The Dating Game

When we alter our perspective, we change our experience.

*Rebecca was a knockout: green eyes, strawberry blond hair and a smile that lit up a room. It’s no wonder *Jon swiped left on her profile. After several texts on the dating app, they made plans to meet for coffee.

A few hours later, the two hugged and Jon said he would be in touch. 

“You better,” she said, her voice a flirtatious wink.

True to his word, Jon reached out after a couple of days, wanting to “play it cool.” However, his mind was already seeing them go on camping trips with his dog and sitting beside her at an Astros game.

                        After what Jon considered enough “polite texting banter,” he asked Rebecca out for dinner that upcoming weekend.

                        With bated breath, he watched the 3 dots surface on his phone…then stop…then start up again. In what felt like an eternity, he received the following text:

                        I can’t this weekend. I’m heading to a family reunion upstate. But let’s definitely get together the following weekend!!!

Crushed, Jon was grateful the text didn’t allow for her to see the disappointment on his face. Instead, he texted back a no-big-deal thumbs up emoji. 

Jon spent the next week researching restaurants and cool things to do in the area. On Wednesday of the following week, Jon texted Rebecca again:

Hey! Hope you had a great reunion with your family. Does this weekend still work for you?

The beautiful strawberry blond texted back within the hour:

I just found out that I need to fly to LA for a work event. I’m sorry for the confusion. But let’s definitely meet up the following weekend.

Jon felt like his heart strings were being pulled against his will. For the past two weeks since meeting Rebecca, Jon had replayed their long coffee date in his mind like a record stuck on the same groove: the angle of her face as she laughed when he told her a joke about getting older, the excitement she expressed when talking about her love of contemporary art. The way it only felt like the two of them at the coffee bar.

The following week, Jon began looking on the dating app again. A few girls “liked” him, and he started to engage in texts with two of them.

The excitement of meeting Rebecca and their potential was fading.

And of course, that’s when Rebecca reached out to him:

Hey! How’s your Thursday going? I’m back in town. Did you have a fun weekend?

Jon’s veins flooded with a dopamine high. 

Good! I’d love to take you for dinner this weekend🙂

Aw. Thank you. I’m just so exhausted. Let’s shoot for next week.

Online dating makes me think of the Hindu parable of the snake and the rope. A man is walking alone in the desert when he sees a rattlesnake. His heart races and his adrenaline is at an all-time high. But before he runs away, he takes one final glance at that snake, only to discover it’s a rope. Suddenly, all the adrenaline and fear left his body.

Our perception creates our reality. When it comes to dating, the myriad of emotions we can experience can feel so personal, so real. But like the weather in the sky, our emotions are temporary. When it’s rainy outside, we don’t take it personally. Likewise, when we experience a negative emotion, we are not the emotion itself. We can observe it and know that like weather, it will change. We have the power to alter our perception, to see the dating world as a rope, not a snake. 

Jon will never know why Rebecca keeps putting off meeting him again. He will never know “the truth” about why she reached out to him if she’s not interested in dating. But he CAN experience a more enjoyable dating life if he’s not weighing everything like that man walking in the desert: fearful, anxious, considering every interaction with a stranger a matter of life and death.

When we consider dating a game, we don’t take the experience as seriously. We can enjoy the moments themselves. We can change our goal from something less lofty (meeting “the” one) to meeting new people (making new potential friends while learning more about what we like and don’t like).  A game is about having fun, not torturing oneself with what ifs and failed attempts at mind reading.

*Names have been altered to protect the individuals.

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What’s Your Story?

          There’s a major player in our lives that is unseen but real: our inner dialogue. The way we perceive a situation creates our experience to that situation. The way we speak to ourselves affects the world around us.

The other day, my friends drove about twenty miles for us to meet for lunch. When I asked them how the drive was both simultaneously responded:

            “The traffic was horrible.”  

              “It was good.”

            One car, one trip, and two completely different experiences.

            We can see these alternate reactions from a young age. A mother tells her children they can’t have a cookie now. One child howls, like something heavy landed on her foot, the other shrugs her shoulders and continues playing in the figurative (or literal) sandbox.

            Then there’s the difficult, harrowing experiences, like those who lived through and experienced life in a concentration camp during World War II. The inhumane conditions of life at Auschwitz; the incomprehensible cruelty, abuse, violence, and firsthand witnessing of genocide caused many to lose the will to live. Then there were those survivors like Elie Wiesel who wrote:

            “We are all brothers, and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats [gas chambers] over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive.” -NIGHT

            Wiesel was only fifteen when the Nazi’s deported him and his family to Auschwitz-Birkenau—only fifteen when, on their first night in the camp, his mother and younger sister were killed in the gas chambers. And yet, his spirit spoke of helping others, of survival, of help as the oxygen for their survival.

            Many Holocaust victims did not find helping others as a means to survival. Many victims were lost in incomprehensible fear and depression. Same situation but a very different experience again. 

            What causes us to react so differently to similar situations? What causes one person alone on a Saturday night to feel sorry for himself and another to relish his own company?

            A major player is unseen but real: our inner dialogue. The way we perceive a situation creates our experience to that situation. The way we speak to ourselves affects the world around us.

            Take a moment to think about something that happened today. If an unpleasant experience arose for you, consider the following:

  1. What were you thinking about the situation at the time?
  2. Is it possible you could consider perceiving the situation differently?
  3. If you answered yes to #2, how does the alternate perspective(s) make you feel?

   When we grow mindful of our inner dialogue, we are less likely to fall prey to negative thinking and more likely to experience compassion for ourselves and others.

An Alternate Reality

There’s a greater reality that technology will never surpass or achieve...

Our perception is everything. How we interpret the world around us and our engagement with it greatly determines our lives in both quality and creation. Check out an Amazon review for almost any product and you’ll discover five star and one-star reviews—for the very same item! Listen to couples—happily married, on the brink of divorce and every state in between—and you’ll hear two different tales regarding the same relationship.

Technology is in the midst of creating an ever-evolving AR (Augmented Reality), where you can simulate life in an alternate world (i.e., bungee jumping in Costa Rica, skiing in Aspen, playing tennis at Wimbledon).  The pandemic has caused us to gravitate to this screen-laden world where attendance is taken virtually or noted in the clever acronym, IRL (In Real Life). Our life lessons are growing more comprised of chats, texts, emojis and screenshares, where an icon is considered sufficient (albeit online) presence.

I’m not knocking the myriad of gifts that arrive as a by-product of our tech-savvy world. I’ll be the first to admit that I love knowing my lessons can be found easily on a universal learning platform that our school uses, lessons that I create and decide when to share with a convenient click of a button. Children with underlying health issues are no longer prevented from engaging in learning now that we offer a streamlined learning program; students can learn at their own pace, replaying a lesson for greater understanding, translating into their first language where necessary.

But there’s a greater reality that technology will never surpass or achieve: the ability of humans to alter their perceptions and by extension, create their own reality. As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer said (author of The Shift

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

The other day, one of my 6th graders sounded palpably upset when I announced an assignment to read a few chapters independently that week. His icon glowed as he spoke:

“I feel so much pressure. My head hurts. This book is hard for me to enjoy.”

The boy is a voracious reader and extremely bright. His voice was tight with unshed tears. The stress he was feeling was his reality, his perceived reality.

I reminded him of how much he loved to read. I asked him what was different this time.

“I like to read at night, under a blanket with my favorite stuffed animal beside me.”

“Then that’s what you’ll do,” I said.

Oh, how he let out an audible sigh. Gone was the shaky, holding-back-tears in his voice. Gone was his perception that the world was closing in on him.

We are no different from my sweet 6th grader. We all possess the power to perceive the best and worst at every moment. My student had perceived me as “safe” to articulate his anxiety, which in turn, created an alternate reality for him. 

Consider your own life and how you perceive it. If there’s an area you aren’t happy with, how might you alter your understanding of it? Each moment is a gift for you to interpret and manifest a different reality.

The Gift of a Broken Pipe

Happiness can often be found in the least place you’d expect…

Earlier this week, my neighbor called me. 

“Sheri, there’s water coming out from your garage door. Are you home?”

No, I wasn’t home. It was also rush hour, that time of day when you can double the time it takes you to arrive anywhere.

“If you are okay with it, I’d like to call my plumber.”

You know it’s not good when your neighbor is eager to call a plumber on your behalf. 

“The water from your garage is spilling onto my side.

Fortunately, the plumber (Daniel Barrientos—professional and informative) arrived within 30 minutes of receiving my neighbor’s call. 

In order to determine the problem (broken PVC pipes) and implement a solution (new PEX pipes), I would need to go without water for 24 hours.

Going sans water for any amount of time is challenging, but not having water in the midst of a pandemic after working outside both that day and the next, well…let’s just say I wasn’t looking forward to the experience.

Yet losing access to water offered me two unexpected gifts: knowledge and appreciation. Here’s what I learned in those LONG 24 hours:

  1. A toilet requires A LOT of water in order to flush (1.6 gallons per flush—Source: SFGATE). 
  • PVC pipes are inexpensive and easy to work with, but they can only be used for cold water
  • PEX pipes are extremely versatile and temperature tolerant (Source: Olympus Insurance)
  • The PVC pipes on my home were repaired several times before by the previous owner, though never actually replaced

When the water finally, blessedly was turned back on 24 hours later, I started singing, literally singing. There was water to cook with, bathe with, wash my hands with, make coffee with, clean with—it was HEAVEN ON EARTH!

Did I want to experience 24 hours without fresh running water? Absolutely not. But the appreciation I felt after that first shower was a true gift. Washing my hands under running water was a gift. Throwing clothing into my laundry machine to wash felt luxurious. Blow drying my clean, soap-scented hair felt amazing and hearing the steady hum of the dishwasher once again rendered me on top of the world.

Maybe you are reading this considering a metaphorical or literal “broken pipe” in your own life. Sometimes, it’s the broken pipe that helps you feel whole again. Sometimes, we need to lose something in order to recall its invaluableness.

Our perception of life creates our reality. Prior to the broken pipes, I took water for granted, didn’t even notice it. It was only in its absence that I felt parched on every level for it; only with the limited supply in my drawn bathtub that appreciation for it grew.

Losing water, if only for a mere 24 hours, raised my appreciation for it tenfold. When we appreciate something, we are dwelling in a happy space. 

Wishing you a deep and far appreciation of this life and all of its gifts.