Hey Rebel with Applause–
I was driving the boys around Holliston, Mass, last week.
It’s got all the New England chahm and just enough pothole patches to make it feel accessible. 🏡
This is what I mean—a few weeks ago we drove through Manchester-by-the-Sea on our way back from Gloucester, and I was like, y’all this is too much.
When I stopped at the full service gas station to pump my own gas thank you very much, the circa-long-time-ago houses nestled around me were precise, preened pictures dripping with window box flowers reflected in their preserved runny glass windows.
The sea peaked between steep-pitched rood lines, and the breeze swayed the weeping willows’ shaggy haircuts just so.
IT WAS TOO MUCH!
It was like one time on tour in Sacramento when I was making that tour money, and my friend Tregoney Shepherd and I did a gastronomical junket through Napa and San Francisco.
After three days of foie gras and micro greens paired with a perfect Sauvignon Blanc, I needed a fatty cheeseburger and a milk shake.
But so far, Holliston has a solid mix of make-you-wanna-puke-in-the-best-way charm while you still feel like you better be on your game when you order your large Dill-icious turkey sandwich at the Superette. (AND they have dollah cawfee ☕️).
So, we’re on one of the main drags, and I’m imagining what’s in the display case at Gaetano’s Bakery and what kinda beers they got at Crafted when I spot a little sign that says Aesop’s Fable BOOK store 📚👀over a door tucked around the curve and on the lower level of this building. AHHH!
Too late, though, I missed the street, so I drove a big loop around town and decided to pass by again when I headed home.
As I approached the little enclave de commerce again, I missed another opportunity to turn on the little semicircular back street where Aesop sat, so I made my way around to the other end and made a right.
While I wasn’t about to extract both toddlers from their carseats and explore on foot, my search was rewarded with the excitement of an indie bookshop visit in my future, and I scoped out some of the other back-basement businesses in the building.
There was a mom and her 12-year-old kid walking their dog on the sidewalk, and I thought, that’s sweet. Why are they looking at me sideways?
I found out when she flagged me down through my open window and said, “Hey there—you’re driving the wrong way down a one-way street.”
My NC license plate and I turned around in the nearest parking lot and headed back past the bookstore in the correct direction where I saw the prominent do-not-enter/one way sign that I’d missed while assessing Holliston’s quaint-meets-down-to-earth score.
As we drove past stone walls and slowed down for a wild turkey crossing, I noticed how my body felt when I learned of my traffic infraction.
My stomach tightened up. The muscles in the front of my neck felt all pins and needles like your foot waking up. And my tongue got all acidy.
My face flushed, and I felt a similar sensation as the time Jeff Lawrence pushed me white-shorts-butt-first into a doo doo brown mud puddle in first grade in front of a hoard of cackling second graders.
And I thought to myself—what’s up with this intense feeling when I find out I’m doing something clueless and technically wrong in a new place?
What does doing something wrong in public view bring up?
Why’s this embarrassment so inTINSE? (You gotta say it in New Zealander dialect.)
Then, of course, I thought about you and how you must feel when you try to learn a new thing with your voice or take a risk in an audition or wonder what choice’ll be most effective—
But we get stuck because we imagine mean table people holding our career fate in their hands rather than a well-meaning pedestrian warning us we’re about to careen into an intersection where no-one’s expecting a car to careen.
What did you learn about being wrong?
What did that mean for you? And do you experience a shame body takeover when you do something a lil embarrassing in front of folks?
I’m just curious.
I don’t have a solution to stop it—It’ll happen to me again.
I mean, it did this week when I helped myself to coffee in the school cafe where I thought a colleague told me that faculty got free coffee. See?
I’m gonna be playing the I’m-new-here card for at least five years.
But here I am—telling you about it. I made it. Phew.
So the trick is to be willing to feel the feels, learn that street is one-way next time I go to Aesop’s, and that I have to get my free coffee at the other spot between 7 and 9am.
Also reminds me of that time I learned how to make a right turn on my bike in London traffic the hard way. That was an indelible lesson.
I’m remembering a thing that Barbara Deutsch taught me. She told me to call fear discomfort. You can handle discomfort, she said. Yep.
That helps me move forward.
This new thing? Discomfort. I’ve done that before. I can move through this.
See if that helps you.
When you feel scaredy shamey—discomfort.
Oh yeah, I’ve done discomfort before. I’ve done hard things before. I can walk through this. Might need some of Charles Shaw’s finest and Ben and Jerry’s, but I can do this.
Yes, yes you can.
And remember–there’s only one you. And folks need to hear the story that only you can sing.
ps For this reference-heavy missive, here are some links for the above-named locations:
Aesop’s Fable Bookstore
Queen of useful career and life tools Barbara Deutsch
pps I made it through week one at BoCo Berklee–Loving the place and my students. I’ve also got a little bit of time in the week to teach you, so email me back here if you need a lesson! We’ll get you on the books.