This post was originally written for subscribers of the daily taryn, a writing project started in Dec 2017. Now's the perfect time to join, so I'll hold while you do so. Love u.
I’m excited for tonight. Let’s get started.
I’ll be honest with you — I haven’t opened a bible or referenced a bible verse in… years. Years. My 14-year-old self has her jaw dropped to the floor right now, but it’s true.
And even after all these years, I sat down to write tonight’s piece and wanted to preface it with some verses I used to cling to a while back. Reading them now still packs the same punch, maybe even more so now.
A TIME TO LOOK OUT, NOT UP OR IN.
I believe there are times to look up, times to look in, and times to look out. Let me explain.
When the world around you (and the foundation within you) is trying, tough, and unstable, you have an opportunity to look up. Maybe you’re looking up to God, loved ones who have passed, or the big warm sun. Whatever you’re seeing, it’s important that it gets your eyes away from yourself and the people around you, and reminds you that you’re part of something bigger.
When the things that normally ground you don’t feel like a solid foundation, you have an opportunity to look in. Maybe your beliefs are in question, your job is changing, or your friends aren’t being friends. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find a comfy, cozy home within yourself.
When you want to gain empathy, perspective, and a healthy dose of awe.
Tonight, I want to share an exercise in looking out. I’ve never named this “exercise” because, why would I name a thing that I do by myself, alone in my car?
My favorite atmosphere for this is on any commute — trains, planes, and automobiles will all do just fine. For the sake of this explanation, let’s imagine I’m stuck in traffic. I’ll look around at other cars, then choose a stranger to, here’s the weird part, fixate on how incredibly unfamiliar they are.
WELCOME TO THE BRAIN OF TARYN
Here are the things I think to myself:
I wonder what her name is. Probably something with a B? I don’t know. How would I know that? Oh, maybe she has a personalized plate. Hmm, no. I wonder why she doesn’t have a personalized plate.
I wonder where she’s going. I hope it’s a good destination, like a date or an interview. Gosh, what if it’s a bad destination, like she’s on her way to get broken up with and she doesn’t even know it?
So does she have a boyfriend? A girlfriend? A spouse, or ex-spouse? I wonder how many times she’s fought with an ex in that car, or made up with an ex in that car. Or made OUT with an ex in that car. I wonder if she likes her car, and why she picked that one. Maybe she didn’t pick that one — maybe it was a hand-me-down from an older sibling or deceased parent. Maybe she won it on one of those game shows. I always thought it would be weird to win a car on a game show. Like, what if I didn’t need it then.. I’d just have a new car? I wonder how she won it…
Anyway. I wonder why she cut her hair like that. It looks good, it’s just weird that I’ll never know if it was down to her butt a few hours ago and she’s on her way home from the biggest haircut of her life. I wonder if we have mutual friends. I bet we don’t, which is crazy. She has had a whole life of classmates and friends and crushes and bullies and cousins that I might not know at all, ever. We may be on this planet together and not know any of the same 2 people. Or, maybe her least favorite person of all time is my favorite person of all time.
I wonder if we’ve crossed paths before today. Have we been in the same movie theater, grocery store, or school? Have we laughed together at a standup show? I wonder if this is the first time we’ve ever been in talking-distance from each other, or maybe we have driven past each other every single day for 4893 days in a row.
Is she happy? I hope she’s happy, but it blows my mind that I can’t possibly know what’s making her happy, or why she’s more depressed now than she’s ever been in her life. I can smile at her, and I should, because who knows? Literally, I have absolutely zero idea if this is the best day of her life, the worst day of her life, or a completely uneventful blip in between.
I am sitting in my car, looking at her in her car. Even though we’re 10 feet apart, we couldn’t be farther apart. Our cars are separate universes and we’re dancing right on the edge, nearly colliding.
We’re orbiting together, for a few minutes of our lives, before the traffic clears up and we drive away and maybe never see each other again. Ever.
And the craziest part? She didn’t look over the entire time. I’ve been sitting here trying to understand the depths of her relationships or reasons for her depression, and she has no idea I exist. Even then, I am now rooting for her. I hope she gets the job and marries the guy and grows out her hair and never crashes that shiny car.
I HOPE YOU TRY THIS.
If you like it, I hope you try it regularly. Thinking about the strangers around me has made the world feel both bigger and smaller. Bigger, because some of the things that stress you out on a daily basis may be literally non-existent to the people around you. Smaller, because that guy in the next lane might change your life someday.
Hi. I can't believe you read this — it actually means the world to me. Now that you're on a roll of making me happy, I'd like to give you 2 options to keep the fun going. 1) If you'd share this with someone or a feed of someones, or 2) you joined my newsletter. If that's not your thing, I'll love you regardless, but I'll do some middle school love letter journaling about you if you do either. Head here to join my list of gorgeous subscribers.