The Fear of Experience: a conversation between a Gentleman and his apprentice

“I learned that you don’t need to be perfect at it,

you just need to have self-confidence and a little or a lot of patience

and you can do anything…”

LCI Facade Project participant

The heat and humidity is almost unbearable but it hasn’t stopped me from my daily journey to my favourite coffee house. Today I happened upon a free life therapy discussion.

There are a few times when sitting in the company of complete strangers can be exhilarating, they are:

1. Humour. I have heard enough conversations where I wish the 1/4 British in me knew how to turn my face to stone; for whatever reason the more I try to keep my face straight the more that smile, heck, my LAUGH escapes me. Why not let a stranger make us laugh!

2. Insight. Folks, it’s not just Oprah, our friends, family and the local therapist who is insightful. For the cost of a coffee there is free therapy to be had my friends, free therapy.

So today I was in the company of two fellows. I didn’t want to cramp their style and sat a safe distance away on the back patio.

I got myself arranged – this takes some effort. You see to really enjoy a hot coffee on a hot humid day while reading the last copy of “The Metro”; one must get adjusted properly in one’s chair. For me this means cross-legged and it is a trick on a metal chair, but does work.

Minding my own business reading about leaks in the PM’s security detail I couldn’t help myself; one of the men was out of his chair demonstrating his theory to his hunched over young companion.

“More confidence, you’ll attract more if you have more confidence. Look at me. See I take a step backward out of who I am. See,” and the older gentleman demonstrates by taking a step backward leaving behind his invisible self.

“Now I can look at myself,” pointing to the place on the patio where he was standing a second ago.

“And I look and I ask why can’t I be confident? I am confident. I do not have experience but I can still be confident in ME.”

He wants to stress this point of inexperience, drive the message home and continues mockingly, in first person self-doubt, “But I don’t have anything, I don’t know anything. That’s ok, there is nothing wrong with not knowing and there is NOTHING wrong with feeling confident even if you don’t know everything. Why is there a reason for shame?”

Shame. I can’t decide if it’s the enunciation of the word, or the hunched over shamed posture of his attentive student, but this is an equally important emotion in the discussion.

“Just step out of the moment. Look at yourself and be confident.”

The young gentleman shrugs and grunts.

I am doing my hardest not to be that creep eavesdropping but I can’t help myself. I want to go and sit in the lounge chair beside them so I can see the young apprentices face. I can’t tell if he is enjoying the animated conversation or bored and wanting to escape. I am intrigued, I want to know who this young fellow is, I want to know what the older gentleman has emphatically experienced.

“Great actors are confident. Why are you embarrassed? There is no reason to be embarrassed. Experience is part of who you will be in the future, the experience, the greatness. For now experiment, be confident, be in the now.

There is so much emotion there is this illusion the older gentleman is shouting but there is no shouting.

Forceful? Perhaps. Convincing? Absolutely.

I am desperate to know if the young man is listening or simply grunting at the animation, passion and truth. Is he ignoring what is being given to him by a man who evidently experienced something. I doubt you can talk this way unless you really believe, have walked the path and have seen the creatures in the forest.

I try not to stare over at the two of them, the older gentleman has sat down. The young man notices me. I wonder if he saw my mouth wide open, jaw dropped and a look of wonderment on my face? He checks his phone and I look away. The street car passed on the other side of the building and I lose part of the one-sided conversation.

“Focus the energy on what you want and slowly you’ll move towards what you want depending how much you want it. Everybody does it; they all put their energy out there for what they want. When they get it they ask for more. Don’t shy away from the experience saying I don’t know this and I don’t know that.”

“Sacrifice, find your inner-sense. We think we are crazy. Why don’t we want to go there, go for the experience? We are afraid. What are we afraid of?”

I am cursing the TTC. Why do street cars travel in packs? Can’t they travel in intervals? They are disrupting my concentration.

“We are afraid of contradicting ourselves. That is what we are afraid of, afraid of proving ourselves, our beliefs wrong. We ask ourselves, am I going crazy? I say it’s just change. It is change. We are told that everything must stay the same that nothing changes. But it does change and we are afraid if we feel or say one thing, once we have an experience what we originally felt or said is now contradicted. We’ve proved something for ourselves and now our beliefs have been challenged. That’s just the way of the world.”

The young man softly says a few words that I can’t make out. He has an accent and I wish so much that I could hear what he said. I am not sure at this point if I want to hear the meaning of his words or just try to figure out where he’s from. It’s a British English accent but it’s not from Britain.

“No, no, you don’t understand. We justify our beliefs and that’s not right or wrong. We just need to be willing to experience life and let it contradict us if that’s what it does – so be it. If we don’t then we live in fear and we do not grow, we do not learn or experience.”

“Just like we are taught to behave like a man. You know like a man who wants a woman.”

Ok, now I desperately want to be sitting in that lounge chair beside them! And why wont the street car parade move along?!

“Like in a relationship, she has to look like a woman, act like a woman in order to attract a man. But why can’t she to be an individual. She should be able to be whoever it is she wants to be. She should be able to be calm about her individuality. But we set rules on what she should be like, who she should be and how she should act.”

I so want to go give this man a hug and ask him to marry me! Imagine! Me MARRIED! I know, I am still laughing too! But seriously, if this short older gentleman with a balding head and a passion for experience and a willingness to allow people to be who they are, I may be converted! Hey, the man did say that experience will sometimes make us contradict ourselves.

“Try to find yourself. Heal. It is important to heal and to heal we need to touch. Our body gets these tingly sensations when we do sports, wrestling, walking, swimming; any type of physical activity. We can touch with these sensations, with our body and that helps us heal.”

Another parade of streetcars passes on the road. I lose more of the conversation.

“If you don’t like something, focus on what you like. It’s the law of attraction. I hate it, I hate it. I want to feel good. That’s what we say. Well then start feeling good. Start feeling this. Start doing activities that allows your body to touch and feel. You’ll never get there until you start feeling it. You are too busy hating what you don’t like and it is building up. If there is something you don’t like, that you hate, stop thinking about it and start thinking about what you love, what you like”

There was more advice.

“Letting that hatred build up gets us to this state. Unhealthy addiction. As an example, people start drinking it helps them, it relaxes them. It becomes the thing they focus on wanting and when they are going for more than one drink and they can’t handle it, they want more and more. And then they become addicted, they can’t live without it. That drinking becomes a belief system. Drinking becomes something they do that helps them to deal with life.”

Maybe the gentleman is from AA?

“How does drinking help with life? Well the person thinks I don’t care how it’s helping, it’s helping me deal with life. That becomes the sticking point, you eventually don’t know why the drinking is suppose to be helping deal with life and you don’t know what to do about it. It’s not that you don’t know how to move on, you are just no longer in touch with how to deal with it. I lack something else. There is always a lack and drinking is a compensation and you become addicted and you don’t even remember why. Eventually you don’t know how to change and you go to the local bar, I don’t like it because there is nothing here. But this is where everyone is. The space in-between, it is empty, but it is jail.”

“The fears are beating you. Release the barrier. Live the experience. Give up the fear that is handcuffing you and is keeping you down. Put your energy in the good things, in positive things. Concentrate on what you love, what you like and it will come to you and you will not drown in a cursed habit of your choosing.”

I left the patio first. I can’t stop wondering at the older gentleman’s life or what could possibly be going on with our fine young man with the distinguished accent. I will likely never know. I never did see their faces and will forget what their voices sounded like. I might be able to spot the passion again, but who is to say for certain.

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