For whatever reason, I couldn’t find the nail polish remover. I’d been at the grocery store for an hour, and knew it was time for me to move my energy elsewhere. I mean, is it really necessary to internally call the bagger man a grumpy old fuck just because he rolls his eyes when I ask for paper instead of plastic? Prob’ly not.
I hopped over to Walgreens with a mini list, but became sidetracked by the cosmetics consultant who wouldn’t stop talking to me and the fact that, suddenly, a question about which shade of nail polish to buy became the absolute most important question of life.
I just needed this — a new nail polish. A mini-injection of color and joy and self-care. I’d decided that I would get something that made me happy, knowing myself as I do, and the way I sometimes sweep joy under the carpet in exchange for what’s safe.
I dabbed my fingernails with varying shades, drawn to one and then another, until I grabbed an unlikely-for-me shade of deep, bright pink. It was like I was moved by a force outside of myself, and I squirmed uncomfortably as I brushed it onto my fingernail, and gasped, feeling whimsy flush my cheeks, whispering to myself, This makes me so happy.
Did I buy it right then and there, because: obviously? No. Instead, I mind-fucked it for twenty minutes and chewed at the inside of my cheeks while I did the rest of my shopping, and felt absolutely crazy inside my body the whole time.
This is a familiar phenomenon for me when shopping. I don’t freak out over which rice crackers to buy; this only happens when I want to buy something for myself that I wouldn’t normally buy which is of the more bold and spunky variety — a storm brews inside of me, I twist myself into a pretzel, and I usually leave completely empty-handed, because I find it difficult enough to be in the weird wasteland of neon lighting and over-packaged products without the added static of buying something that feels somehow emotionally risky.
I mean, I’m not talking about a Maserati. I’m talking about nail polish.
I’ll spare you the melodrama and tell you that I eventually just grabbed the damn happy-colored nail polish — actually saying, “Fuck it” out loud to myself, almost defiantly, as I marched to the cashier to endure three and a half minute orative about hair moisturizer from my friend Talkative Tammy.
Back in my car, virtually out of breath and utterly confused about what I’d just put myself through, I looked down at my hand….
What I recognized seeing my fingernails painted with varying shades of flower-power, was that I was looking at shades of my Self — as well as how I related to those shades of Self, and the way I (gulp) thought I might be perceived by the world at large based on the color of my fucking nail polish.
I realized my crisis wasn’t over which damn shade to pick (or a question involving whether or not to walk away from the circus in my mind entirely), it was that I knew what I wanted — the bright bougainvillea color that practically made me squeal when I painted it on my middle fingernail — and I was projecting a judgement about what kind of woman this made me out onto the world.
Because I make those same judgements about other people.
Once I’d identified the source of my misery, I felt a huge weight leave my body. I put my hands over my heart and realized that it wasn’t that a certain shade of nail polish made me a certain kind of woman (obviously), it was that I was all of these shades, and my calling there in the aisle with the nail polish was to accept and integrate all parts of myself into this one perfect vessel.
It just so happened that the shade of me wanting to be integrated in that moment was called Folly.
The problem isn’t that we don’t know what we want — we do. We just don’t want to know that we know, because almost always, this involves meeting a part of ourselves that is trying to come into greater integrity. Which means having to make a choice that will always, no matter what, have consequences. The torment we feel in the myth of “I don’t know” is attached to the meaning we assign to what we want — judgements we make, stories we craft, and the permissions we don’t give ourselves to just want what we want.
Do we even realize how often we do this to ourselves (and to one another), without recognizing the dangerous, rip-tide-like effect this has on our whole lives…? This time, for me, it was nail polish. But what if it’s choosing the next place to live/project to take/person to love?
When we undermine our desires in order to perpetuate a story or a judgement, there is always a cost — and you can guarantee that it is most often some part of us that needs, so sweetly, to be brought into the Light.
We only ignore the parts of ourselves that, when brought into full integration with the rest of us, will mean making changes. And change is hard, and uncomfortable, not just for ourselves, but for the people around us.
Standing in her kitchen recently, my brilliant friend, Christine, said to me, “If you aren’t ruffling some feathers, you aren’t doing it right.” She was talking about writing a book, but we both knew this is how it is in Life. Stepping into a life of deeper Truth will always remind some of the people around us that they aren’t stepping into theirs, which pisses off the Spirit, who tries to nudge said person in the direction of their Truth by crafting something uncomfortable — and worth confronting — in the ego.
There. See? Other people’s shit is not your shit. Nail Polish Wisdom, Lesson #758.
It’s clear to me now that the nail polish was never about the nail polish; it was about the stories that keep me/all of us from stepping into the flow of our lives, courageous and open to a little, well, folly.