I heard Martha Beck speak at an Oprah Winfrey event, O, in San Francisco in October 2008. Two of my dearest friends and I made a weekend out of it: we booked a hotel, got in Friday night, had a shopping blitz, dinner, drinks and amazing conversation with strangers at our downtown SF hotel, where we barely slept a wink thanks to the almost constant sound of sirens. It didn't matter. Those were the heady days pre-election 2008, when we were so excited about the possibility of Obama as our president, our eyes wide with excitement watching history unfold around us, being a part of a historic and momentous change. And we were going to see Oprah and all of the Oprah people speak, live, in the flesh.
I'd probably watched the Oprah show maybe five times at this point though one of our party is known to fill up her family TiVo with the show. I have nothing against Oprah, but went into this, not as a fan, but more like an eager passenger being taken to a place everyone had been many times. The excitement was palpable, as we walked in the door, the lines of chattering happy women waiting to check-in long but fast-moving. What would happen? I had no idea. I had a full dance-card, having signed up to hear all these different people speak. I was most excited to go see Stacy London of What Not To Wear, since that is a show I've been known to binge on, crying at the end of each one as a precious person's life is re-made thanks to Stacy and Clinton Kelly. It's such a simple formula and it gets me every time.
And of course, Stacy was wonderful, funny, lovely and transformative.
Transformative. That was the point of the whole weekend, and so it was moving for me to look around at all these glowing female faces of all races, everyone hungry for and open to transformation.
Those were heady times, right? We knew we were on the brink of an enormous national transformation. We could feel it coming. So how not to transform ourselves, too?
I had signed up to hear Martha Beck mostly because my girlfriends loved her and I wanted at least one session with them. I had some skepticism about her as a "life coach," even though I'm a person who loves coaching, who did a 6-month professional coaching of my own once, a coaching that profoundly changed not just Professional me, but Me me. Duh, since it's pretty much always Me me. From the moment Martha Beck opened her mouth, I had goose bumps. I cried. I felt this insane recognition of her like I'd known her all my life, like I'd been missing her without even knowing I'd been missing her.
If that sounds crazy to you, consider that that's not the first time that's happened for me. In fact, it has happened for me with greater frequency since I started yoga 9 years ago which gave me the opportunity to meet more people. It doesn't mean I fall in love with each person I meet -- far from it. But sometimes, sometimes, there's this prickle, there's this strong knowing within the first 15 seconds of meeting someone. It doesn't matter where he or she is from, what they do for a living, what they wear or drive or do in their spare time. There is a *something* about that person and we're fast-friends, true friends, locked together like magnets from the moment we meet. It happened when I met Michelle, it happened when I met Kristin, it happened when I carpooled to John Friend with Trixie. It happened with Martha Beck. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to tell Martha this, until now, in this way, but I told the others. I remember telling Kristin, within 10 minutes of meeting her, sitting in a tiny cafe in Oaxaca drinking cappuccinos with a bunch of other yogis, looking into her eyes and saying, "ohmygodiloveyousomuch."
I'm reading Martha's new book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, and the chapter I'm jumping around about the most so far is the one entitled, "You! You! You!" She is describing the experience of meeting someone for the first time and hoping her expression "looks relatively normal. Linky, beautiful and brilliant, sardonic and fierce, is not someone who seems easily disturbed, but if I showed what I'm feeling right now, it might alarm her." Martha is having what she calls a strong bout of "You! You! You!" -- that feeling of "having inexplicably emotional reunions with dear friends I've never met before, who live all over the world and seem to have nothing in common with me." Later on she says, "It's as if there's been a Linky Nkuna-shaped absence in my heart since I was born, a missing piece of my own soul's puzzle, and that piece is clicking deliciously into alignment." It's that feeling of wanting to take that new person you've met by the shoulders, that person you feel you've always known and will never have to live without again, and delightedly exclaiming, "You! You! You!" Or, in my case, "ohmygodiloveyousomuch!"
This is, naturally, exactly what I've been experiencing, and what I hope you've been experiencing, too, along your way, making new friends you feel like you've always had, filling out the corners of your heart. Martha calls it being part of the Team, meeting other Team members -- all of us on a mission, with our own role to play in saving our own lives and saving the planet. When I heard her talk about this idea of the Team the first time, live, I got goosebumps all over.
You! You! You!
So anyway, that's all. That's what I'm thinking about this morning in these spare moments before I have to get ready for work and another day of dealing with a sourpuss boss and tasks I'm not really crazy about, tasks that make me feel stupid, that bring me down from the high of the weekend until I'm standing about half my real height, which means I can barely see over the top of my desk. I'm tucking this delicious feeling I'm having right now into my pockets, hoping I can reach in all day and remember, stay standing tall (that's a relative term, obvy), thinking of all the great friends I have, the way we are all part of something so great, the way we love each other so much even if we don't see each other enough, how we're changing the world by just being who we are and getting better at it all the time.
I'm girding for the job, but it's OK because I've got you in my corner. You! You! You! ohmygodiloveyousomuch!