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  • Writer's pictureRoxy Humphrey

Ryan Reynolds helped me figure out what I want to be when I "grow up"...

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

I recently watched an interview with Ryan Reynolds on the TV Show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. I have been enamoured lately with action movies and Ryan Reynolds has been in a lot of them. In the interview, I was surprisingly touched with how such a famous and "successful" actor talked about the complexity of his relationships and his own quirks. To be fair, he was impeccably dressed and in the middle of his amazingly gorgeous home and he's openness about his life was a little more than what I expected from someone who lives in the midst of such luxury. However, I was nonetheless impressed. What's more, while I appreciated seeing that honesty in the actor, it also made me curious about who has been a loving witness to this person in a way that they could talk so openly about their lives to a worldwide audience (I imagine it is likely his wife, mother, or therapist). I admit that I used to want to be the famous one in the chair being interviewed - I have had many fantasies about being discovered as a hidden talent. I even wrote a mini novella as a kid where I went on tour with NKOTB, and Joey MacIntyre ended up falling in love with me (of course). At the end of the tour, we spontaneously shared the stage and sang a duet and blew the crowd away!

More and more, though, I wonder about the people behind the person in the spotlight (which I hope is a sign of maturity). Who are the ones that provide a relational presence to those who live in the spotlight such that they can, with candor and integrity, face large audiences in the fulness of their humanity?

In fact, I wonder about this all the time as I face people who I think are unusually awake and aware and fully themselves - how did they become so free? My hunch is that the ability to become oneself involves being seen in the ‘fullness of possibility’ by someone else.* Author and existential psychotherapist, Irvin Yalom, talks about how he hopes the impact he makes in the world will ripple out, that the impact he might make will be like the rippling of the waves as it moves further and further away from the source. Trauma therapist, Bonnie Badenoch, talks about increasingly becoming a ‘therapeutic presence’ in the world in a similar way. I also aspire to something similar. When I think of how I want to embody my life, both personally and professionally, I would say that I want to be like the warmth at someone’s back. Something about the sun shining on my back makes me relax and ease into the moment. It makes me aware of my spine and also softens me. I become aware of my skin - the outer limits of myself. I hope to be that warmth for other people so that they can become aware of both their strength and their tenderness. I want people to know, when they are in my presence and after, the outer edge of themselves.

Who have been the people in your life who have offered you that same warmth? For me, my own ability to know myself in my fullness has been through relationships with people who have offered presence to me. I would be happy to work with you if you are in need of that same presence - but I also hope that you are able to identify those same relationships in your own life or begin to foster them. Just as a plant needs sun to grow, so too do we need radiating warmth in relationships to grow and be nourished.

*"the fullness of possibility" is a quote from black theologian Howard Thurman, who had a profound impact on Martin Luther King, Jr.

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