Last night, I did something, probably one of the craziest things that I have ever done, and the most profound. Last night, I stood on the sidewalk in downtown Scranton, during our First Friday event, and I was blindfolded. I held my arms open wide, and had a sign up:
And, what happened after that will be the subject of many, many blog posts to come. It was a completely vulnerable, amazing experience. I waited, and stood, and people came up to me, only a couple at first, and then it grew. People that wanted, needed, or were offering, a hug.
Some people came into my arms easily, after letting me know they were standing close to me, either by a phrase, or a sigh, or a whisper to a friend. Some grabbed my hand before they came into my embrace. And, with all of them, I fully embraced them. Wrapped my arms around them fully, tall or short, small or bigger, I curled all around them.
Before I arrived there, I felt a little bit afraid. What would it be like to be standing there, completely vulnerable? Knowing that anything could happen? Knowing that I was taking away one of my sense, my sight, in order to go through this? I asked Brenda to be there with me, and she chronicled it with pictures, and got to share in the full experience herself.
All day today, I have not been able to stop thinking about the experience. The fact that my first hug was a small baby. The young man that hugged me, I think for a full minute, tight and full, not wanting to let go. The emotion of connecting in that deep, physical way with complete strangers to me.
What I realized today, among many other things, is that in the moment of standing there in my vulnerability, and opening myself to a world that I know, but I don’t know, I was choosing between fear or peace. In every breath, and every sound that I sensed around me, I got to actively choose to be peaceful. To have no expectations and to know that anything could happen, and that I knew that it would all be magical.
For two hours, I stood there, and it was complete bliss. I could have stood there even longer. It was engaging and addictive, and so necessary for the world that I encountered, and for me.
I actively reminded myself how good it feels to open my arms to the world, all of it.