Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There's toilet paper on your shoe.

We all know the image.

     Someone comes out of a public restroom, a length of toilet paper in tow, stuck to his or her shoe. Just recently relieved, this dear soul isn't aware of the unexpected accessory following in step like some devoted white, fluffy puppy. Bring this companion to his or her attention, what is the response? :)

"Do you know you have a trail of toilet paper on your shoe?"  OR
"Do you know you have a small seedling of spinach between your teeth?" OR
"Do you know your zipper is down? Love the boxers with the little yellow ducks."

     If you are familiar with the Johari window, then you are aware of the idea that we are not fully aware of who we are entirely, whether it is a behavior, a gesture, a preference or a characteristic or...

     Years ago, my students informed me that every time I made a point in class, I adjusted my tie. Surely not. I paid attention, and I did indeed punctuate my points with a tie adjustment! So, does awareness demand change? I could continue to happily adjust my tie, stop the behavior (if I remembered to), stop wearing a tie, stop making points in class altogether or punctuate points with some other behavior, like clearing my throat or snapping my fingers.  

     To become more fully aware, a catharsis, an epiphany, a wake up call or a jump start are helpful. Such moments of seeing beyond, behind or through the veil of unawareness, ignorance or blessed innocence may be yet other catharses.

     (Yes, "catharses" is the plural of "catharsis"; I looked it up so I would be aware. Now I am. I wasn't aware of its plural form a few minutes ago, so writing this blog became a catharsis, making me aware that I did not know the plural of catharsis, so I chose to become aware because I also realized that if someone reads this, and I misspell the plural form, I might lose credibility, and that would be uncomfortable, so now I'm aware of my insecurity about losing credibility which makes me wonder why that is important in the first place. Will this never end? Probably not. So there.)

     So, can I create a catharsis? I suspect I can if I choose to try something new, read, write down my words as they flow in my stream of concscientiousness. What might new awareness bring about?

     "I had no idea I liked anchovies right out of the can!"
"Imagine that, all of this time I thought I was an extrovert. No wonder being around people actually wears me out."

     My roommate in college was from another country, a country in which wearing deodorant was considered quite unmanly. Without question, with the resulting, almost solidified funk, a person could find our room easily, even blindfolded, in the dark, and walking through the haze of a pizza delivery. We guys in the dorm, suffering his notable "fragrance" felt it best to inform (make him aware) that in this culture, it is okay to not stink, especially if he wanted to actually get some dates, which he did desperately. Yep, awareness brought some real relief: we could breathe and he could date.

     Some would suggest  awareness brings wisdom, positivity and safety; others suggest awareness brings dissappointment, negativity and insecurity. I have experienced both paths, yet I am confident many other paths exist in the light of awareness.

     Finally, I suggest that awareness also finds its way to us in subtle ways. We may never know or know fully why a feeling, belief, habit or any of life's intricacies are made manifest, not that we need to know, but I am intrigued with the idea that the unknown can be unknown, and then present itself, and quite possibly as a gift when least expected. 

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