In the old days, meat came from a butcher. Bread came from a bakery.
Vegetables? They came from the green grocer.
When you went in, they didn’t have plastic wrapped food. You had to pick out and weigh your veggies yourself.
On one side of the scale I would place simple, one pound weight.
On the other, went the carrots.
The first carrot? Nothing typically would happen.
The second? Still nothing.
What to do?
Keep stacking carrots.
9, 10, 11, 12 carrots.
Finally, I put the thirteenth carrot on the scale and everything would start moving.
With the thirteenth carrot, everything stated to change.
Did that final carrot weigh a pound?
What changes are you making?
How many carrots in are you so far?
How are things moving?
Or are you still stacking carrots?
Remarkable Fools Journal
Here’s another embarrassing reader story. This one comes from Anna Purcell.
She had a few doozies. This captured their essence:
Most of my embarrassing stories are fleeting moments, they don’t have a more grand or far reaching plot. This summer I leaped out of my front door shouting, “you can’t pee here anymore” at the cat that was invisible to the couple walking past.
First of all? I want to find a way to work ‘you can’t pee here anymore’ into One Derful thing - but not today.
Second? I’d like to just touch on embarrassment, shame and foolishness. Embarrassment and shame are related sensations both is how they show up in our bodies and how they function. They act as a break to the process of ‘what do I do next’.
In some cases shame becomes a brick wall. It can feel like a prison. And the prison of shame frequently feels much better than trying to break out. Surrounded by four walls of ‘I can’t because I might suffer the horrific fate of embarrassment we trap ourselves. We made the prison.
Playing with that feeling of embarrassment is a way out of this trap. When I studied with Philippe, and a student was struggling, as a class we learned to see their pain, their fear, their will and their resistance. Philippe also taught us to see true pleasure and know what that’s like in ourselves.
Typically, he’d ask a group on stage to perform some impossible task for the audience watching. The pleasure came from having a great time, playing with the others while attempting the impossible. To me this sounds like building a start up, running a non profit or any other ‘changing the world’ type task. Changing the world is always impossible until you do it.
Facing such tasks we regularly get stuck in our embarrassment and shame. With Philippe when a student was struggling, he would tell the student to pick two people that the student found attractive. This created a beautiful tension immediately. The tension within the embarrassment and excitement of telling the class that you found someone attractive. Once picked, the two would either caress the inside of the struggling students’ arm or gently kiss their neck while the student attempted to complete the exercise.
Whether imitating a coffee grinder, performing the mating call of an elephant or singing opera, the results were stunning. Pleasure and embarrassment together as embodied experiences created a space with each performer such that they were super present, open and ready to engage with the audience.
With that in mind, one of the central questions here is this: How can we find delight and pleasure to play with our embarrassment?
As a fool, I’m continuing to do research into embarrassment.
So, if you have any embarrassing stories, I’d love to hear them. I want to share them here weekly. In sharing them with me a couple things might happen:
They loose some of their power over you
Others will have moments like yours as well. You’ll be able to relate to each other
I can continue my research into embarrassment.
Your stories can be as elaborate as Michael’s or as short as Anna’s. Both are helpful.
If you want to send me an embarrassing story, you simply need to reply to this email. If you’re reading this on the website, leave a comment telling me to get in touch with you and we can find the best way to connect there.
One Derful Thing
Getting the words wrong.
Time to practice getting things wrong.
Find a piece of music that is in a language that you don’t speak.
Sing along with it as joyously as you can. Make sounds with your mouth that sound like the words to the song. Have fun making beautiful sounds of gibberish.
Then? Put the song on for a friend, your partner or the people at work.
Part way through, turn off the music and sing solo.
Notice the feeling in your body?
Can you find any joy in the embarrassment?
If you’re struggling to find a song, here’s a favourite of mine to do this exercise with:
I try to sing both parts.
For bonus points, send me a link to a video of you doing this.
I’ll share it and we can all laugh at how stupid we are.
Do you know any Remarkably Foolish People?
We need them here.