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Friday, April 24, 2015

People Are All....People

Recently,  a friend of mine shared her life story at my kids at their youth group meeting.  They came home with a lot of exclamation point statements!  "Did you know...?!?"  "Did she tell you....?!?!?" Some of the things I knew about and some of them surprised me too.

It just reminded me that we all have a story.  We are boring as we think we are... interesting. We are all....people with interesting tidbits and twists and turns to our lives.  We are all...people....with a story to tell, and none of us should be swept aside.

Steve Hartman used to do a thing on my local news station in Minnesota where he would throw a dart at a map and then go wherever it was and  then randomly pick a name from the phone book.  That is whose story he would tell.  Whoever he just randomly ended up finding in any little, old, hole in the wall place.  They all had a story.  They were all interesting in some way.  You never knew what it was going to be just by looking at the person. That was sort of the beauty of it.

We really do all have a story.

I was reminded of that again, when Emily Phillips, that woman in Florida wrote her own obituary...and it went viral. It reminded me of the fact that even though we don't have any buildings named after us, or library wings dedicated to us, we all have a story.  We are all people.  We are all important. We are all interesting.

I have had interesting twists and turns in my life.  I have done interesting things.  I have traveled interesting places.  I have been wild and stupid.  But, I know, that for most people that see me, I am just a middle aged, overweight, mom to many.  That is all.  I am not really a "real" person anymore.

This seems to happen as you get older.  It also seems to happen as you gain weight.  You become invisible and a place holder or seat filler, in the eyes of the world.

Or like Alice, you are "just" a little old lady in a nursing home.

Except, nobody is "just"....anything.

It is easier to stuff people into a little labeled box than try to understand all the ways that they cannot and should not be labeled and fit into that neat little box.

I do it too.  Which is why, when my kids came home exclaiming about all the cool stuff they didn't know about my friend, I was determined to take more time to learn people'e stories and not label them and file them away to be forgotten.  Not just have them be invisible.  No just have them be seat fillers in my life.  Not just be  the little old lady/man from church.

We have all done interesting things.

We have all done embarrassing things.

We have all done stupid things.

We have all made bad choices that are funny stories now.

We have all lost people we love.

Don't just let yourself be stereotyped or labeled.

Don't let the world's perception of you be the only voice you listen to.

That is probably the more important statement of my two "don't" messages.  You will be stereotyped and labeled.  You will.  But, whether you choose to listen to or embrace those labels given to you from outsiders is the big thing here.  Don't let the world's perception of you by the only voice you listen to.

I am not just an overweight, middle aged mom.  I am much more than that, whether you choose to actually "see" me or not.  I need to remember that.

In the words of Emily Phillips....
"So in the end, remember…do your best, follow your arrow, and make something amazing out of your life. Oh, and never stop smiling."

My life is pretty amazing, but, I could do a better job of following my arrow.  So, I am going to work on that.  And, maybe, when I am old and gray, people won't forget about me.  I don't necessarily need strangers to come visit and show me video clips of my life, but, if it happens, I will just be sitting there smiling my Mona Lisa smile remembering all the awesome stuff I have gotten to do.

(By the way, did you notice that Alice and Emily have something in common?  They both talked about being happy, naked, and dancing.  Emoji LOL)  

Something I just might have to try sometime.