Ever feel like you’re on display for the general public?
I went out to dinner recently with someone I’ll call Mr. August. Over drinks, we spoke about the upcoming Christmas holiday and, since he’s a relatively good listener, he asked me if I celebrated Yule. I have to admit that I was slightly impressed – he’s a lapsed Catholic and I happened to mention during our last dinner that I followed a pagan path, so he obviously remembered something about that first dinner beyond the blue dress I was wearing. Anyway, I told him that Yule was not a holiday I celebrate, and went on to mention that the time from Thanksgiving to the end of the year was (mainly) filled with secular celebrations. Mr. August asked when my religious holidays fall during the year and as I started to explain…I noticed the pricking up of ears at the surrounding tables. Now, I don’t mind speaking about my religion with people who are genuinely interested but the middle of a restaurant is hardly the place for a public lecture. I smiled, and gently changed the subject. Mr. August didn’t pursue it further, and all listening ears went back to their normal, non-eavesdropping, positions.
They can’t help it, you know. When people get a whiff of something “other”, something out-of-the-ordinary, they’re off like a prom dress. They want details, the inside scoop. They want to know who we are, what it involves, where we practice, when our celebrations falls and, above all, WHY ON EARTH we do what we do. If we don’t rebuff them, well, then the how questions come out. How did we figure things out? How did we learn about it? How are we not afraid of going to hell?
(The last one is mostly rhetorical and unasked. Mostly.)
It’s human nature. We can’t help it…and I’m not sure we should, to be honest. As someone once said, “The one who asks the most questions learns the most.” I’m pro-learning, so therefore I have to accept the questions…when they come from people who are honestly curious or honestly want to learn.
I’m using the word “honest” on purpose here. I don’t think I should be put on exhibit for people who ask questions in order to tell me I’m doing things incorrectly, or tempting fate, or a sinner. I am, however, happy to sit on my tire swing behind glass, eat mango, and display for those who really want to learn the ins-and-outs.
So, back to my original question: ever feel like you’re on display for the general public? How do you handle it?