Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Uninvited

The morning coffee was dark and perfect.

Sunshine? Check!

Family happy? Check!

I was reading my morning digital dose of news, email, and random whatnot when I heard: “You’re getting fat!”


“You heard me; fat!” said the voice with authority.

I looked down. “Well, squishy around the equator maybe, but...”

The morning’s peaceful pace became interrupted with critical self-doubt and now a moment in taking my own personal inventory.

I remember back-in-the-proverbial-day a commercial for a popular breakfast cereal professed if you could “pinch an inch” (around your middle) you may need to lose weight. Well I guess that means that if I can grab a fistful like I was harvesting a Nerf Football from my midsection, I may have issue! The inventory continued for a moment, and then I reflected that I really could care less about the unsolicited opinion of this person, and with my own authority banished him from the room.

(The antagonist was me.)

The episode forgotten for the moment, a few ticks of the clock pass, the day progresses.

The top was down on the convertible as I ventured downtown to stroll among the artists and uninhibited at a local community festival. Reaching in my pocket, I made sure I had the proper supplies before locking up and leaving my car behind for the 5 block hike to the event.

Wallet, keys, iPhone, earphones, and a few dollars spending cash; all this accompanying the freedom of a guy on his day off were plenty enough to satisfy.

“Loser!” said the familiar voice.


“Not only are you are loser, but a broke loser!” The diatribe continued: “Real men work for a living and don’t waste their time here. How many dollars do you have? If you were working now, you would have at least double that!”

“Dad, where in the hell did you come from?”

No Answer.

I realized I didn’t have to listen. The only leverage an opinion has is our acknowledgement of it. I don’t care how he found me after all these years, but all I knew is I did not have to listen. I turned to continue as I had intended. I had what I needed and proceeded through the gates of the festival. The breeze, the sun, the music, and the aroma of fair food were reward enough for my efforts. For now I have enough.

What I realized in the reflection of these two incidents is how frequently these unsolicited and uninvited opinions can surface. The interesting thing is I am frequently alone. How is it these voices enter our space in an attempt at our disruption?

I noticed how often we are subjected to the voices of those whose words have become an anchor. I also wondered why they endure and resurface repeatedly often causing moments of self-doubt. A lot of times I found they come from people who we currently, or once loved and cherished. (Sometimes the onslaught has our voice.) The opinions of those we so feverishly fought to manipulate into a favorable glow that surrounded us. Why are the kind words of encouragement often found at the back of our closets?

Amazingly I have been called: fat, old, worthless, broke, selfish, and a cornucopia of less-than-desirable labels by people or voices that were not even in my presence. I was often unaware or at least at peace with my situation prior to the critique. They were voices from people past, sometimes the media, perceptions of society, and opinions of strangers, loved ones, and ones I desired to love, even myself. They can be also found in magazine ads, billboards, and late night infomercials. They often liked to submit their opinions when I was alone or feeling empowered trying to throw off my balance.

I call them now “The Uninvited.”

I find when I doubt, critique, or argue with myself, I am only allowing these uninvited guests to ruin my party. Any energy we give to these uninvited opinions whether past, current, or conjured simply distract us from our present potential. Healthy self-evaluation is one thing. Emotional shredding is yet another.

Opinions can only manifest themselves when we start to wrestle with them.

Fat? No. Nerfy? Maybe.

Broke? According to whose opinion? I feel like I am still the luckiest redneck at the rodeo.

Who is in the room with you? Were they invited?

I consider myself lucky that now I do not entertain my uninvited guests. I have a huge bouncer at the door called “Awareness” who often is able to keep them at bay on the proper side of the velvet rope. Some occasional sneak in the back door and are asked to leave or are thrown out.

For those of you who are invited: I will be the “squishy” guy with a pocket full of change and his fingers in his ears enjoying himself.


Shannon O'Donnell said...

I absolutely LOVE this post. In fact, I read it twice before commenting! There is wisdom here - lots of it - and we all need to hear it more often. Thank you! :-)

YogaSavy said...

Those voices always have a way of creeping in but luckily they do not stay for long thanks to Awareness!
thank you for this post

Healing Morning said...

I just wrote a comment & it poofed on me. Let's see if I can get it all written down again. I don't always make it over to your blog to leave a comment as often as I would prefer, but rest assured that I do read every post. I subscribed to Feedburner email delivery to make sure I don't miss a single article of yours.

I have a pair of magically endowed boots that I keep handy to don whenever someone or something attempts to steal my sunshine. Just the mental image of pulling those powerful boots on & delivering a swift kick to the transgressor never fails to make me laugh and restore my sunshine.

Nerfy? Perhaps, but we all have nerfy areas if we're honest. And you know what? Nerfy-ness isn't even detected when love leads the embrace. So, here's a cyber hug & enthusiastic invitation for you to imagine up your own pair of magical boots when necessary. Sunshine rules the day and my life is always made brighter by your words. As always, keep writing my friend!


Timberwolf123 said...

Ah Tony,

It is amazing the voices we can hear. They are usually reflections of our past that we've never true let go of. I've slayed many of the same demons & most often it's my Dad but as you noted I acknowledge the voice & then ask it to leave. Sometimes these voices are truly our own self talk & we need to understand where the feelings they represent are coming from. Often it's some self doubt that we've suppressed & in those cases we should have a dialogue to try & understand where the doubt is coming from....then we move beyond the doubt into a new awareness & onto a better life.

Thanks as always for sharing.



Mansi said...

Thanks for this post, Tony. It inspired me to write one:

-C said...

Wow! You are really good at this whole writing//blog thing! I'm new but wow do I look up to you! If you have any tips I would love to hear them!! Your amazing :)