When your world is actually a series of interconnected smaller worlds, sometimes mixing them up doesn’t go so well. I have lots of worlds of varying sizes, populated by different people. And I usually keep them quite separate. I don’t think it’s a conscious choice. It’s not that I find it stressful, it’s just that I don’t ever think of blurring boundaries. Lately, though, I’ve been doing a lot of mixing and it’s taught me stuff about myself that I didn’t know, or didn’t admit to knowing.
Last night was a case in point. I was the only one at the table who knew everyone else there. Sitting with me were friends I’ve known for 25 years and more and others I’ve known for 12 months and fewer. Some I see quite regularly; others maybe once or twice a year. The age span between the youngest and the oldest was about 20 years. We came from three different countries and all work at very different things. And I hadn’t given any of this much thought when I was issuing invitations.
Usually, when I’m in these sorts of situations, I tend to orchestrate, to conduct the conversation, to make sure that everyone is involved and engaged. A little like a workshop. But perhaps because I’ve had more practice than usual at it lately, or maybe because I didn’t have the energy, or perhaps because I’m finally growing up a little, I gave up. Yes, I did it for a little while, but then I stopped. I figured that everyone there was adult enough to find their own way, their common denominator, and they didn’t need me to guide them.
What was interesting though, was a comment made by a more recent friend about needing ‘Mary Murphy on steroids’ for something or other. This was greeted by those who have known me for much longer by pure, unadulterated, shock. The thoughts of me on steroids was simply too much.
As I sat back and watched the conversation unfold, it dawned on me that while many people know different facets of me (and because of what I do, I know a lot of people), few have a clear picture of the whole shebang. Including me.
Just when I think I have a handle on why I do what I’m doing, I do something that makes me question what I’ve done. It’s like I’m constantly changing and the person people meet now bears little if any resemblance to the me that they might have met 25 years ago. But something at the core remains unchanged.
This week has been mad – a series of late nights and early mornings has taken its toll. But at the end of it, I’ve learned from friends, old and new, that life is about trust – trusting yourself to make the right decisions given what information you have to hand, trusting others to accept you for who you are even if they don’t fully understand, and trusting the universe to bring you all together. For this lesson, I’m truly grateful.