Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Encouragement - "Hello, My Name is No! No! Bad Dog! What's Yours?"

Let no embarrassment be forsaken and go unpublished seems to be a theme this year for me. As I live through the memories and persevere, each shame returns metamorphosed as something beyond my wildest imagination.  I'm beginning to get the impression that I remember these things for a reason beyond the need to tenderly nurture my low self-esteem.  I suspect that reason has something to do with realizing the fallibility of the human experience and my ability to hastily criticize myself and others. Perhaps it has something to do with developing compassion for those who err and sometimes err really, really BIG (to put it nicely).  The only thing I seem to consistently forget is how good I can be and  how much better I am for my exploits. That requires constant reminders. Doing what is necessary to let myself be reminded is what this post on encouragement is about.

Again this humiliation is a spawn of something I wrote and shared inappropriately...I actually can't recall EXACTLY what I wrote as I sit here.  It is too awful to recall in its entirety, I'm thinking...but I remember the gist of it.  It had to do with being rescued by Dustin Hoffman.  This awkward missive was a thinly veiled attempt at my trying to coerce someone into doing my bidding, if I remember right.  It was a sad passive aggressive tactic and it was definitely about my desperation over being ignored, unseen...invisible.  That pain I recall vividly. Someone who had more sense than I knew to steer clear and probably saved everyone involved a great deal of heartache by doing so; however, being on the receiving end of the snub, I was thrown into deep emotional turmoil. I really needed to be seen and I had no idea how to do it. To be fair, I was writing within a spiritual emergency or, if you prefer, a psychotic break, at the time.

I wasn't born invisible.  I was healthy and, though not a stunner, I got by.  Mostly I used what looks I had to get what I needed and wanted.  It was how I was raised and it was what society seemed to expect of me.  Mostly though it came from being a first generation born American raised by a Grandmother who was born in an eastern block country.  The family's goal was to pass me off above my station...and my station was a hike from even the other side of the tracks, being very nearly illegitimate and obviously fatherless in the 50's. Personally, I could have cared less about "stations" and the society my family perceived as critical.  I was a hippy.  I felt as though I got "a pass" on having to care about that stuff.  It didn't stop my genetic disposition to use people and be an opportunist though.  That ran much deeper than popular culture and it grew as the seed of  my misfortunes as a young adult.

When I became ill in the 90's it was as if the warranty expired on my body.  I quit smoking, made some moves to develop healthier habits and immediately became very ill with thyroid failure.  That triggered other hormonal dysfunctions.  Weeks later I woke up to weigh 180 pounds and there was no way back.  That was 14 years ago.  By taking on the weight, I had become completely disarmed and vulnerable. My journey in the interim has been very much about trying to understand and adjust to the impossibility of my being able to allow myself visibility within the same psychological and social paradigm that I had established for myself in my youth.  I kept asking myself for years, "When do I get to be appealing to others and get use that again?"  Now the answer is, "Happily, never."  I look at this picture of myself and feel such mixed emotions. Mostly I feel sad and I want to relate to myself in the third person for the sake of my sanity.  Unfortunately, I realize that most people would look at that picture, chuckle and wonder what the hell happened?...just before they remembered they are not supposed to think that.

So I was really heartened when I saw this small video clip of Dustin Hoffman compassionately sharing how he recognized his limited ability to recognize what is interesting in a woman who did not look appealing or attractive. What he said took my breath away. My mercy seat was within the words: "...If I'm going to be a woman, I would want to be as beautiful as possible..." The knowledge and validation of that being unnecessary was very liberating and having Dustin Hoffman recognize that on his own terms made my rescue complete. I feel encouraged as if through some twist of fate; some kink in my my 1970's endangerment soared out to the edges of the universe and returned in this explanation regarding being visible.  It is a bold and courageous testament from Dustin Hoffman about both compassion and the ability to see beyond our personal bias:

 ...brainwashed, indeed. We are all brainwashed...and I am sincerely encouraged that we will all get our power and compassion back eventually. As I watch Hoffman share his epiphany, I believe once more that we can learn and we can apply what we learn...and would it hurt to be encouraged to expect some kind of miracle while we are working so hard at being better people?

Here is George giving us six musical minutes to contemplate how pervasive this inability to see goes in our lives and the lives of everyone around us; a reminder to be well, be compassionate and strive to remain interesting.

Thanks to Darkhorsegeorge for the Harrison video and AFI for the interview clip.

1 comment:

George Jaccoud said...

Hi Cile,

I guess I'm a little different. Don't get me wrong -- I love beautiful looking women, but have learned over the years that there's much more to a woman than her looks. (I guess the same could be said about men.)

I'm going out on a limb here, but I believe most men at pre-programmed to procreate; therefore, we find women of a certain age (childbearing) and shape (large breasts) attractive -- not attractive as in I'd like to spend the next 50 years with you, but I'd sure like to procreate with you.

Maybe I'm just getting old . . . ;-)