Greetings and welcome to blog #87. Los Angeles is a fascinating place. It has great weather, industrial strength fog and more freeways than you can poke a stick at. I fear I may not have seen the best that LA has to offer – freeways not tending to grace the pages of too many tourist websites or brochures.
My husband imports classic cars, mainly Mustangs from 1965 – 1967, since you asked. So we have spent a reasonable amount of time whilst here in La La Land travelling hither and yon, looking at them, inspecting them, having them fixed in some way, and getting them to the shippers who are transporting them to Australia.
My view of LA has therefore been a lot of this to the left. I took that photo on Sunday, on the way to (or from, can’t remember now) the Long Beach car swap.
Gripping view, isn’t it? I have seen so many LA freeways I could write a book on them. I have rumbled over them in what seemed like square wheels (ka-thum, ka-thum, ka-thum). And I have come to loathe the sound of Tom-Tom (electronic female) intoning: “bear right then stay in the left lane”. Or anything, really.
Anyway, guess what I did just yesterday? I went into an LA consignment store. Yes I did! We were on Santa Monica (the “t” in ‘Santa’ is silent, I’ve discovered) Boulevard, West Hollywood, eating at Hugo’s restaurant. I had the New American Veggie Burger, Dan had the Roasted Pineapple-Coconut Pancakes – they were so heavy they could’ve sunk a ship. After all that food, we needed a brisk walk to burn some of the calories off.
Well, here’s something else I’ve noticed in LA. Nobody walks. Well, not a lot of people walk. Compared to the volume of people in cars, there’s not a lot of walkers. Unlike, say, New York City where the streets are brimming, overflowing even, with people. So not only did we have the streets to ourselves, almost, but we didn’t have a lot of places to look into.
As far as I can tell, when people go shopping in LA, they GO shopping. They don’t just stumble into a retail experience as they go about their daily business. No. They point themselves (well, their cars) in a particular direction and they go specifically to that place. The shopping centres we walked by seemed to feature dry cleaners, nail and tanning salons and tattoo parlours. Not a lot of walk-ins to those stores.
So, lo and behold when we came across this consignment store, it felt like an oasis of interesting in a desert of blah. It was a large consignment store, not particularly high quality or attractively laid out. It resembled a charity store more than a consignment store. Although clearly I liked the shoe displays:
I almost didn’t go in. Earlier in the challenge, around month 5 in, I realised that I had some misplaced fear around clothing stores – they were in some way the e.n.e.m.y. I felt that if I went into a store and saw something I liked, then it would be hellish for me to leave it there on the rack. Better to stay out. Avoid. Resist. Harden up.
I slapped myself around a bit after realising that was what I was thinking and feeling – could I really be fearful of what would happen to me inside LL Bean? Bird-eating spiders are worth being fearful of. Carnivorous reptiles, yes a worthy object of fear. Crashing to earth from 30, 000 feet – again, reasonable. But fear of a shopping experience? C’mon!
Of course, fears aren’t rational. Feelings in general are not logical. In Jungian terms, feelings represent the balance point to logic and analysis.
And that’s the beauty of feelings; that’s the contribution they make to our lives. They are the weft thread that makes the tapestry so interesting, so compelling, so rich. Not to mention annoying, disruptive and inconvenient at times.
So, realising that my feelings were not to be beaten up and mocked (at least by me – there are always others who seem willing to play that role, like Morticia says to Gomez “don’t torture yourself, darling – that’s my job”), I tried another tack. I went deeper into them.
I started to experiment with going into stores and opening myself up to the experience that I was going to have. My version of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It was an important tipping point for me in my 12 month journey – if I was ever going to understand this fear, I had to experience it. Right? I mean, you can’t slay a dragon from your armchair.
What I noticed was… you guessed it… there’s nothing to fear. Not really. That even if I find something that I quite like, that I ordinarily would have purchased, it doesn’t hurt to not buy it.
In fact, the experience of being on this challenge has freed me in some way (I talked about the relief I felt when I first experienced this, a few months ago, in a pyjama store). It lets me off the hook.
So, going into this consignment store yesterday, which may have held some treasure that only I could unearth and see the beauty and magic in, was part of my experience of facing the thing I had feared the most.
It’s a less intense experience now, of course, as I’ve been lowering my resistance to it by repeated application of this approach over the last 6 months. And every time, it gets easier. Hooray! My medication must be working.
Another fear that I share with much of the world’s developed-economy population is a fear of ridicule. Acknowledging my fear and sharing my feelings about it is one outstandingly effective way to trigger other people’s feelings of judgement. Have you noticed? I guess that’s just the risk I take when I put this out there. One worth taking. I hope. I mean – Right?