Oncoming Spring

Posted: June 7, 2010 in people
Tags: ,

“The conflict with the inspector  happened because she couldn’t read the social cues,” I said, “It’s part of her disability.”

“Oh, I totally get that,” she said, standing behind the food counter. “It’s just that other people don’t.”

“I know,” I replied, “and then it’s like they think she’s just making a choice to be difficult, but she’s not. It’s because of her brain damage.”

I could feel a bit of extra humidity in the corner of my eyes. I could see it in hers too. We looked straight at each other in a way people just don’t do across a public counter.  In this instant we bonded over our understanding of the pain resident in the complications of relationships compounded by disabilities. Our eyes seemed to reach out and touch.

I wonder lately, are there really any other kinds of human relationships, ones without disabilities complicating them? And do we often stop to look at the many shades of emotion resident in our failed attempts to communicate with each other?

A day earlier I sat a lunch in a restaurant on the other side of town.  

“Fear isn’t a disease,” he said. “It’s normal. Everybody has it.”

I sat there not eating, just looking at the astonishment on his face. It was fascinating, his knowing smile. It had taken 30 years  of brilliant psychiatrists getting it wrong for him to realize that inside  he knew the truth all along.

“Everybody is afraid,”  he said, ” not just the people who did drugs in high school”.

“Etiology is tricky,”  I thought to myself; the professionals made a muck of this. They blamed his fears on him.

I nodded to him, flashing back to a few of my own seasons of terrible anxiety. And I thought about how I keep running into this —  learning embedded in feeling. How being human is about some kind of rich affectivity realized and accepted.

I will always remember kicking my fins along the coral wall in Kauai,  excitedly pushing myself toward a large school of Achilles tangs. I still remember the joy of  their dark purple bodies, their bright orange tear drops and their blazing white highlights, the sudden and odd thrill of the unexpected combination of vibrant colors swimming together like some kind of underwater mobile home painted by a madman.

I think that emotions are like this. You turn a corner, kick a couple of times and there — a new school of them, unexpectedly colored, swimming with you. Then, as you approach, off they dart  together into the deep, you in mad pursuit of something amazing.

I like this. It reminds me of Charles Burchfield’s painting, “Oncomming Spring,” where the cold, white snow is melting into the ground and the trees are all ablur with  motion, everything moving in the storm, all of nature alive to the wind and the bright yellow warmth that will bring life to the dry, brown trunks.  I like how the windows open between the tree frames to blue skies. Life is found in such movements toward things not yet fully realized.

Older, I’m more aware of the storms within. Now I find it increasingly odd, how relational Achilles heels and all the emotions schooling with them are so much rejected in the public sphere — those places where we too much see the tight lips, the polyurethane expressions, the harsh judgments and the keratitis sicca.

I feel.

 I am.

 I am open to feel.

I grieve over the emotional damage that has been done by people who refuse to acknowledge the validity of feelings, those who have said to others, after causing extreme pain to them, “I’d advise you not to talk about how you feel. That’s not going to help here.”  Cause a reaction, and stifle the reactor?

I grieve over those who only say to their children, “Don’t be afraid.” Better it be sometimes said, “I too have been afraid. I know how you feel.”

I grieve over how those who have caused extreme emotional hurt to others have then turned and said, “I’m not hurt,” as if it is possible  to damage others and for that not to damage ourselves.

It’s storming. And I will be a Charles Burchfield and  go out and paint it. This is reality.  I see windows opening up upon our emotional realities.

This is reality, beautiful, heart wrenching emotional reality, to go out into the tossing ocean and swim with the purple and orange tangs again.

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