At another point during the conference, I ended up siting at the bar with a crowd of people, including Linda Moulton Howe. We were all trading stories, and it was a really pleasant time. I told the story about seeing a young woman on a subway in New York city in 1984. (this very curious story is linked HERE). The punch-line of this memory was involved seeing that young woman again, and the second event was exceedingly synchronistic. Linda asked me if I had ever seen her again.
I thought for a moment, and then said, “I think she is here, at this conference.”
I explained about seeing the handsome woman earlier in the day, and how if I added about 22 years, she would very closely match the girl from the subway. Everybody at the table told me that I simply MUST talk to her. So the next day I walked up to a complete stranger and started a conversation by asking if she had gotten on the uptown E-train at West 4th Street during the summer of 1984. She laughed and said no.
We had a pleasant conversation, but she was extremely guarded. Typical of me, I spoke a lot, but she wouldn’t tell me anything about herself.
Years later we met her again, at another conference. It was at a point where I was having a hard time trying to make sense of my own conflicted experiences. We sat outside, away from the crowd, and I tried to explain my dilemma. I was meeting people at the conference, many with stories that I found outrageous and unbelievable. I recognized my own harsh judgments, and at the same time my memories were equally unbelievable.
She calmly spoke to me, and what she said has become a sort of mission statement for me. She said that these people all have personal experiences that are just stories and nothing more. They might be outrageous or simple, and I should be very cautious about these feelings of judgment, because I simply can’t know if they are true or not. All I can do is listen, and know that these individuals are all on their own journey. If I close the door on something just because it challenges me, I might be missing a very important clue, maybe even to my own story.
She was calm as she spoke, but she was also stern in a way that forced me to look at myself, and my own prejudices.