A few weeks ago, my house and car keys, cell phone, and favorite down vest were stolen. From a yoga studio. From my favorite yoga studio. Somewhere between 630 and 930 that night, someone decided he or she needed those things more than I did, and scooped my vest, with what felt like my whole life in the pockets, and walked out the door.
While I will spare you the details of my meltdown, frantic calls to my sister, terrible night of sleep on her couch, and exhaustive chaos that ensued the next day as we pieced everything back together (well, as she pieced everything back together is more like it…I stared out the car window trying not to barf for most of the day), I can tell you I came out the other side wounded, violated, shaken up…and a little bit wiser and braver.
Later that week, standing in a cooking class with the other people in the program I was at when my things were stolen, listening to someone ask if we knew anyone who could work as a nanny and private vegan chef for her in nine months because, ‘I neeeeeed someone to do this for me. And I’m a planner. So I need them in nine months,’ I realized these did not have to be my people.
My people don’t have to be the pretentious women in cooking class who can’t see past the end of their micro-nutrient obsessed noses while millions of people around the world go to bed hungry. I can choose to align with the grandmother in Tanzania who practically crawled into her cabinet to fetch me the last pastry she had as a thank you for helping her carry a box of medicine.
My people don’t have to be the yoga teacher who would not even look up to greet me the next morning when I walked in to see if anyone had returned my things and merely told me, ‘better use a lock next time.’ I can gravitate toward Jeremy, the guy at the Chevy dealership, who cut new keys for me for half price just because Sarah and I were nice to him and most people aren’t.
My people don’t have to be the boy who’s made me cry myself to sleep more times than I can count, and months later still takes up more brain space than I’d like to admit. I can focus my energy on going to dinner with my friend Blake on a super snowy Denver night, on the boys in Texas who show me what it means to be a gentleman, on the men I know around the world who are phenomenal boyfriends, husbands, fathers and humans and remind me I am worth working hard for.
My people don’t have to be in my vicinity. I can give time to maintaining the incredible friendships I’ve made in the past decade, though we’ve been flung further apart than we ever imagined. I can work hard to make sure those human gifts from the universe do not go uncherished.
We do not get to choose who and what is flung our way, good or bad, temporarily or for a long, long time. But we do get to choose how we respond. What we do with it. Where we focus. And who we become.