This week, I’ve been doing some thinking about the trust that we put (or don’t put) in complete strangers. I happen to be a person that trusts blindly and fiercely. I also fall in love on the regular and bruise my own dumb heart. I’ve attributed that personality trait to my artistic training, saying that I’m a professional at being open and vulnerable. I plan to write about those things soon, but I’m actually not sure that they’re interconnected. I think some people are just wired to trust more easily than others.
Sometimes, that’s great. The other day, a woman approached me during the height of noon sun. She asked, “Babe, am I sweating?” If she had been a man, I would’ve told her that I was not, indeed, a baby pig, and I didn’t have time to care about her bodily functions. But the unspoken bond of womanhood compelled me to giggle and say, “Yeah, I hate to say it, but your face is melting off.” At that, she began dabbing with a tattered tissue, which promptly disintegrated and adhered to her sweat. It looked like she had undergone a shaving disaster. Or walked through a room in Willy Wonka’s factory where tragedy struck hard. I laughed louder. She asked if I could help her, and I did. I picked sweaty tissue off that woman’s face until she was clean and ready to rumble. She was still lost, and I guarantee that the sweat kept pouring, but in that moment, we were so present with one another.
Animals trust each other all the time. With even a basic knowledge of ecology, you can see how animals regularly use symbiotic relationships to thrive. About a week ago, I was weeding under a tree when a large bug fell from the sky. Right as I began to investigate and see that it was a cicada, I heard a loud buzzing. Maybe the loudest buzz I’ve ever heard. If you read my first post, you’ll know that my love for bees is new. That buzz freaked me out big time, so I jumped up and away from the dive-bomber cicada. Down swooped a wasp unlike any I had ever seen. I now know that this cicada killer wasp is the largest wasp native to North America (Google a picture! Do it now!), and it’s also a pollinator, so don’t hate. The wasp paralyzes the cicada, takes it to a secluded place, and lays eggs inside him or her. The cicada doesn’t actually die until the eggs hatch and the wasp babies eat their way to freedom. Like… WHAT?! So gnarly. This is definitely an example of parasitism, but there’s nothing wrong with the wasp’s techniques. It’s how they survive and compete as a species.
Yet with humans, feelings get hurt when the line between trusting and using becomes blurred. When a woman walks into a store and asks for fashion advice, it’s trust. When two people end up on different pages about the terms of physical intimacy, it’s being used. (Side bar: the deciding factor in this example is often consent—an element that is extraordinarily important, and should never be belittled or misperceived) When a person pays for coaching or access to specific knowledge, it’s trust. When a human plagiarizes, it’s considered using. It’s an interesting distinction that we make, and an especially interesting line to ponder. It’s also fascinating how perspectives can shift, allowing a relationship that was once viewed as trust to be redefined as being built on using one another.
It’s sometimes a matter of how much you divulge. People can feel used if they didn’t want to carry the weight of too much baggage and it gets laid on anyways. Therapists and best friends are unique, incredible beings because there’s seemingly no limit to what they will hold. They’ll keep holding that baggage until their legs give out, and then they’ll go running for a cart to keep piling it up. (May therapists and good friends be showered in love for they are divine.)
I guess the conclusion to this thought train is that we’re language-centric beings. Words hold so much power, and the way that we’re heard in the world affects people. We’re talkin’ life-altering power.
So here are a few words for you to remember this week:
Live richly, not for riches.
You are loved.
Your voice matters.
This world is beautiful like a pond, and the scum is more visible than the weird little tadpoles.
You are beautiful just as you are.
You are enough.
Now enjoy this adorable talking squirrel. Take care of yourselves, tadpoles!