Two weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my husband, my cousin and her friend over dinner. Kaitlyn, my cousin, and Isabel, her friend, were visiting California and we were trying to decide on things they could do while in the area. We joked about meeting famous people because that’s what people like to think is going to happen when they come to LA.
They each threw out some names of people they’d like to meet, full-well believing it was never going to happen. And I, of course, didn’t say any names because, quite frankly, the idea of meeting someone I admire is terrifying. I’ve always imagined I’d be awkward and say all the wrong things and forget the important stuff, like actually telling the person how much I admire them. But Collin chimed in with a name on my behalf and said, “Peter.”
Kaitlyn and Isabel didn’t know who my husband was talking about, so I explained it was Pete Holmes, the host of my favorite podcast. I explained that we refer to him as “Peter” in our home – an inside joke, as if we know him personally. I told them how much I love You Made It Weird and Crashing, and how I want to be like Pete Holmes when I grow up, only half-kidding because I’m already thirty. I said they should check out his podcast and they agreed.
We decided to go hiking the next day, which is a must-do activity in Southern California. It was going to be a beautiful not-too-hot day, so the next afternoon we hiked up a popular trail in the area, enjoyed the views through the maritime fog and made our way back down just before the sunset.
As we approached our car, I looked out in the distance and saw two familiar faces walking towards me. I recognized the small frame of the woman first, then my eyes traced up the taller frame of the man. I had to do a double take and then a triple take before my brain would believe that it was actually Pete Holmes and his wife Valerie.
They walked right past us, luckily not noticing my gaping mouth and the tears welling up in my eyes. I was in a bit of shock, and not for the fact I had seen someone famous, but because this particular famous person had had such a profound impact on my life. (And because we had just joked about this very occurrence the night before.)
When Collin, Kaitlyn and Isabel saw the look on my face they all looked back and said, almost in unison, “Was that Peter?” I could only nod and just kept walking to the car. My rational brain took over; there was no way I was going to approach him.
But my husband wasn’t going to let this moment pass. He wasn’t going to let me let my fear run the show. Collin ran back and asked Pete and his wife if they would mind a quick meeting. They graciously agreed and my husband waved me over.
As I walked over, I pulled myself together and tried to think of what I might say, my mind drawing a blank. I wanted to be respectful of their time, so I kept my introduction short and sweet. We shook hands, exchanged names and I congratulated Pete and Valerie on their recent wedding.
Pete asked me if I was a fan of his podcast and I said, “Yes, I’m a Weirdo,” in reference to the name he affectionately calls his podcast listeners. We made a little bit of small talk and Pete even gave me one of his famous 20-second hugs before posing for a few pictures.
Honestly, the whole thing seemed normal in a way, and yet, surreal. He’s just another human being, but he’s also PETE HOLMES!!!! His story has been so helpful for me in navigating my spiritual life with less guilt and more openness and humor; and his podcast, in countless ways, has inspired and challenged the way I see the world. Meeting him was an honor.
But, of course, I forgot to say all of those things in the moment.
Ram Dass once said (a nod to my fellow Weirdos):
“Our interactions with one another reflect a dance between love and fear.”
This statement could not be more true of my own life. My love of human interaction is nearly equal to my fear of human interaction.
In nearly every conversation, I stumble over words and forget, or neglect, to say what I want to say because fear takes over. The perfectionist in me analyzes every word, wondering if I am saying enough (or too much), wondering if I am enough (or too much). I try and fail 100% of the time at making conversations just right because I want to feel like I am just right.
But, in nearly every conversation, there is also a love that carries me through that fear, a love that keeps me coming back and showing up for more of the magic, a love that whispers in my ear, you’ve always been worthy of this moment.
Ram Dass also said:
“There’s much more in any given moment than we usually perceive, and that we ourselves are much more than we usually perceive. When you know that, part of you can stand outside the drama of your life.”
Maybe my short interaction with Pete Holmes was a dance between love and fear, a drama of sorts. But maybe, as I’d like to think Pete himself might believe, it was also much more.
Do you ever find yourself dancing between love and fear in everyday interactions? Comment below with your story and be sure to share this post if it was meaningful to you.