Behind the Eyes –
I saw a picture of me from several years ago today. As most people, I don’t care for my photo to be taken but when it is I “grin and bear it.” Looking at the picture today the smile was there but it wasn’t genuine. There was also something missing in the eyes. There was no light behind them. They were hollow and sad. I was surrounded by friends in the photo, good friends. It should’ve been a time of stories, thankfulness, and memories but I can tell in my eyes it wasn’t any of those for me, only a blank stare and pasted smile. This was about a year before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder.
The journey over these last years has been a hard one and there is still far to go but looking back I can see where I’ve come from and this does bring me relief. I’m not stuck in the same place even though sometimes it feels that way.
I’ve been watching a documentary titled; “The Kingdom of Us.” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/08/the-kingdom-of-us-review-netflix-teenagers-lucy-cohen) It is the story of a family recovering from their father’s suicide. They listen to recordings of his voice, often in song, and watch videos of him and the family. They ask each other repeatedly, “Look at him! He’s so sad. Why didn’t we see it?” I know the answer; “because he didn’t want it to be seen.” We’ve all been there and done that; plastered on a smile when our hearts are breaking inside. We’ve pushed on even though everything feels broken inside.
Too often we take people’s word when we ask; “How are you?” and they reply; “Fine’ or ‘Good.” The key to discovering the truth is asking more than once and keep at it until they feel you might actually want to know.
What Did You Hear?
Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.
A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”
It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.
Listening is a sacred act, do it well.
Wrong Way –
This morning, on my way to Bedford, Tennessee, I took a wrong turn, went the wrong way. It wasn’t the wrong street. I knew exactly where I was, where the road would take me, but today was the wrong time to travel it.
Some way, somehow, I missed the; “Road Work Ahead” sign. About a quarter of a mile down the road I had to steer around a large road roller. Then I came upon a road grader who was spreading sand. The sand was thick and difficult to drive through. Then, around the corner, there was a dump truck, in the middle of the road, putting sand on it. I stopped and realized I had made a mistake making the turn and traveling this road. I turned around in someone’s driveway, made my way past the grader and the roller and back to the main highway. I reset my GPS and continued on road less impeded by giant machines.
Wisdom teaches us that not every way, even the familiar ones, are always open to us. Some roads are closed off to us and missing the signs can make the way difficult and dangerous.
Yesterday evening, on my way to my incarcerated fathers’ class, a woman driving behind me decided I wasn’t going fast enough and decided to ride my bumper to make sure I knew her disapproval. My frustration was starting to grow when I glanced out the driver’s side window and noticed the beautiful sunset. In that moment my angst and anxiety disappeared. It was beautiful and I almost missed it because my focus was on what was bugging me instead of more wondrous things. I even said out loud to the woman whose concentration was still on me going faster or getting our her way; “Look to your left! See what you’re missing!”
Life is full of both grandeur and aggravations. Each fill our days and we decide which we’ll spend our lives searching for. Choose wisely for you’ll find that which you seek.