The Spice Girls Situation

Elementary Aged Katie

I ditched school in the fourth grade to see the Spice Girls with a friend and her older sister.  We waited outside in the freezing Chicago winter for hours and they never showed.  Worse still, as I arrived at school the next day all of my classmates were telling me how mad the teacher was that I had ditched.  I loved my fourth grade teacher.  She was a comfort and inspiration.  I am positive that I went on to study poetry in college because of her influence.  She read us poems that she had written to her mother, who had passed away.  She even cried in front of us.

I had never met another adult, who I wasn’t related to, who I felt so strongly connected to.  So on that shameful day after the botched Spice Girls escapade I felt lower than I had ever felt in my short life.  The second I saw her face I started to cry.  At that moment she held me tight in her arms and let me know everything was okay, she had just been worried about me.  She was loving, forgiving, and had expressed none of the anger my classmates had described.  But the idea of letting her down was traumatic.  It was so traumatic that I still remember the scene vividly in my mind’s eye even now as an adult.  And yet, this was not a traumatizing situation.  Now I think it’s pretty awesome that I skipped out on school to see the best band ever.  But in future, anytime a teacher showed the slightest sign of disapproval there was nothing I could do to keep from crying.

I remember getting a C on an important Spanish test in high school and running out of the room lest my teacher see how ridiculously distraught I had become.  The positive side effect of wanting to please my teachers was my straight A record in school.  Deeper than that is an issue common to many people, in many walks of life: the need to please.  For me, my need for approval came from the story that I told myself about how bad it felt when a teacher was angry with me.  My actions were motivated by trying to mitigate an imagined pain.

The stories we tell ourselves, and believe in, have tremendous power to shape our behavior and our lives.  What stories do you tell yourself? While not all stories are negative or fearful, such as “I am awesome and can do anything I put my mind to,” they still cannot compare to reality.  It is impossible to get a true experience of reality when it is seen and felt through the filter of a story in your mind. 

I can see in my own life that I could be held back, from relinquishing stories about myself, because of the fear of what life would really be like.  I might think that living out life according to a story I have about my life will protect me from something worse.  The problem with that logic is that it’s just another story.  True expansion, freedom, and possibility await right on the other side of your story.  The mind might feel lost, because you are letting go of thought forms, but you know that you are not your mind.  And no loss of thought, opinion, or story actually has any power to take away from you, because you are life itself.  You are the platform that allows stories to arise.

I never quite got over my need to please my professors; I ended up Suma Cum Laude in college.  But getting good grades never did anything to increase my learning, creativity, or fulfillment.  I only gained the temporary high of meeting the needs of the story I was telling myself about having to get good grades.  Life went on after my school years ended.  Those grades don’t mean anything anymore.  All that I am left with is my true self; greater than any story I could ever tell, and more abundant than any need I could ever conceive of.


The Day The Universe Divulged My Secrets

One Way

For something new to come into your life, space has to be created. For example, if I want to have a new relationship with an acquaintance, but I already have set parameters about how we function together, there is no space for a new way of being together to arise. If you want to gain new understanding about your life, your work, the world, space must be created by releasing the old understanding. For me this translates into declaring out loud to the ether, “I don’t know anything!” Which is often followed by, “For real, this is crazy. I have no idea what is going on!” For you this may sound different.

By vocalizing that you do not understand, you create an opportunity for new understanding to present itself. This can also sound like, “I do not understand. Please show me!” Several years ago I experienced an incident on a city bus that prompted my declaration of “not-knowing.” It is not a story I tell at parties, because I still do not understand it. But the beauty of its consequence continually reveals a world more wondrous than I could have thought up.

As I was sitting on a bus one hot summer day in Chicago, I overheard two girls talking behind me. I wasn’t paying a great deal of attention to them, but the conversation took an abrupt turn, and admittedly I went into full eavesdrop mode. They began telling my life story, the story that I told myself about my life at the time. It happened all of a sudden; in the middle of a normal conversation one of the girls started discussing a girl she knew. She described her relationships in detail. There were even timelines. What was more, she was telling the story of fear I had been operating on. There were tales of betrayal, mistrust, and secrets, along with the faults in this person’s character and how it was affecting her relationships. Although it is several years later, I cannot bring myself to recount the exact story the girl on the bus regaled to my eavesdropping ears, because it still feels too personal. Too many fears and perceived flaws divulged.

The story ended and the girls quickly exited the bus through the back door. I tried to get a glimpse of them. At first I thought, “Was that someone from my hometown? Did I go to high school with these people?” I couldn’t get a good look at them as the bus sped away. I was left completely and utterly baffled, and slightly afraid. There was no good explanation for the event.

I never found out who the girls were, whom they were really talking about, and why my life related so closely to the story. Logically, I knew it wasn’t an actual story about me. Then the question became, “Who has such a close life experience to my own?” I had never encountered such a mysteriously inexplicable moment in my entire life. After the initial horror that came from hearing my greatest fears spoken aloud to me on a city bus for all to hear, I reached a point where a decision had to be made. I could drive myself crazy by trying to find a logical explanation with my thinking mind, or I could let it go, and admit that I had no idea what was going on. Because it was such an unbelievable occurrence, I decided to relinquish my need to explain it away, and just not know.

That letting go, of the idea that I had to know everything, created the space that allowed my true self and a new way of experiencing life to begin to emerge. Life started to become more and more miraculous. I was able to relinquish past fears, because after all what did I know anyway? I was able to let go mistrust, and love the people in my life more fully than I had ever let myself before. From admitting that I did not understand, the universe began to show me new ways of understanding. When life showed me that I had no idea what was going on, it in turn started to present a new reality.

I had been putting restrictions on life. When you put parameters on the universe, you restrict the fullness of reality from presenting itself to you. You leave no room for your highest potential to manifest in your life. Over the years I have become comfortable with the “not-knowing.” What would happen if you let go of some of your own thoughts about how things are? What would life be like if you knew nothing about it, created no barriers? The simplest way to invite a new life situation your direction is to relinquish your firm understanding about how your current life is or should be.