Thursday, June 9, 2011

on courage, wishing and flirting

You must do the things you think you cannot do.

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'

What one has to do usually can be done.

-all Eleanor Roosevelt, via this post

I am going to be a bit more vulnerable with you than I’m in the habit of being. I feel ok doing this because I think I know my audience, and if I had all the time (and money for plane tickets) in the world, I’d probably sit down for coffee with each of you and spill about this anyway. So here goes.

Do you know what came to mind when I read each one of these quotes? I had some quick flashes about my dreams for my writing or challenges I’m facing in my professional development and habits, and about running a marathon. But the biggest challenge in front of me right now is this (don’t laugh): flirting. Ok, you can laugh now, because I did just now when I went back to read the quotes. Especially the one with the word “horror.”

Flirting comes easily to some people, but I am not one of those people. If we were together having that coffee, I could tell you some of the reasons for this, but writing them here is a little too self-indulgent, I think.

Instead, I will tell you about how I’ve been thinking about my openness to new things and new people, and how I want to be sure that as I age I stay flexible. Play will be important, I think, and yet doesn’t come naturally to my use-all-time-efficiently attitude toward life. Flirting is a kind of play that I’d like to learn.

Oh yeah, and there’s also this huge looming question of marriage, one that’s at times as heavy and tiresome as the June gloom we’re experiencing here in L.A. It makes me want to get back in bed and close the blinds until the sun starts to peak through and I can run outside and soak it all in — because I don’t know what the answer to the question is, and however hard I try I just cannot figure it out myself. Some trusted friends have suggested that flirting, while not the answer, could help my outlook. It could help me to bear with the gloom. The beach can still be fun even if the sun isn’t shining.*

The quote that stuck out the most is the one about energy to wish and plan. I’m such a planner (see the part about using time efficiently). Wishing, like flirting, seems frivolous; I’d rather pursue the possible, the concrete, the lasting. Are you making the connection with me? When it comes to my desire to be married, I just want to find the person and get it done. But it’s very possible that planning isn’t all there is to it, that I need some of that energy to wish and flirt and play and grow into it in some very intangible way.

Thank you for reading this very rough, journal like entry, and for having this virtual coffee date with me. And since we’re pretending to be curled up in oversized chairs (those are my favorite kinds of coffee shops) with steaming cups of coconut mochas or dirty chai lattes (I have a story about that to come), tell me what you think. What helps you to flirt and play? What do you think of when you read E.R.’s quotes about courage? What do you need courage for?

*Being single and desiring marriage isn’t all gloom. I enjoy my freedom, my friendships, and my work. But it’s still a very real question, an unfulfilled desire that has real weight in my life.


  1. I'm looking forward to your dirty chai story. I just had one this morning, but I didn't actually ask for it dirty, just with a shot of espresso.

  2. I went downstairs to the cafe to get one the other day, and my barista friend wasn't there, so my chai didn't get dirt-ified. It was so bland. Clean, I guess you would call it.

  3. I forgot to tell you that I like this post. And I've actually thought of it since reading it initially. I'm very intrigued by the idea of practicing flirting. It's not something most would think to do, but it definitely seems like it could be a learned skill.