The Blank Stare

A number of years ago I was attending a professional conference with people that I had grown to know, online, pretty well. When we met, we were already really comfortable with each other and had great conversations.

At one point (not during the conference itself) the topic shifted to dreams and how weird they were, etc. I really started to get interested now – my metaphysical ears had perked up. Although these people knew me well from our professional “day job” association, the topic of dreams or any kind of metaphysics had never really come up before.  Feeling very comfortable with this group, I jumped into the dream conversation with something like, “It’s like when you have an OBE or a lucid dream and…..” I can’t even remember what point I was making at the time, all I remember is the blank stares and the sudden silence. There might even have been sideways glances to see if anyone else knew what I was talking about.  “OBE’s – you know, out of body experiences?” More silence – apparently my assessment that they just didn’t know what OBE stood for was incorrect, as explaining the acronym did nothing to break the silence. In that moment I did some really fancy footwork and managed to make my point, if watered down, at the same time bringing the conversation right back to the “dreams are weird” level, and discussion once again continued. I breathed an internal sigh of relief, and hoped my transgression into lands unknown would be forgotten as I tried to act like nothing had happened.

This is not purely an issue for metaphysical geek types, as this sort of thing happens, to some extent, in any conversations which are out of someone’s comfort zone or area of awareness. But for metaphysics, it’s not just a lateral difference of topic, you’re talking about an entirely different level of consciousness, awareness, and understanding of ourselves. In one fell swoop, I’d tried to take the conversation from the “dreams are weird” statement (which is basically a dismissal of dreams as just funny and odd, but nothing to waste further time wondering about), to a place which to me was just the next logical topic of conversation, but was to them, as I realized in that very tense moment, was completely outside their framework of who they were, what they assumed about “life”, and what was, at most, just imagination – something kids grew out of.

During this long moment of my life, I felt scared that I would be laughed at, fearful of being, thereafter, shunned from a group that I had considered good friends, worried that I was “outed” and they’d always looks at me as “weird” from now on, etc. Luckily, none of those things seemed to happen, as the dynamics quickly returned to what they were before. I don’t know if my comments were just dismissed by them, not really “heard” to begin with, or if they had heard, but hadn’t known how to respond, and perhaps, just maybe, had taken in a few of the words I’d blurted out.

I’m still friends with these terrific people, but stick to more conventional topics in any discussion we have. But the metaphysical geek in me learned a number of things:

– Even if you’re really comfortable with people, don’t assume that everyone is then ‘just like you’. People are multifaceted, and you may only match up on a few of those facets. You don’t have to avoid alternative topics, but go in with your eyes open and feel your way through the conversation consciously.

– I’d felt this way for most of my life – that a part of me just wasn’t reflected in the people and attitudes of those around me – which made me do my best to fit in, or at the very least, to not let my differences come out or be noticed at all. Often the hoped-for, best case scenario was to be ignored. This non-reflection also led to constant feelings of self-doubt about the things I ‘knew’ in my gut were true about the world, and thus, a continued lack of expression of these inclinations, and fear to do so.

– The early training to ‘fit in’ and learning that my weird ideas didn’t really have a place in the framework in which I grew up, (which, at the time, I assumed to be “physical reality” instead of just “my parents beliefs about physical reality”) most likely led me to recreating this scenario and these uncomfortable feelings until I learned to accept those parts of myself. It doesn’t mean making, for instance, my professional group of friends accept and understand that part of me they weren’t aligned with themselves, but it does mean accepting that there’s nothing wrong with me just because the ‘mass reality’ doesn’t seem to ‘get it’.  To be comfortable with who I am, proud even, without a need to seek approval and acceptance outside myself. When I accept myself and even feel proud of who I am, that acceptance will then be reflected in my physical experience.

It also occurred to me that there really is no straight-line linear boundary between what is weird and what is not. There’s isn’t only one version of mass reality – there’s one for each of use that radiates out from us in concentric circles – us, immediate family beliefs, how mass reality is portrayed in the media, world politics, etc. (I don’t think I’m describing that well, but I’ll let it be for now.) For instance, if talking about lucid dreams and OBE’s is weird to what I’d call a more mundane mass reality sort of situation, then people who are into “all of that new age stuff” would certainly be open to all of these types of concepts, right? Nope – same rules apply – don’t assume.  For instance, what about talking about how we create our own reality to people who’s “first awakening to there being more to the world than physical reality” is realizing they’ve experienced a terrifying alien abduction scenario? Hell, even chatting on a forum about reality creation doesn’t have the ‘everyone agrees and is here for the same reasons’ kind of cohesion that might be expected.

I’ve learned that I have to come to terms with who *I* am, in any situation. If I feel like I need to hold back a part of who I am, then essentially I need to accept that part of who I am. If I find I’m more focused on fearing what other people will think of me ‘if’…. then I’m obviously focusing too much on what I think THEY would think (which is still only what I think – it may have nothing to do with what they are ACTUALLY thinking – it’s my own projection), and not on what *I* truly think about myself, etc.  I don’t have to make my professionally-inclined friends accept my interest in OBEs or non-physical awareness. And, just because I know something doesn’t mean I’m required to always share it – each moment/conversation has a life and focus of its own.

On the flip-side of this was my own sort of ‘blank stare’ moment – sort of. We were having dinner with some friends, a lively conversation that naturally flowed from topic to topic, and one of them, in a only-somewhat-related tangent, shared with us his general belief in UFOs/Aliens.  Our friends are very open-minded and accepting, but have never indicated any interest in anything metaphysical, anything beyond the usual physical reality topics. Now, my S.O. and I have had our own experiences and opinions about this topic, so much so that our own “blank stares” had more to do with “how do we respond to this without overwhelming them because we’re bursting to share all we know, while at the same time encouraging him to feel we are accepting of his ideas and would love to hear more” etc. I quickly decided to reply with a general affirmation that there’s definitely more to the world than we think, and a little bit about infrared cameras being able to see some intriguing activity in the night sky. As before, the conversation just flowed onward, smoothly (no actual blank stares or tense silences, I hope – all of this happened in my head in a split second), and although I would have loved to have drilled him with questions, and gotten really deep, it just wasn’t to be for this moment in time. Maybe next time. 😉

Now, this experience gives me yet another way of explaining a suddenly tense ‘blank stare’ sort of moment – not just having no idea of what someone is talking about, or having too MUCH of an idea of what someone is talking about. The first kind I felt as a disconnect, the second I felt as a connection. But each could have been due to my own expectations, and a reflection of my own expectations based on my level of self-acceptance in that moment. Maybe my professional friends felt even more uncomfortable than I did because they DID have their own experiences with OBEs that they hadn’t really accepted yet. Again, though, I can’t assume what’s going on with them – I can only deal with what energy I am bringing to the conversation. (What you can see going on in physical reality can look the same on the outside, but have wildly divergent causes underneath.)

I think the more we accept who we truly are, the more fluid we get with this whole type of experience. Having learned the lesson of the ‘blank stare’ from two different perspectives, I’m paying more attention and making fewer assumptions, at the same time learning to be at ease with however I feel like expressing myself in the moment.

I’m also experiencing a wonderful feeling of relief at having finally embraced a part of myself that I hadn’t realized I’d still been holding away at arm’s length. I wonder where I can apply this next…