Saturday, February 11, 2012

I am YOU

A student asked, “Would you rather be deaf or blind?” It was a tough question. I never had considered. I gave an answer. I can’t recall what. I still am not sure, given the option, which I would choose.

I process my world through words. I always have. I talk and write and sing and think and question and wonder, out loud and with expression. I list and read and study and joke and pontificate to no end. I am a surly sort if my words stay only in my head and are not given the expression they so desire. I pout and crab and seek out groups just to gather those groups and spout off my opinion, my opinion on anything, on anything at all, on anything from Buddha to baking to breastfeeding basics. I am fortunate to have found a job that pays me to talk. I am expected, in fact, to talk, and to talk a lot. I am equally excited to have a hobby where words are a matter of course. Writing without words would be, well, would just be thinking.

But this is the thing. My words come only because of my place in this world, because of the life that is happening all around me. I am not alone here. Likewise, I must have someone with whom to express those words, those thoughts, those opinions. How, in fact, would I get my words if I could not see or could not hear?

Right now, in the middle of this busy café, could I not hear I would miss the small talk of those waiting in line. I would miss the conversation between the woman in the khaki slacks and the man in the black hoodie. She has two boys and a girl. They are impatient and typical as far as teenagers and college kids go. They don’t want much to be seen in public with their mother, so she is here by herself. She would love to be back at the baby stage as is this young father standing next to her. The father is frustrated because his daughter is protesting loudly and drawing much attention. She does not, it seems, want to be here. The woman assures him that this phase will be over before he knows, that one day he will look at this grimace-faced little angel and she will be walking across a stage in cap and gown, diploma in hand. She will look at you and will tell you how lucky she is to have you for a dad. She will give you a hug and a kiss, and with the back seat of her car loaded with all of her worldly possessions, she will be gone. She will be gone, and you will be standing by yourself in line waiting for a sandwich or a scone.

If I could not hear I would miss that great passing of life and love and lessons in parenting from one to another.

If I could not see I would miss the woman in the corner with the funky artsy cane and the red orthopedic shoes. She is old in body, yes, but not in heart. Bottle thick glasses, she reads with focus and determination. I catch a glimpse of the gorgeous gray haired senior on the cover and the suggestion that aging can be both bold and beautiful. I want this book. I want this attitude. I want to know more. But as I crane my neck to grab the title she sits the book down. I quickly turn my eyes as she reveals the other book I have failed to notice. It is a nice thick trashy romance. I am not certain guys look like that in real life. At least I know they don’t wear their jeans so low as that. Or open like that. With their hands like that. Oh, GAWD! And she is not embarrassed in the least being seen with this. She finishes the chapter and her cookie as if it is no big thing. As if she has just sat down with the morning copy of the Times, checking the weather perhaps.

I love my world. I love the hearing and the seeing of it. Could I live and adjust if either of these were gone? Yes. But as long as I CAN see and as long as I CAN hear, I am thankful for both. I am thankful for the words of encouragement that one of you sent me, the words suggesting that I am an amazing person and have made a difference in your life. Honestly, I think everyone should hear such at least once a day. The message was wonderful, and it is still in my head. I’m keeping it. I am thankful for the apology I received this morning, an apology for words that hurt me to my core without the intent of doing such. I am thankful for the laughter that surrounds me now as I sit pounding at my keyboard. Sometimes it is difficult to hear such chuckling and not respond in kind. I am smiling, but doing my best to refrain as I am by myself and may be thought strange should I burst out in a big belly laugh. I am thankful for the conversation between mother and daughter sitting beside me. I know now that my relationships with my own daughters are not so far off target and that we may be more normal, whatever that means, than I think.

I am thankful for what I see each day. I am thankful for the faces of my four beautiful children, faces that sometimes look very much younger, VERY much younger, depending on my mood and how old I am feeling at the time. I am thankful for that photo one of you sent me. It made me laugh. And I do so love to laugh. I am thankful for the message I was able to read because I could see, the message from one of you about how it is okay to be who I am, how it is okay because we are all human and human is not perfect, ever, is not without feeling or flaw. And neither is human without a fabulous light, a light that exists within each of us, a light that we are to take out each day and shine back at others.

When I reflect now on my student’s question, it is not that I am thankful for my hearing or thankful for my seeing, and would greatly miss either should it be gone. Rather, it is that I am thankful for you and would miss you should you be gone.

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