On Perspectiving Crushes & True Belonging

A few years ago, my husband introduced me to author Neil Postman. I developed what my sister calls an “academic crush” on Postman, special ordering and reading almost every book he wrote.

Postman taught me many things, foremost among them that “perspective” should most accurately be considered a verb. Since reading Postman, I have aimed to perspective better, and cherished those teachers–local and global–who help me improve my perspectiving skills.

(WordPress’s spellcheck, not having read Postman, informs me “perspectiving” is not a valid word. Little does it know … !)

In late 2017, I checked out Antifragile from my local library and promptly academically crushed on its author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. While Postman introduced me to some of the currently underappreciated wisdom of the ancients who paved the way for us, Taleb got irreverently explicit about it.

He introduced me to cognitive biases, which, far from being superficial, fundamentally shape everything humans perceive and thus do. He taught me to be wary of both Bell curves and all the human cognitive biases that sustain the kingdom of the Bell curve.

My current academic crush is on Brené Brown, who has helped me massively enhance my ability to perspective. In fact, as I write this, it occurs to me that my “academic crushes” might more accurately be called my “perspectiving crushes.” My enthusiasm for these authors’ works is based on my appreciation for the many ways their skilled perspectiving dramatically shapes my own ability to perspective, enabling me to see the world in new and exciting ways … to uncover all the abundant mystery that still remains within it.

In my last post, “Choosing Comforts Wisely,” I explained the Brown-inspired process by which I’d come to understand that “I cannot choose between courage and comfort. For me, they’re a package deal.”

I’d read Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging several weeks ago, but wasn’t sure I’d really grokked “true belonging.” Sure, I got that it was the exact opposite of “fitting in,” but my getting-it was very shallow.

Listening to Brown on this Chase Jarvis podcast earlier this week, I heard something that made me go, Oh! OH! That’s what she meant, in that book!

Around the 25-minute mark, she says, “After the first time that you act to brave the wilderness, you pull away from what a group of people thinks–maybe it’s your creative community, it’s your critics–the first time you pull away and find power in standing on your own, I think your heart is marked by the wild. I think you belong in and to the wilderness in a different way, because every time after that when you choose fitting in over belonging to yourself, it’s painful.”

In my last post, written before listening to this podcast, I wrote that “I can’t actually have comfort without courage. I can have the illusion of interpersonal comfort, but I cannot have genuine intrapersonal comfort. For me, then, choosing courage is central to enduring, actual comfort with myself.”

After listening to that podcast, I understand that comfort in courage is my own true belonging.

My heart has been marked by the wild, and if this doesn’t yet make much sense to my head, my heart groks it … and I am grateful.

2 thoughts on “On Perspectiving Crushes & True Belonging

  1. In my first post here, I mentioned deleting my old blogs because blogging had come to be very unhealthy for me. While this post contains personal elements and others are apt to do so, it’s a process-oriented personal: What are the processes by which I’m growing (growth being one of my core vales)? Who’s modeling these processes for me? Where? If my answers can be nearly as helpful to others as they have been to me (and I feel inspired to write about them), they’re worth sharing.

    By contrast, personal, non-process details will not be prominent here. There’ll be more reference to non-process details than details themselves.

    Why? Brown gets to this in a quote I read a few weeks after deleting my earlier blogs:

    “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: ‘Who has earned the right to hear my story?’ If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”

    A small handful of people has earned the right to hear my story. From those people, all comments are welcome; because even their critiques (of my acts, never my self) are reflections of love, I trust them wholly and will entertain the questions they ask me as questions worth exploring. That’s intimacy. It’s earned, and each of the people on my 1″x1″ list of names has earned, over and over again, the right to hear my story.


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