leave no trace? maybe not the best idea

Once upon a time there was a nice lady.
Let's call her...hmmm...Lamb Pyon.
Don't worry, she's no one you know.

The thing about Lamb was that you could take her anywhere. She was chatty and what not. The world was her cocktail party, and whenever she met a new person, she was always trying to find where the two of them overlapped and Venn-diagrammed. She believed every two humans did overlap at some point.

Also Lamb really liked people to be comfortable and happy. She hated to see anyone feel left out, and I mean HATED it. She also hated for people to argue. Sometimes she'd see two people discussing an issue and disagreeing. She worried that one or both of them felt disliked or unaccepted. The conflict felt unbearable. She would step in to help them stop debating - Hey! Look at me! I'm tap dancing! I'm tap dancing and juggling! Hey - stop arguing - I'm tap dancing and juggling and reciting the preamble to the US Constitution!"
And sometimes people would stop discussing and look, mostly because she couldn't do those things, so it was interesting to to watch her try.

Sometimes they'd act surprised that it bothered her though. They'd say, "Hey, don't worry. We're good. We are just discussing. It's okay for people to have different opinions." Lamb was unconvinced. It made her feel so clenchy inside. She'd think, "Probably you are wrong, but if you must continue, I will have to look away." And she'd go to Google to look up the parts she got wrong in the preamble. Which was all the parts.

After awhile, Lamb realized she couldn't prevent every person's argument or discomfort. The best she could do was refrain from causing anyone discomfort. So she did. Her new strategy became:


And it wasn't even that hard.  All she had to do was sweep aside the majority of issues or choices in life; the rest became non-issues. Where to eat; which political party; taste in music: all swept to the side.  She let other people decide the "small" issues and she resolved to be as easy going as possible. Her favorite phrases became "You have to choose your battles," and "That's not a sword I'd fall on." Man, it felt good and peaceful to say these.  She loved knowing she'd never upset someone by making a choice might be wrong or cause someone pain. This strategy suited her.  Mostly.
She had to eat more sushi than she preferred, and for a brief period she was a Socialist, but otherwise, mostly she was happy. These sacrifices seemed small in comparison to people feeling comfortable.

Then one day, she was eating Twizzlers.
(Another thing about Lamb is that she loved candy. I mean LOVED it...loved it almost as much as she hated conflict. Based on the amount of candy she consumed weekly, she deserved to have zero teeth and be in a constant sugar coma. But she could handle her candy. She had the constitution of a junk yard dog).

As she held one Twizzler between her lips and twirled two others like cowboy lassos above her head, an idea took root in her mind. She had been mulling it over for weeks. The idea tugged at her soul, and threatened to unravel her modus operandi. This scared Lamb because she knew Latin.

All of the "battles" and "swords" she'd decided were "small issues" had seemed safe to discard. She hadn't minded sweeping them to the side. Not much. However, the one principle she'd decided mattered above all was big:

Every person should know that they are valuable, unique and loved, exactly as they are.

To be fair, Lamb didn't do a poor job at helping people know this. She was fascinated by people, their varied interests and personalities. It wasn't an effort to remind them they were valuable and beautiful. The problem was that she was having a harder and harder time remembering what her own unique parts were. She'd avoided so many choices and issues for so long.  What if some of those issues were significant parts of her?

But that day, holding that bendy Twizzler, she said to herself, "Something's been a bit off."
In the distance, or maybe deep in her soul, she heard a faint voice respond "Yes, Honey."

She thought, "People can take me anywhere because I bend and adapt until I match anyone? I've always thought that was my best trait. But how can a person leave no trace? They have to become almost no one. And SHOULD a person leave no trace? What if it's been a bit skewed? What if it's been hurting me...or even others?"

The inside of a Twizzler is hollow, like Lamb was feeling just then. 
Lamb pictured a thin delicate reed inside the licorice straw. A reed can bend one way or the other inside the Twizzler for awhile, but eventually it will snap. What if her most Lamby Lambness was that reed? What if she'd been thinking she was protecting everyone else's reed from bending towards her needs, but she'd been bending her own reed to the point of nearly snapping it? And she felt so tired from the bending. My god was she tired.

"But other people will be uncomfortable if they have to bend towards me sometimes," she fretted.
Hmmm. This was problematic.
It might even cause pain for others.
This sounded unacceptable.

She might have to say sometimes, "I really don't want sushi tonight. I really just want my fish cooked."

She might have to say, "I'm going to let you two people argue about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and let the two of you decide how it affects your friendship."

She might have to say, "I will choose to remember that I am not the whole world to you. You will not die with discomfort. You didn't even ask me to save you from it. In fact, you seem to be thriving. I'm the only one bent over like a shepherd's crook in this situation."

It was a lot for Lamb to consider.  It was daunting. 

"If I change, I can no longer 'leave no trace' or 'do no harm'." Making choices would leave traces...some good and some bad. But deep inside she knew her non-choices had left lots of traces and harm; they were just in her own soul instead of other people's. She wasn't sure she could hold anymore traces.

She knew she had no other choice.  "I can be honest as kindly as possible, but it won't always be comfortable for others. It will have to be good enough."  She sounded confident, but she was terrified.

Then she had a scarier thought:
What if you could ignore your own fragile reed so long that it was beyond repair? What if her relationships were beyond repair? She had a hunch though. She suspected that each reed--that unique beautiful core of each person making them who they were deep in their soul--might bend, grow thin, brittle, but it couldn't dissolve no matter how much a person neglected it.

Lamb also told her herself that learning this would be better for the people around her in the long run. She hoped so.  She knew it would be her best motivation.  Also bending and avoiding choices...it felt like lying in a way.

What if others were bending and adapting to the point of snapping too? She hated that thought for them. That helped her hate it for herself. The idea of humans roaming around bent and adapted instead of beautiful and straight and unique seemed treacherous. Who could maintain that forever? Their relationships might be like a fragile house of cards waiting to collapse, or worse, flutter away completely with the first breeze.

That was a sobering thought for her.
"If there's a god and he created us," she thought, "There's no way he intended something so hollow." And even if there's not, it's no way to live.