A few weekends ago I got to spend an amazing weekend in Austin, Texas, participating in a Gathering of Wayfinders with Martha Beck.
I felt pulled to the event the moment I read about it. That didn’t prevent me from coming up with dozens of reasons why I shouldn’t spend the money, take the time, or trust the call of the wild that insisted I make my way to the Lone Star State.
Fortunately, reason can’t hold a candle to instinct.
My desire was to find my tribe, those people who “get me” without explanation. As I stepped into a room filled with 500 coaches, I knew I had found them.
Conversations were immediate and intimate and none of us let the other get away with anything. We are, after all, trained to help others see what is hard for them to see in themselves.
We are also trained to know “if you spot it, you got it.“ Whether it’s something we love or something we loathe, we respond to what we recognize.
We won’t heal the world by fixing it. We fix the world by healing ourselves.
I watched Martha work with person after person. She took their greatest challenges or frustrations and turned them around to find the places within themselves that were suffering the same fate.
“What should be done about it?” became, “What can I do about it?” The answer was the directive. “Start here.”
The relief of knowing I don’t have to save the world was quickly replaced by the responsibility of saving myself. The best way I know to do this is to let my freak flag fly.
It doesn’t mean putting all my outrageousness on display at all times. But it does mean trying to blend, when I was born to be different, will eventually snuff out the brilliance that begs to shine through at the oddest moments.
Flying your freak flag takes tremendous courage.
None of us want to risk the social disgrace of being outed as unusual, eccentric, strange, weird, cra-cra, or unhinged. But really, who among us isn’t? Who hasn’t had thoughts or experiences that those who know and love us advise to keep to ourselves?
I suppose what happens in Austin should stay in Austin, but what happened to me was so subtle, I could easily have missed it. I connected the dots that led me from one leap of faith to another until I found myself at the JW Marriott, cavorting with my tribe like I knew the way home all along.
The truth is, I did. And knowing that changed everything.
Try as I might to convince myself I’d been lost for years and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, that was simply not true. I cleverly sprinkled clues throughout my life to remind me where I parked the mother ship. I also managed to find my fellow trackers in the trickiest of terrains. I remembered I had superpowers just in time to activate them. And all the while I’d write and share these stories when I dared.
Then I’d forget everything and go back to blending.
But in Austin,the more I allowed myself to believe impossible things, the more likely they were to happen. The weekend was a series of synchronized connections and coincidences. If I needed to know something, someone would tell me. If I needed to meet someone, she would show up. If I needed an Uber driver, he was already at my location. All I had to do was to suspend my disbelief, be present, open, and willing to trust.
Okay, that last line may have rolled off your tongue as easily as it flowed out my fingertips, but it’s taken me a lifetime of practice to even begin to master. Being present and open and trusting when I’m in a new city is as hard for me as not trying to blend when I’m in a small town.
But it can be done. Especially in Austin. The music, the mood, the food, the warmth, and the water will work their magic and you’ll have no choice but to surrender to it all. At least that’s what happened to me.
Of course, the real test of any trip is how I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This time instead of pretending nothing had changed, I acted as if everything had changed. When Bob picked me up at the airport, I said, “Hi, honey. I’m home.” And then I added, “You may want to strap in. It’s going to get interesting.”
Bob, being quite familiar with my freak flag, he just laughed and said, “Welcome home. I missed you.”