The Importance of Being Cool(ing)

This post has been a long time in the making; it appeared to me as a letter in early 2012 as I was daydreaming. I then told the person that the letter was addressed to about the beautiful letter that flowed to me. Not having mentioned any details I assured the person that I would put pen to paper. Year after year has passed and still no pen to paper. Twelve months ago I came up with the idea that I would gift this letter to them on my blog as a 40th birthday present. Long story short, 12 months passes very quickly and tomorrow is the said birthday.

There is a good reason that I have put writing this off, all of these thoughts and feelings have remained unsaid for years and I haven’t wanted to get this wrong as I’ve gotten a lot of things wrong in this relationship. So here goes, happy birthday muther f@cker!

This post is going out to one of the coolest people I have ever met, she’s so cool in fact that I herby shall refer to her as Cooling. Cooling and I go back well over 20 years, although we were mere acquaintances until one night at the moonlight cinema during the summer of 2005.

I was a miserable recently single divorcee who was uptight and in total ‘control’. After the film a few of us went to get a couple of quiet drinks. We quickly bonded and I started to open up about my divorce and how I was feeling. Just before midnight I said my goodbyes and got up to head home.

Cooling asked me why I was going so early; I explained that I had my car with me and didn’t want to drive home too late. She then utter a sentence that was to set my life upon a completely new trajectory. She said

“Fuck the car, leave it here and you can crash on my couch”.

I wish I could blame the disintegration of my marriage for my uptight state but truth be told I’ve always been uptight. Uptight and responsible. I drove there, the responsible thing to do was to drive home. And as far as crashing on the couch, I didn’t ‘crash’…even as a teenager I didn’t ‘crash’, why would I start now.

The questions kept on coming from Cooling about what was so important that I had to leave just as the night was warming up. The next thing Cooling did would cement the new trajectory that my life was about to take….she saw right through every bullshit excuse I gave her.

This is the thing about Cooling, she is a truth seeker. She sees right through the lies that people tell themselves and tell others. These are not vicious lies, and they are not even big lies, they are the kinds of lies that we define ourselves by. The kinds of lies that limit us.

I started hanging out with Cooling at time in my life when I was broken; to be pushed and to have my lies called out cost me very little. I was ready for a change and I was ready to question everything.

She saw through my fear and pulled out of me a realness that I had not connected with for many many years. And I’m not the only one, Cooling sees the the truth and realness in everyone she meets.

Everyone who meets Cooling thinks she is amazing, they respond to her the way anyone would if they met a smoking, drinking, swearing Mother Theresa; with appreciation and awe.

I’ve seen Cooling in conversation with A-List celebrities and with homeless people and she speaks to them the same way. Not unlike Mother Teresa she seeks out people’s story with a level of interest in their humanity that cultivates a sense of dignity in her subjects.

I’ve also seen her intently listening to people with extreme views very different to her own. I remember one night she was deep in conversation with a guy who was openly racist. Cooling asked him lots of questions and was interest in the person behind the fear and rhetoric. She challenged his views in a way that didn’t attack or diminish him. Who knows where that man is at with his beliefs today but the possibility that he walked away with a tiny seed of an idea was high; and here’s why.

Cooling sees the words and actions of people as separate from who they really are and this allows her to engage with people from all walks of life without judgement. Cooling sees the best in people.

Cooling lives completely in the moment without a care in the world for the concerns and responsibilities of tomorrow. She is eternally optimistic that things will turn out ok and she is passionate about finding the adventure and humour in any situation that she may find herself in.

Cooling is always the life of the party because she is the party. No matter where she is she is focused on bringing people together and having a good time. She is a traveller, she has travelled all over the world and has amassed a life time of stories and experiences. But at her very essence she is a collector and she collects joy and laughter…in actual fact she doesn’t just collect these things she gorges on them.

Cooling didn’t get the memo that most of us get about life not being one big party and that the holiday must end. There are plenty of life’s memo’s that Cooling hasn’t received. She didn’t get the you must settle down and be responsible memo or the suck it up and be miserable now and you’ll reap the rewards later memo. And she certainly didn’t get the do something that you really don’t want to do because it will make someone else happy memo.

Even as I think about these memo’s I can see that no child growing up would ever choose to live a life guided by such miserable and fear based beliefs. These are beliefs that our parents and schools teach us because their parents and schools and their parents parents and schools taught them.

Maybe Cooling did get these memo’s and just chose to ignore them. For even if she wasn’t indoctrinated by her parents there are plenty of people around her who will happily take up the cause. Shamefully I know this because I am one of them.

Cooling is the road less travelled. And the thing about people living a different life to us is that it brings into light the decisions we make in a way that can make us uncomfortable. Plenty of times I’ve judged her life and her choices to justify mine. Cooling has never judged my choices.

You can be different from Cooling without her being threatened. She will bless your choices safe in the knowledge that it won’t impact her, she won’t let it. Cooling is a freedom fighter, and shamefully the most common freedom she needs to fight for is her own. Many times I seen Cooling put under pressure to follow the memo’s, and frequently at my insistence. No matter who or what is around her she doesn’t waver from her own path in order to please others.

I’ve been a terrible waverer; like a lot of people I have lost myself in relationships because I was eager to please and saw compromising myself as being loving. It’s not loving, it is the least loving thing we can do.  This is why so many of us end relationships with such hatred and anger, we blame the other person for all that we have lost; “I gave up everything for you”.

Cooling will continue to make people in her life uncomfortable because that is the nature of fear when it is in the presence of freedom. We all say we want world peace; well this is how we do it.

We start with our own lives, in our own backyards with our own families and our own friends. We start by letting let the people around us make their own choices free from judgement and in the understanding that their choices don’t have to effect our who we are.

We all have the power to say no; Cooling says no all the time. A lot of us carry fears that by saying no we are being selfish or unloving. But it is the most selfless and loving thing that we can do. Through giving up the right of telling others how to live their life we also give up the responsibility of dealing with any fall out from their decisions.

What’s unloving is saying yes and then resenting our loved ones for the choices that were ultimately our own. For blaming them and using them as the reason that we are not living the lives that we desire. That’s were judgement lives. Judgement can’t exist in freedom.

So to Cooling, a modern day Mother Theresa, I say “Happy Birthday and keep on fighting the good fight”. And to all of the Cooling’s out there I say a big thank you to you for your dogged pursuit of truth, joy and freedom above all else.

By not judging us you leave us no choice but to judge ourselves, and this is very uncomfortable place but this is also where the change happens.