“I like to think that everybody is trying to do the best they can.” Something Teo Tyler said to me years ago, when I wondered why she was cutting an obvious pompous idiot so much slack….
I’m back, and sloooooowly recovering from, the League of NH Craftsmen’s Annual Craftsmen’s Fair at Mt. Sunapee (aka, although misleading, the “Sunapee Fair”. Misleading because there’s another, much smaller local event also known as the “Sunapee Fair”. Oh well. It’s hard to confuse us once you’ve seen us both.)
As usual, a lot of beautiful and powerful moments at the Fair, lots of validation for an artist, and great sales, too. And also as usual, lots of exhaustion, frustration, nerves and angst.
And as usual, over the next few weeks, I’ll strive to put the latter into prospective, and the former into the forefront of my heart.
Today, though, I write about a thought I had as my head hit the pillow last night, a thought that stayed with me til I woke this morning:
I’m thinking how desperately we want to be seen.
Not just noticed. (“Look at that woman’s funny red hair, mama!”) Not recognized (“She’s the artist!”) Not just acknowledged. (“Madam cashier, may I interrupt your conversation with the bag boy to introduce myself? I’m your paying customer!!!!“)
We all want to be seen as the person we believe ourselves to be. The person we want to believe ourselves to be, that is.
We don’t want to be seen as needy, or pitiable, or desperate. We don’t want to be seen as crazy, or nagging, or pathetic.
We all want to be seen as a person who is doing the best we can.
At this moment, right now, with everything we have on our plate. Plates. Plate??
Oddly, my thought about this is, sometimes the best way we can show someone we truly see them is to listen to them.
So if someone wants desperately to be seen as smart, and quick, and capable, then I have to tamp down my lizard-brain reaction to say, “Well, I’m smart and quick and capable, too!” I have to try really really hard to just shut up and watch. And be amazed that, by golly, they are smart, and quick, and capable. And that fact doesn’t diminish me one little bit.
I have to understand that if someone is trying desperately to impress me with their wit (even if it’s at my expense) and their brilliant conversation (even if I can’t get a word in edgewise), then I have to smack down my lizard-brain reaction for a few minutes. Just sit back and let them do their dance. And be amazed that, by golly, they are witty, and brilliantly conversant. And that fact does not diminish me one little bit.
I have to understand that if someone is trying really, really hard to do the right thing, because they really don’t want to be “that guy”, and they want their efforts to be acknowledged (even if what I want is an apology), then I have to lose the judge-y-ness and the righteous indignation, and give them some credit. And be amazed, by gosh, that they really are trying to do the right thing–because they care.
It’s hard. It’s really hard.
Because like the proverbial one-finger-pointing-at-you, three-finger-pointing-back-at-me thing (Try it. Point at something. See?), all these things that piss me off? I’m more guilty of them than anyone else.
And that’s why I, of all people, should understand where that impulse is coming from.
Because I want to be seen as smart, and quick, and capable, and witty, and brilliantly conversational.
Because I’m usually the one rattling off a mile a minute, not letting you get a word in. Not letting you be right, for a change. Not accepting, or understanding that you, too, are simply here, trying to do your best.
And in showing you just how effin’ brilliant I am, I am not letting YOU shine.
So today I continue my little brave exercises, exercises I hope will atrophy my over-worked lizard-brain a little, and strengthen my better-intentioned heart.
When I’m tempted to put you in your place, I will bite my (very sharp) tongue instead.
In place of a retort, I will strive for the gentle rejoinder. Better yet, I will try for the respectful silence.
I will gaze at you with love, and awe, and respect for the person you already are. I will honor the person you don’t have to prove yourself–not for one minute, not to me–to be.
I will see you.
(With heartfelt apologies to Jon, and Jen, and Nancy. And with deep gratitude for all you do, with delight and amazement for who you are. Namaste)