There will come a time when all of a sudden, a light comes on, and just like that, we see things a bit more clearly. We see things in a new way. Maybe we grow. If anything, maybe we grow tired of being afraid.
Something happens that causes us to take notice of the things we never saw before. In whichever way this happens, a light comes on. Maybe we hit a wall. Maybe we just grew tired of living more of the same. Or maybe we just out grew our scene and at last, we decided to change it.
We look around, and suddenly the big bad wolf or the boogie man just isn’t so scary anymore.
I saw an old boss of mine not too long ago. He was standing on 42nd Street near 6th Avenue. He was in a suit and tie, which is unlike him.
I saw him differently this time. He wasn’t such a big man to me anymore. I wasn’t intimidated. I saw him, looking around as though he was lost. He was humanized and humble instead of loud and screaming at everyone, which is how he used to be.
I remembered him being much taller. Or maybe I just saw myself as so much smaller than him. Perhaps my intimidation created my perception.
I was inexperienced then. I was in the middle of new life changes and frightened. I was coming into a new position in a building that I was unfamiliar with, which, in fairness, the position called for more experience. And, in fairness, there are things, which in hindsight, I realized where I could have done things differently. I can see where my immaturity and insecurity created a problem. But lessons like this take time and experience. Experience creates growth, which is why I didn’t feel so small when I saw my old boss.
Maybe I’ve grown some. Maybe I learned some. Either way, this man was no taller or shorter than when I worked for him. He was the same size and so was I. My perspective changed though. So did my perception.
Just like that, a light came on and I saw no reason to be afraid anymore.
I remember looking at this man that I was so afraid of. His suit was an odd shade of blue. His tie was not well-tied and flipped around on his fat stomach with a white thread dangling in the wind from the back where the name label is sewn to the back of his tie. His facial expression showed a state of confusion, —and then he looked up at a building he stood in front of, as if it were too tall and too intimidating. I recognize that expression because I wore the same look when I worked for him before. Perhaps he understood a little more about what it means to be the low man on the totem pole now that he was fired and sent down to find a regular gig.
I looked at this man for a good second or two. I said nothing. Instead, I kept walking because it was nice to rid myself of an old inaccurate fear.
When I was a kid, I had a teacher that looked exactly like Fred Flintstone. True story.
He was big and loud and equally as angry. He bullied me once. He bullied me more than once to be honest.
I remember a time when he cornered me in the back of a classroom and pushed his big fat stomach right up against me. He told me that he couldn’t wait for the day when he saw me dead on the street somewhere or rotting away in jail. He told me I was a bum. A loser. Said I was never going to be anything but a bum and a loser.
(He was wrong.)
I was small and frightened. I was scared but when I realized all he was doing was posing and posturing, I came to the realization that he wouldn’t hit me. That’s when I spoke back and made noise. In fact, I made a lot of noise just in case he wasn’t kidding. I made noise to cause attention but also, if any of the kids in the hallway saw me, I could look cool, like a rebel or something.
I know he wanted to hit me. He even told me he wanted to.
He hated me. I hated him too. And I get it. I was a punk, kid. I get it. I probably deserved half of what he said.
I know who I was then and I get the frustration of others when they saw me act the way I did.
The truth is I was flirting with a girl, whom I thought might have liked me. I was trying to talk to her but the teacher’s interpretation was different. And who knows? Maybe the girl felt uncomfortable too. In all fairness, I’m not too sure. I was wild-eyed and high at the time.
I was inappropriate and uncomfortable. I was blabbering on perhaps, speaking gibberish and red-faced with drool on my lip. Life is odd while being 14 and taking large amounts of psychedelics.
The interaction was quick. The teacher swept in and pushed me into the classroom. He dealt his threats and laughed, almost sadistically, almost perverted, and then he swore someday, he would find me outside of the classroom and the school grounds and when he did, the teacher promised he was going to kick the shit out of me.
Decades later, I suppose just shy of this man’s retirement, I was in my old neighborhood and walking up the steps to one of the local eateries. And there he was, Fred Flintstone, live and in the flesh.
He looked the same. He looked angry and miserable. He still had that same old miserable sneer. He looked this way because he was this way.
Then I realized . .
What this man did to me as a boy said more about him than it did about me.
I saw him gray-haired and miserable. And at one point, or should I say had I seen him at another less-than-healthy time of my life, I might have introduced me to him. Maybe I would have said something to him.
Maybe I would have offered him the chance and said, “Why don’t you try and push me around now?”
Maybe I would have introduced him to the pain I felt just to see if he appreciated it.
Instead, I looked at this man. He was no longer this big, enormous person. He was dressed the same as I saw him last. He wore what looked like orthopedic shoes. He had on an off-white buttoned-down, short-sleeved shirt with dark brown pants. He was exactly the same.
I cannot say I took pity on him or felt badly. I just knew I wasn’t afraid anymore, which was a good feeling to have. I knew he was never really a threat. I only thought he was.
I have watched people yell and scream throughout my life. I felt fear and intimidation. However, once I learned more about my ability and once I learned more about what it means to find my sense of self; once I found my purpose and my direction, once I learned that I have capabilities too, and once I realized that people are often like smoke and mirrors, and that often, bullies are more bark than bite, —and once I learned that I don’t have to be afraid or intimidated anymore, that I can live exactly as I am without trying to pose or posture, and that I don’t have to try and compensate or embellish, and when I learned that everybody has their own thing going on and that my perception is often a frightened little kid, afraid to be picked on, this is when I learned that the big bad wolf really isn’t so big and bad anymore.
I ever tell
you about the time I saw someone that used to bully me when I was a kid. I used
think he was so much taller than me. And he was, back when I was 12.
I stood behind him at a burger place. He was the same. Still loud and still a wise ass. He said something to me, jokingly, of course. Only, he didn’t know it was me or that I used to be a scared little kid that was afraid of him.
It was amazing to me how small this man was. I was amazed how he looked which was nothing like I remembered. I guess my fear made him bigger than he was.
One day, a light came on. I saw things differently. I stopped giving in to the fear of threats. I stopped because I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I don’t ever want to live in fear of people ever again.
Beware the deception of our perception. It tells lies like the bad lover that says you’ll never have anyone if you leave me.
This is just not true
They say this because these words reflect them.
I say take their threats away and watch them shrink