One of the ways I describe reFirement is..
a process by which one is continuously learning something new in the moment and not just repeating old patterns.
I recently had an opportunity to reflect on just how powerful that learning can be. And it had to do with how I want to be when people try to help me.
It happened just a few days ago as I was ambling along a sidewalk in Guanajuato, Mexico.
I was on my morning walk to the gym enjoying the morning beauty of a lovely Mexican town. Suddenly, there was no sidewalk under me, at least so it seemed. For no apparent reason, I came down hard, landing in a way that was extremely painful.
Almost before I knew it, three Guanajuatan caballieros had lifted me to my feet. Propped up by these extremely kind citizen responders, instead of feeling grateful, I realized I would have preferred to just sit on the sidewalk for a moment and get my bearings.They asked if I was OK. Looking around sheepishly, I replied “Claro!” – “Sure!”
Then a Guanajuatan seniora appeared, and asked “Are you sure you’re OK?” To which I again replied “Claro!” When they asked me yet a third time, I replied with what must have seemed an annoyed tone, “Si! Claro!”
So what did I learn from this moment?
Learning number one. Almost to the gym by now, I realize that all the while these Guanajuatains were trying to help me, I was resisting the moment. That was a humiliating fall. With every recovering inch of my being, I didn’t want to be there. But, I now realized I could have focused on my good fortune in having (apparently) no broken bones. I could have just relaxed, laughed it off, and stayed more vigilant about the beautifully creative, but sometimes irregular sidewalks of Guanajuato.
Learning number two. By allowing the three caballeros to help me up before I was ready, I was resisting the internal wisdom of my body. I could have focused more on my need to honor my gut, and not be so ready to yield to the gentlemen’s need to have me on my feet again. Sure, I might have seemed stubborn to ask that they just let me sit there for a few moments. But what the heck. It was may fall, wasn’t it? Wasn’t I entitled to recover in my own sweet time and in my own way? What else can I do in the future to be more up front about my needs when people want to help me?
Learning number three. When I replied to their questions about being OK with a hasty “Claro!” I really wasn’t being honest with myself or them. Here they were, presumably offering to hang with me a little longer, perhaps even take me to the hospital for x-rays. Suppose I had said “You know, I’d love it if one of you wants to go with me to a nearby cafe for a cup of coffee and a chat. I’d be most grateful.” What a great opportunity that could have been to get to know some really kind Guanajuatans. How else can I allow people in when they want to help?
So here I am, in the process of reFiring looking back on a moment of vulnerability and realizing that for me, part of reFirement is to just relax into the moment no matter how embarrassing, and just learn from it about how I want to be when people offer help.
I’ve had several occasions to share this story, and each time I tell it and get people’s responses I learn something new about how I really want to be in reFirement.
Think back on your day or week. What recent event can you point to that you might turn an embarrassing moment into a positive discovery experience about how you want to be?