This week, Iíve been busy with the California leg of my book tour to promote my new book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. I spoke to a rowdy, vagina-friendly audience of 400 students at Sonoma State University, then 150 hooting, cheering, go-for-it girlfriends at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. So when I showed up Thursday night at the small, private University of Redlands (population 2400), I found myself feeling disappointed that there were only 63 quiet, shy, mostly silent students there.
The bigger, the better?
It turns out that I love a crowd (who knew?) and yeah, the bigger, the better. Their energy feeds mine, and itís so much easier to get juiced up when people are guffawing at my jokes or crying when they are moved. A crowd has a life all its own, and as a public speaker, itís easier to have a conversation with the crowd as its own entity when itís a living, breathing organism of hundreds of individuals.
But Thursday night didnít feel that way. They put me in this great big room, where my audience only filled the first few rows (after I made them all scooch up front). As I started to speak, I felt my energy lag, as if I was back on the coastal hike, talking to myself, the way I practiced my talk for a month before I started my book tour. The people in the audience just werenít reacting much. There were a few scattered laughs, a smattering of cheers, and the occasional nod of someoneís head when I said something resonant. But compared to the bigger crowds, I struggled to stay ďon.Ē
Then I made eye contact with one young woman. She was stunningly beautiful, with these soulful, longing eyes that looked wounded in some way. When our eyes met, our gazes locked and neither one of us looked away. For the rest of my talk, I forgot about pleasing the crowd or being ďonĒ and I just spoke to her, as if we were sitting together over a cup of tea. She nodded, just like a friend would, and except for the fact that I couldnít stop to listen to her stories, it was like we were having a conversation, just the two of us.
When the talk ended, people clapped, but nobody rushed the stage like they did at Cal Poly SLO, where they literally tackled me with a group hug, and the young women lined up one-by-one to get one of the free hugs I was passing out. At University of Redlands, I stepped off the stage and walked back to the book signing table, where one woman was waiting for me to sign her book (instead of the 60 that were already lined up at Sonoma State when I finished my talk).
One by one, the women bought books and trickled over. Some of them asked me questions, and one of them asked if she could give me a hug. It didnít take long to sign the 20 books, and I was just about to get up and leave when the woman with the soulful eyes approached me. Our eyes locked again, and she started to cry. Up close, I could see how beautiful she was — porcelain skin, a statuesque figure, a regal bearing, long wavy hair, piercing eyes. I reached out to hold her hand, and she wiped away a tear.
She asked if she could ask me her question privately. She hadnít wanted to put it on a card like everyone else. She wanted to connect with me personally. I nodded, and she said, ďIs there anything wrong with me for being a 21-year-old virgin?Ē
I reassured her that she was totally normal for being a 21-year-old virgin and that I hadnít lost my virginity until later in life. In fact, my college roommate and I joked about it and called each other Virgin.
She said, ďBut why doesnít any boy want to sleep with me?Ē I laughed without meaning to. I mean, you should have seen this gorgeous creature, who — as it turns out — is a model. My giggle at the ridiculousness of her statement was followed by tears that came to my eyes as I saw her weeping.
Her comment launched us into a whole conversation about what it means to lose your virginity and how you know when the time is right. I wonít share with you what we spoke about — it was private. But suffice it to say that we had a moment — a profound moment — that made the whole event worth it for me.
It made me realize that we just never know what the Universe has in store for us. I was feeling disappointed that I hadnít attracted a larger audience, but what if that wasnít the point? What if the Master Plan intended for me to meet just this one girl? What if our moment becomes a turning point for her so that she realizes how beautiful she really is, without waiting for some guy to affirm what I saw inside of her, the beauty that comes from within? What if our connection changes her life?
What if this is true for all of us? Maybe things donít go quite the way you hoped, but how do you know what the Universe has planned? What if, instead of judging the outcome, you make yourself willing to just go along for the ride? What if itís all just perfect, exactly the way life is happening?
Thatís my a-ha moment today, that the Universe does not need for me to be in charge, that things donít have to go the way I want them to, that success can come in one simple human connection that can change everything.
What about you? Have you had experiences like this? Are you able to set goals but release attachment to outcomes? Can you recognize the small miracles when they happen?