encouragement is a good thing for people like me, like us, people who are scared of doing things. It doesn’t have to be like that! We don’t have to be sad and lonely in our little hidey-holes and missing out on all of the good, interesting stuff. Sometimes we can have a good time watching crazy cats with our friends and it isn’t the least bit scary, not at all.
(Wonderful photos courtesy BGF – mine were all pretty blurry and terrible.)