I walked into the ladies' room at a movie theater earlier today. A pretty asian girl was reapplying makeup at the mirror. She laughed at me. I froze. My body was frozen and my mind raced and my life reconnected with itself from earlier. I've been in a ladies' room before and everytime it's happened I've had an out of body experience, red cheeks, and an experience like floating in a pool of embarrasment as a waterfall of realization pummels me and I drown. She laughed at me and I left. I went to the safety of urinals behind door number two. I began to laugh at myself. I tried to remember if I had said anything seconds earlier, if the laughing girl had been laughing at something ridiculous I had said, hoping to save face. I think I may have said, "whoops, this isn't right," or something painfully obvious. I took longer than usual in the men's room, hoping to miss the worst-possible-scenario of us both walking out of our respective rooms into the lobby of a small independent movie theater and having to make small talk. What would I even say? How immasculating. It's hilarious how quickly every ounce of confidence I have can be swept away. It's not a big deal. It's hilarious.
Adrenaline shoots through you when you make a mistake. People try so hard to be cool, but all you have to do is walk into the wrong door and every square foot of cool which you've cultivated over twenty seven years of life can be burned to the ground. My mistake today wasn't a big deal. Social mores and I guess decoram stipulate which toilet room I have to use, not a moral authority. True embarrasment, humiliation, is a much more serious thing. It can lead to a life of regret or hiding as everyone seems to want to poke fun at something you can't control. I didn't have that experience in high school. Not that I was better than people who were being made fun of, but I just got lucky. I didn't screw up. I didn't have "an accident" in PE and get ridiculed for it for the better part of half a decade afterwards (that happened at my school to one kid). I kept my head down enough to not stand out in any way that might get my head on the chopping block of mercilous high school razzing.
We aren't naturally very nice to one another. The idea of making someone seem less than human in order to reaffirm the herd's superiority is as old as cavemen. We still do it. Anyone different, weird, or even unlucky is subject to our derision. Heaven forbid something embarrasing happens to someone we don't like. We pounce like Hyenas on a freshly wounded wildebeast. We are so insecure in our skin we have to cut the skin of others in order to feel anything at all. It's all so much effort. Trying to be cool, trying to make someone feel worse, trying to be RIGHT, it's all such a waste of time.
Learning to be secure is learning to fly. It's in being ourselves we find our freedom, our voice, and we learn how to play our part on earth. If you feel like you're working too hard at being a good person, you're right. If you feel you're trying too hard to fit in, you're right. Be yourself. It is my belief God created us to be ourselves. St. Irenaeus, besides having an amazing beard, was also responsible for one of my favorite sayings: "The Glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God." Just behold God like the mystic in you wants to do anyway. It's your heart's desire. You're hard-wired to long to participate in the divine nature and it's easy. Relax and just breathe Him in. Worry and embarrasment and shame are hard. Love and Joy and Peace are easy.
It's also totally fine to laugh at someone when he walks into the ladies' room.