Summer was ending soon, I was down on my luck, still scrambling for a job post-undergrad. My high school friend Tesla and I found our muse in a tea shop called Physical Graffitea in the East Village. S smiled to us as we came in. Her long black hair was tied in a loose braid, as if she had tied it spontaneously. A few wisps of hair were astray, her gold earrings and bangles twinkling. A bold red plaid hung from her body, contrasting with her soft brown complexion.
Tesla had her curious face on, scanning the rows and rows of tea. She asked, “Um, excuse me, could you give us an introduction or something?”
S nodded. “Here is our roibos collection, which features a fruity, tangy flavor. Here are our green teas for calming effects.”
For some reason, Tesla and I were entranced. We just keep nodding and smiling.
S continued to the next shelf, “And here are our mates, which will awaken your senses but still keep you calm.”
Tesla broke the silence with her squeaky exclamation: “Wow, you know so much! This was so informative. You must love your job.”
S laughed. Not a “yes-now-get-out-of-my-face” laugh of typical New York haughtiness. But one that made you actually believe S thought what you said was funny. S said to us, “I love my job, but I have to close up and head out in an hour. Heading over to Williamsburg tonight to watch my friend perform. Do you guys want to order anything?”
We ordered ourselves some yerba mate and one alfajor (made to perfection!), our spirits bursting with childish bemusement and inexplicable levity. How did S have that effect on us?
Her aura. Tesla and I concluded that S’ aura emanated this joy and easy-going effortless-ness that we wished we had. S was down-to-earth. Approachable. Knew how to do her job. How to tap into her own bohemian sense of style. How to talk to people. How to be a supportive friend.
And achieving “effortless-ness” in my daily life became my number one resolution of 2013.
Some people’s resolutions are formulated with particular quantifiable goals – lose 20 pounds, get that promotion, have a baby. Yet somehow in the search for numerical indicators of success, the qualitative is forgotten. How happy am I? Are my relationships with those around me healthy?
After a whole year (or more?) of depending on adrenaline, winging presentations and projects, it is evident that Tesla and I only saw one side of S. How did she do it all? She must have worked her freakin’ ass off.
It was so counterintuitive to me before, but it takes much effort to look effortless and make other things look effortless. Isn’t effortlessness just an illusion that not everything in life comes easy – that it is in fact the impression/feeling of effortlessness that you instill onto other people. Perhaps that ultimate effortlessness come from in part the preparation, in part the self-confidence that you can deliver. A final piece of this effortlessness enigma is this strange “aura of goodness and empathy” that requires me to dig deeper into myself and address the insecurities I must let go, the obstacles keeping me from empathizing with everyone around me.