I saw George Kalogridis, the current President of Walt Disney World, at an event in Orlando recently. Someone said to him, “Of course, you know Alice.” He had the same you-look-so familiar-to-me glaze I so often possess. George K Might have known my face — I was part of a storytelling troupe at Walt Disney World in the park George oversaw, so maybe. He might even have known my name at one time .
I tell myself that the reason I can’t put names and faces together is because I was at Disney World for twenty years. Having seen millions of faces sometimes total strangers look recognizable just because you’re human and I’ve seen so many of you. Sometimes a face I know fades into the millions I’ve seen and I can’t place it under ‘friend’ rather than just ‘human’.
When I shook George K’s hand, I didn’t know how to say all that in the moment. So I said, “I do know you, I was an actor for many years when you were the GM at Epcot.”
“Oh yes!” he said. Which of course he must say. I just hope he felt the release I granted him from the need to know me. I am also releasing myself from the need to be good a names and faces.
I’m releasing a lot this year. I had a birthday this month, not a significant milestone birthday but a step further into my fifties. I got to thinking about the build-up of habits that were created for my 20-year-old self, my 30-year-old self, even my 40-year-old self. Taking a Marie Kondo approach in the hopes that there will be some life-changing magic to tidying up my brain, I made a list, intending to touch each habit and see if it sparks joy. First on the list the ability to remember a face and a name.
Should I remember names and faces? Well, that might be wise in my current job in public relations, but honestly, it doesn’t spark joy for me. Desperately trying to pull up a database of faces and match them with names in my mind sparks something more like frenzied panic. So out it goes. A subcategory of names and faces is your birthday. Sorry. Number, name and face together?! It’s not going to happen. I will just have to be honest and let people know it’s a weakness of mine. Or let them think I’m an idiot.
Which is also on the list. Letting people think what they will of me was definitely not appropriate for my younger, people-pleasing self but it suits the fifties just fine. Releasing my imagined control over other people’s opinions is taking me a little more time.
To encourage me on, I picture my drawers with my Kondo-style folded undies and it gives me such pleasure.Envisioning my mental files folded in triple, stacked neatly in a row is amusing enough for me to see that habit just not fitting in. Out it goes.
The big one on the list is my definition of success. So much striving in the three decades prior to this moment. Now my sense of ambition is more: Meh. I’m here. Wherever here is. I do what I do. I like who I like.
Do I need a higher bar? I used to. As an actor the bar was get to the Johnny Carson show. Well, he’s gone and so is that drive.
The trick now is to discover what sparks joy and motivates me onward. That’s a habit worth forming. I might even be able to continue practicing that long after my drawers have gone back to a tossed salad approach over the Marie Kondo fold.
Categories: Alice's Voice