[Part One can be found here.]
“The Ghost’s of Chris’s Present”
Individuals are my jam. They are complex in a singular way. It is easy to give them my undivided attention. It is easy to gather data points. Instead of categorizing them and looking for validating marks of agreement, each person starts with a fresh slate, and a fresh page. It is glistening white. I draw them as I try to draw out their deeper selves. It’s their insides I am trying to capture.
Amongst a group, there are almost two individuals I am trying to get a read on. First, is the larger collective, and second are the independent people within it. The larger construct is obvious, so I tend to look past it. Within the forest I find a tree — something or someone that stands out.
The experience is broken down into pieces. As I quickly scan and scrutinize certain parts, I am looking for contrast. It feels like I am searching for threat or opportunity. I like to live ahead of myself in anticipation, and I think it is harder to instinctually anticipate if you belong to something. You loosen and miss things. There are assumptions and biases and cataloguing. You believe you know who they are. You get surprised instead of informed.
I recently had a hard call with my Mom. Having recently spent nine weeks at home to help care for her (because she cares for my Dad and because my online working circumstances allowed it) I had experienced exactly what she was broken up about. My Dad’s mental state has slipped considerably, and continues to decline. He can no longer take care of himself — but he cannot accept the reality of that fact. He also still pays all the bills, which is important. In his mind he is still fulfilling his fatherly and husbandly duties as a financial provider, which, is how he has defined care for 70 years. He, too, sets up tomorrow by sacrificing today. He set up this tomorrow with the health of yesterday. If he could have forseen this, I wonder if anything would have changed.
My Mom was very upset because she was on the phone scheduling and checking up on his many doctor’s appointments, and in the background, he started yelling. She was checking on him being double-booked, and he was insisting that he was not. (Translation: I can keep track of my appointments. AKA I know and am capable of taking care of myself). My Dad treats my Mom as if she is the enemy instead of his caregiver. The shouting was incessant, personal, and insulting, and she eventually had to just hang up the phone. She called me shaking and frightened because she just had heart surgery. She could not understand why he would act like that when all she was doing is trying to help him.
As we talked, we realized that her value is in fixing problems. With everyone in our immediate family. She is fantastic at it, and so she naturally assumes that role. What REALLY bothered her was that his bullying interruption prevented her from solving the problem and essentially doing her job.
I am a lot like my Mom. And I am a lot like my Dad. The characters we gravitate toward dictate our being. Getting into the nuances and details of that explains a lot.
Regarding this concept of community, at first I thought, “I don’t understand it”. Perhaps a more fitting description is that I have divorced myself from it. I have disassociated and forgotten. Because I really am befuddled as to what the point of purely social gatherings are. But I also fully recognize they are desired.
Through thinkmovement, I am trying to find my way back. The desire and purpose of teaching and learning brings me out of my personal workshop. It makes me feel responsible for checking in on others, and, there are times, when I let the cracks of vulnerability show. During my presentation on my home turf at the first CareLab, which was literally about building and prioritizing reciprocal relationships (through a shared passion of the work), I went off on a tangent on how I left my long distance partner early to go home and fix the fence. I tearily wondered why I do that. (Only those in attendance will ever see it, because my video editor smoothly removed it from the posted presentation. A perfectly symbolic masking.).
As I recounted in part one, I think I know. I was tired of being disappointed, and work is so two-dimensional, so I started treating it as a person. I am good at this. I am really good at this. How good can I get if nobody gets in my way?
I have recognized, though, that I need people to be valuable as a problem solver. Though I am excellent at creating and finishing tasks of maintenance and upgrades around the house, it’s never quite the same as working with another human. There is something so remarkable about good conversation. It gives and takes, energizes and depletes (depending on what role I choose to play).
I want to learn and I want to know sincerely. Beyond the costumes and masks and designating hats. Perhaps a friendly ghost is the exact sort of being one can feel relaxed and completely themselves with. Perhaps I am trying to rouse out the other ghosts, so that I can see me through them; a truth seeker rather than a truth sayer that can model transparency. Both seen and sought. Would that be true, then the most puzzling (and albeit terrifying) question remains: Could they be as interested in me as I am in them?