There are moments in your life when you meet someone and absolutely know that you were meant to meet them. Last summer, I picked up a couchsurfer from Canada from the train station completely unaware of what I was in for.
Kristi is a very polarizing individual – people either love her or hate her. She’s short and has this spunky vibe to her – a little skater chick who doesn’t back down from a good debate. She equates honesty with integrity and doesn’t apologize or compromise. She’s one of those people that will give one the freedom to define himself based on what he makes of her.
It takes a really strong person to do that successfully. The power yielded by this mere act either pushes someone towards greatness or complete destruction. In many ways, she embodies Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction – with the capacity to burn the ego (and not without some burn marks and extreme pain) but through that comes great power and awareness. With Kristi, you either rise to the challenge or you don’t – there’s no middle ground and no negotiation. She’ll be the first to call you out when deemed necessary. She’ll also lend an ear or hand to the realization process.
Like many women with a talent for uncovering people’s insecurities and forcing them to own up to who they are so they may lead a fulfilled life, she’s no stranger to the types of stones people throw towards women that yield great power. “Bitch. Abrasive. Aggressive. Difficult.” ring out and stones are cast in the wrong direction. “Better use of energy to throw stones at a mirror,” Kristi contends. Ultimately, she does what she does out of love.
It reminds me of a quote from the great yoga teacher Ana Forrest, “I love you so much that I won’t let you hold on to your own bullshit anymore,” she’s said to say to students as they are grunting through difficult poses.
There are very few people I have ever met that have the courage to be so bold as to be themselves in every moment – completely unaltered versions – regardless of social conventions. The most shocking thing is the way that she, being completely and transparently herself, can threaten so many people.
Kristi calls this her gratitude activism. “If people are grateful that they live in one of the richest provinces of Canada, have food in their bellies and money in their wallet then they usually won’t have a negative reaction to me.” Her critics usually find that it’s not her that they are so unhappy with, but themselves.
“Life is too short to compromise or apologize for who you are.”
To Kristi: my gratitude for being you.