No, no . . . not one of those things for your furnace or for your car. (Confession: I wouldn't know about that stuff.) I'm talking about the all-elusive and intangible filter for people with big, fat mouths. Specifically, my big, fat mouth! (And maybe my much-too-loud, slightly alarming personality.)
What feels like a billion years ago, I worked in a bookstore. It was a dream job for me as books have always been "my thang." I navigated the moving and re-shelving of the self help section, avoided the porn beneath the counter, and steered clear of the odd ducks who frequented the SciFi corner. Overall, the job was bang-a-rang!
My "book store boss" was one of the very first in my life to point out I lacked a filter. She would always say, "You are so blunt, you are so blunt." And I would always think, "What does that mean? What does that mean?!"
One year I decided to take my filterless concerns to "The Big Guy" and ask him for help. And by "Big Guy" I mean the man in the red suit who lives at the North Pole! I wrote him a letter:
Dear Santa: For Christmas this year, I would like a filter. So I don't just blurt out whatever kooky thing comes to my mind. And I want a hearing aid for my mom. So when I tell her, "I'm asking Santa for a filter," she doesn't ask, "Why do you want a futon?"
I'm still waiting for Santa to deliver.
Then there was that time I was grocery shopping with the kiddos. (Side note: The moment I step foot inside a grocery store, with cart and kids in tow, I'm on a mission. Get in. Get out. Before someone pees their pants. Or sits on the eggs. Or throws a can of beans at the cashier.) So there I was . . . pushing my cart up and down the aisles, mentally reviewing my shopping list in my head and whether or not I had all the ingredients for taco soup, when the guy pushing his cart in front of me stopped abruptly. Very abruptly.
"Oh my gosh! I am so sorry! I just ran my cart into your butt!," I said.
"Oh . . . um . . . okay . . .," he said, bewildered.
See? No filter.
When I first met my new neighbor--a delightful dude with great hair, who is very young, newly married, and utterly twitterpated over his bride--I called him a BABE. To his face. He looked scared.
No filter, no filter, no filter!
I suppose the positive "ray of light" that shines down on all this filterless mayhem is the fact that I am real. So ridiculously and unabashedly real. I am honest. I am authentic to the point of vulnerability and heartache. I am sure there are people who, as James says, "don't know how to take me," and I'm okay with that. I've toiled and labored to become okay with that. Because I am me. I like who I am.
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Fantastic, right? I have always loved that quote and I have always loved Ralphy! He was a brilliant, poetic, cool cat, and I think we can trust him. I think it's okay--more than okay--to be our beautiful selves.
OH MY GOSH, YOU GUYS! Is it possible I DO NOT NEED A FILTER after all!?!