Saturday, January 26, 2019

my red nose (2)

It took almost three years, but the red nose has finally returned.

It is currently colder than it was on that morning of April, 1 2016, but discouragement cannot be an option. The weather is not responsible.

After five red nose outings so far this year, with progressively challenging rules, I feel less and less anxious putting on and wearing the nose. I should wonder why the anxiety anyway since people generally do not seem to care much about what you look like. And if they do seem to care, they will most likely end up not say anything. For the most part, all you get is a curious look, a warm smile, or a repressed laugh. But no talking, at least not to me. Because ‒ and you know this ‒ you do not talk to strangers that you have no (good) reason to talk to.

Having the nose on in public has been an interesting experience. There is indeed a feeling of discomfort, but it has been nothing close to troubling. I don't necessarily feel happy nor sad. Even though I don't initiate conversations with anyone (at least not yet), my mind is more open to the environment. That is, unless I happen to be reading a book, because objectively, wearing a red nose does not really change much ‒ it's like wearing a pair of glasses. And after the nose goes off, there is not much a feeling of victory or success as there is of calm ‒ compared to the suffering that would have happened if the opportunity to wear the nose was passed up. It's like either you're in or you're out : there is no such thing as a neutral choice. And it's rather too late to say "I was not aware of this, so it's not like there was a choice to make."

But the bigger change that comes with the experience appears to affect your mind. Your perception of what you feel capable of doing and that of what you think about people's judgment of you changes. For the better. Put another way, you feel more liberated of your thoughts on what people would think and more able to do what you would not have dared previously.

The general public, in the metro or on the street, is one and the same: people you don't know. You get used to them more or less quickly. Rather, it is the colleagues at work that really make the anxiety go up. Perhaps it's the fear of stepping out of a very comfortable role in which they are used to seeing me and the fear of presenting something that is out there, something that others do not do. Oh no, what would they think? So far so good, they seem to find it amusing for the most part. And all this time I was fearing ridicule and disapproval. Silly me!

Beyond the fear, I am mostly trying to honor the idea around the red nose so that it does not end up in the wastebin like many before it. Repression has to stop winning this game.

Honoring the idea is essential given the charge that the idea carries. Firstly, the idea is mine. Secondly, it is unconventional. Thirdly, there is a sentimental aspect : the nose was gifted years ago by Corinne, theater instructor extraordinaire, who I joined wearing the nose in public for the first time when we took the metro after class one evening (and yes, I also love Corinne). And finally, the nose is red, so what does not fit in is made to stand out.

Here are some interesting reactions that I have gotten so far:

1) Just seconds after putting on the nose on my way to work, I ran into a lady.

Lady: What is that? ... What is that?
Me: In your opinion?
Lady: Is it to protect you from the cold?
Me: No, I love it!
Lady: Oh, ok!

2) While exiting a RER station, I got stopped by a journalist who had seen me some moments prior.

Journalist: Are you wearing that red nose in response to the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests and in solidarity of the (supposedly pacifist) gilets rouges (red vests) movement?
Me: No, it's personal. It's a personal expression.

He showed support for what I was doing, which I appreciated.

3) A colleague met me at the elevator on the ground floor at work.

Colleague: So, what is the punishment?
Me: No, it's an embellishment!

4) While I'm seated in the metro, a lady sees me and smiles. I smile back. She walks through the people separating us and comes up to chat.

Lady: Do people see that ... ?
Me: Well I don't know what people see ... I am not "people."
Lady: And why ... ?
Me: It's just a means of expression.
Lady: Well we see that and it makes one smile.
Me: That's great! Thank you!

She was lovely. And courageous.

5) While waiting on a metro platform among a line of people, one metro rolls by and it is full. The doors open up and I see a lady inside standing next a child, and she notices me. Smiling, she gestures to the child to look in my direction. He looks, and then smiles. What else to do? I smile back.

Friday, January 18, 2019

love and fear

When you are doing something that you love enough, you really are not thinking about fear.

You are just doing it. It's all love.

The next time fear visits while you are trying to achieve a goal that you consider worthwhile, take a moment to ask yourself the following question:

Maybe this is a goal that I should love more?

The best part is when you end up loving the thing that you initially feared.

Fear for a linchpin is a clue that you're getting close to doing something important.

‒ Seth Godin

Thursday, January 10, 2019

ace yourself

If you love something, you accept it.
If you love something, you care for it.
If you love something, you express it.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

happy new year

As a blend of old and new, I wanted to begin the new year by sharing my favorite sketch of last year.

Port de l'Arsenal
Port de l'Arsenal

The icing on the cake is that this is one of my favorite places in Paris.