The Postscript: When one stops worrying what others think, life begins
Published 5:44 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019
By Carrie Classon
Nearly every day I talk to my friend, the tree. There, I’ve said it.
Every day I take the same walk into the woods; I see changes in the forest throughout the year and, at about the halfway point, I see my friend the tree, waiting for me.
“Hey,” I say. The tree greets me. (It’s subtle, but I see it.)
There was a time in my life when I might have been embarrassed to admit I talked to a tree. Heck, there was a time in my life when nearly everything embarrassed me. I would stand at my kitchen sink, washing dinner dishes and revisit my conversations from the day. (I don’t know why it was always while I was washing dishes, perhaps because that was one of the few times I stood relatively still.) The sensation of recalling something I should have said, should not have said, or should have said differently would cause me an embarrassment so keen, it felt like physical pain.
“Aack!” I would suddenly shriek, frightening the dog.
I’m not saying I am entirely over this.
One day, while explaining something to my tree friend, a trail bike rider came upon us unexpectedly. She looked at me. I could tell she knew I was talking to a tree. I looked at her. I smiled. She smiled back and kept peddling.
I felt that familiar rush of embarrassment starts to come over me. But then I thought, “Why? Really, why does it matter?”
I experienced something similar when I attended a new church recently. Because it always seems odd that everyone crowds to the back of the sanctuary, I took a seat near the front. There were kneelers in this church. I hadn’t had a lot of experience with kneelers but was willing to give it a try. I got the kneeler down and did whatever it was I was supposed to do while kneeling. Then I stood up.
My skirt remained where it was—on the kneeler, around my knees. I realized I was mooning most of the church, seated behind me.
I didn’t even know this was a thing that could happen.
I yanked up my skirt. “Okay, that’s settled. I’m never coming back,” I thought while fumbling through the hymnal.
But, after my heart stopped thumping from the humiliation, I thought about it for a moment. Yes, I was ridiculous. But did anyone think I deliberately dropped my skirt in church? No, no one would think that. They would think I was a goof, perhaps, and they would not be far off. They might feel sorry for me. They might think, “Oh look, that poor woman appears to have lost her skirt. Should I tell her? No, she seems to have it under control.” That’s what I would think.
I am now closer to sixty than fifty and, while I still get embarrassed, I have never in my life felt as indifferent to what others think about me. I have finally realized that no one actually cares what I do. If I am kind—if I do nothing to deliberately hurt anyone, but simply blunder my way through life as most of us do—my mishaps and missteps are profoundly uninteresting.
There is a wonderful freedom in this—realizing I am not nearly as interesting to the rest of the world as I used to think, realizing that everyone else is far too worried about how they appear to worry about me.
I’ll have to remember to talk this over with my friend, the tree when I see it tomorrow.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir, “Blue Yarn,” will be released in April 2019. Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.