Riding my bike on a sunny morning I see three boys coming towards me. Friends, in the age of 15 or 16 years old. As you know, especially being a woman, you can sense they will comment. Right in the middle of puberty they cannot help themselves. And sure enough, as soon as they pass me, one of them shouts a long ‘Meeeooooowww’ right in my face.
I laugh and before I can think about a reply a harsh ‘Wrafff, wrafff’, comes out of my mouth. The guys jump and almost fall from their bikes. This is something they had not expected, at all. I look behind me for a second and see them hanging over their handlebars. Laughing as hard as they can. And 16 year olds laugh hard and loud!
Much later I realized this was a perfect example of a centering moment. When you don’t think and act from joy within. I remember a story my good friend Tommy once shared: His school teacher friend told him that one morning her class had planned to drop their books simultaneously at one point during the lesson. Sure enough, at exactly 10 past 10 all students dropped their books on the floor. There was a loud BANG.
Instead of getting angry, or getting a heart attack, the teacher turned away from the blackboard, walked to her desk, calmly picked up her books and threw them on the floor. “Sorry, I’m late,’ she says and continues her teaching. I don’t know what subject she taught, but the best lesson was the one she had just shared. Don’t get angry, get even. But always with respect and from a place of center.
Yesterday I had a chat with friends about the confusion men feel nowadays about what is correct behavior and what is frowned upon as sexist. Of course there are examples that need no explanation. But it seems like we are overdoing it, as we tend to in the Netherlands anyway. I’m all for the ‘me too’ advocates. But as my male friends commented yesterday they feel like they have to ask everything before they can say something. It kind of takes away the spontaneity. ‘Is it OK if I tell you that you look nice?’ Or: ‘Ma’am, may we tell you: Meeeooooowww….’