Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Seeing and being seen

I am aware that yesterday's post kind of wandered, and may have seemed disorganized. That will continue today.

Going out leading to being seen was a key component there, and that is going to play out in a different way today.

I went to see The Shape of Water a while back, and it led to two specific instances of being seen, though I am not sure that either of them means anything.

When I was in line to get my ticket, a man was walking toward me. He may have been homeless, but he also reminded me of someone who is frequently on my mind, though who absolutely was not in town right then. I was getting my wallet out and had cash in my hand, and I looked up and we made eye contact, and I think I nodded, I may have said "hi", and he returned the greeting and told me to enjoy the movie.

If he was in fact homeless, that could have been a very bitter thing - get your money and treat yourself while I don't get to do that. It could also have been dangerous, waving cash around after dark on a city sidewalk. But it wasn't any of that; we had good will for each other. It stayed with me, because it feels like there was some significance to it, but I don't know that there was anything else.

After the movie I glanced at the clock in the box office and saw that I was running about half an hour later than I thought I would be, which mattered because when my sister was going to show up at the train station was based on my guess. That bothered me, but there was nothing I could do about it so I just kept walking to catch the train.

At this point I should mention that the last movie I'd seen was Coco. It was excellent, but the aging parent with the fading memory slew me, and I was a wreck after seeing it. I decided after Coco that I just have an open wound, and I have to live with that. At the MAX platform after The Shape of Water I thought - ironically - that at least I was composed after seeing this movie. Then everything hit me.

This weight descended on me that my mother has dementia and I can't fix it and it makes things like getting to movies hard and I don't know at what rate it will get harder or how hard it will get before it is over, and the only way it ends is death - which is not comforting - and until then there are all of these money problems which I am not solving, that even the things that I thought would help aren't, that actually I am the loser who hasn't even been able to afford a phone payment so that even if I can't drive or maintain a car I could at least call the person who is coming to get me and give an accurate update of when I should be there instead of having them wait for half an hour because I got it wrong. Suddenly, I was crying again.

At this moment, I made eye contact with another guy waiting for the train. I know he saw me, his eyes acknowledged that he saw that I was crying, and I acknowledged that he saw it, but also turned away after that, because I didn't necessarily want to share it all with him.

It's not that I think he necessarily wanted that either. If he had asked me if I wanted to talk, I don't know that it would have mattered. The more upset I get the harder former words is. But there we were.

So those two incidents stood around the movie like book ends around the experience, and they may not relate to this last one, but maybe they do.

It did not happen in conjunction with a movie. I was getting groceries, and on my way out of the store I noticed a man resting at the blood pressure booth. He was not taking his blood pressure, but there was a chair there, and he needed it, and I couldn't just go past him.

I took out a $5 and said "You look tired," and gave it to him. He laughed a little,"I've been tired for a long time." I gave some kind of well wish. I don't even know. I know I immediately saw the person kind of monitoring the door and felt guilty, like maybe I drew attention to him.

Here's the thing: I know that part of his tiredness was weariness of not mattering and not being seen.

Five dollars is woefully inadequate for his needs, but that was the right amount because I can't afford to throw around twenties (which, realistically, are still inadequate) and ones would be not exactly insulting but still too paltry. Because the actual thing I was trying to give was a reminder that he mattered and he was seen, that will have a hard time standing up against all the other evidences against it. I improved a moment, but there are many moments ahead for both of us.

The other thing is that I could not stop thinking about it but I could not tell anyone about it until my sister confessed that she had sent a get well gift to someone we know who had been in an accident, and it felt stupid doing it because it wasn't someone we are close too, or something that will really help, or actually I don't know why we find so many reasons to be embarrassed about the kind things we do.

I mean, I know there is conditioning to keep your well-doing secret so that you don't get proud over it, and there is a lot of conditioning (especially for women) to only really be aware of your flaws because no one likes conceited people, so I get not blaring out every nice thing you do, but I know it doesn't need to feel so self-conscious.

My life is much harder because of the uncertainty that goes along with my primary issues, so maybe I am extra drawn to things that are concrete right now, but I am certain about this:

Caring about people is good. Seeing needs, and finding ways that you can contribute to those needs, and acting on them is good.

No we can't solve everything and yes we might do some things without the best of motivations - we remain messy, complicated beings.

But that complication becomes simpler when you can see that every other person out there is a person, and that they matter, and should have the means for happiness within reach.

No messes can be cleaned up until we start acting based on that.

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