Last week I received the most wonderful gift in the mail. It was unexpected, and so it was all the more lovely (although, if you listened to This American Life this week, you might argue that unexpected gifts aren't always so delightful.) We receive a lot of boxes from Amazon--filled with diaper liners, wipes, food, puzzles, and sometimes even books, so when I first saw the package last Saturday my mind immediately began doing an inventory of things we might be expecting. But when I opened it I found a book I hadn't ordered, and a little note from a wonderful friend.
Mammy P knew I would enjoy Karen Walrond's The Beauty of Different: Observations of a Confident Misfit. The book is a mixture of exquisite photos and Walrond's easy stories on what it means to enjoy a person's differences--including your own. One of the early chapters, an interview with one of Walrond's former colleagues reminded me of an experience I had nine years ago.
I was attending a weekend-long training to become a crisis counselor at a sexual assault center. Needless to say it was an intense weekend, where thirty women, most of whom had been strangers before the session began, learned how to listen to each others intimate stories. At the close of the final day, on blank pieces of paper we had taped on our backs, we were asked to write something we liked about each other, something that made each person unique. So at the end of a hard weekend where we were challenged to learn a lot of new skills (which at times felt very powerful or a bit deflating, depending on your success), we were left with a piece of paper filled with amazing observations from new friends. I had just moved to a new city and didn't know anybody, but there I was reading this list about myself, seeing my differences through a new lens. Whereas I thought I talked too much, someone else observed that I was able to make new people feel as though we'd been friends for years. And even though I'd hated my smile for years and years, all of a sudden I was discovering that it was the first thing other people noticed about me, and not in the way I had imagined. It's good to get out of your own way sometimes, and just enjoy who you are. Holy cow that's hard to do some days.
Thanks, my darling, for sending this book my way.