Beautiful night tonight and I’ve been cooped up inside for two whole days. The old friend who used to always blew me off and with whom I was to reconnect tonight (golly gosh) blew me off so I hopped in Molly Moonroof, grabbed a Diane special at The Pizza Place (run by @Pam Witte and @Thea Johnson) and took a drive down Country Club Road.
I have this great iPod player now in Molly the Subaru and it’s like I just discovered the ‘mix’ option on my iPod. Very interesting listening to ‘my music’. Besides really getting that I mostly listen to stuff that’s really really old, I was also noticing some similarities in those songs that I listened to so much in my youth that they wore grooves in my brain.
Joni Mitchell: “Will you take me as I am? Will you? Will you take me as I am….?”
Roy Orbison: “to you I’m just a friend, that’s all I’ve ever been, no you don’t know me…”
Joni again: “They open and close you. Then they talk like they know you. They don’t know you….”
I’m sure there’s more but those three played on my iPod tonight and I was thinking how they resonated with me so strongly in my 20s. I don’t think my hunger to be known is as all-consuming now as it was when young, but I was reflecting on how we ALL want to be seen, want to be known regardless of our age or our acclaim (Joni was singing ‘will you take me as I am’ when she was a pretty hot commodity after all).
I was so thrilled when my friend Sue B. sent me an email today telling me in detail why she liked my Lazarus poem. Was it my “insatiable ego” as my former acquaintance charged? I think more it was “ah! You saw me!” — that sense of being accepted – of “will you take me as I am?” – Simply, being seen.
Maybe because that’s always been a big deal to me I try to make a point of seeing others and signaling that I see them. Telling the clerk in the checkout line at the grocery “wow, your hair looks really nice” or acknowledging to a co-worker, “Hey man, you really cranked today.”
I’m realizing I need to do more of what Sue B. did. Not just tell my friend @Melissa Ross, the SUPERB photographer that I loved her recent photos –but which ones I like best and why I liked them.
John Prine: “You’ve got gold. Gold inside of you. I’ve got some gold, gold inside me, too.”
I guess that’s why ‘the cold shoulder’ or being ignored –having one’s communications unanswered, feels so hurtful. We all make what John Gottman calls “bids for connection” – some of us overtly and in our arm-flailing, exclamation point using ways, some much more subtly. Some, no doubt, so subtly that they go unseen. We’re trying to share our gold. Did you see it? Did you see me? “Mommy! Watch me!”
But when one has made an explicit ‘bid for connection’ which has gone unanswered – ouch. Feels like a double ouch in a way – I don’t matter enough for you to respond to me. And my communication didn’t matter to you either.
John Prine: “How the hell can a person. Go to work in the morning. Come home in the evening
And have nothing to say.”
To quote Walt Whitman from another favorite of my youth (entire poem pasted in below for your reading pleasure): “I know I am restless and make others so.” Yeah, I know I ‘over-communicate.’
We all communicate though. Constantly. One of the things I took away from “Freakonomics” was the concept of ‘signaling’. I signal that I’m gay by how I dress. You signal that you’re really an actor, not a corporate wonk by the analogies you use rather than corporate speak. He signals that he’s interested in you by how he fidgets when you’re around. We’re all signaling constantly. And communicating. And saying “Mommy! Look at me!”
I just hope I do a better job of saying “Good job!” and “Yes, I see you!” when you turn my way. Because I’m so aware of what it feels like when that doesn’t happen. Part of a poem I wrote recently said
“If words upon words are unspoken
would that have extinguished the flame?”
Reflecting since I wrote those words a month or so ago – I think the answer is ultimately yes. We knock and knock and eventually pull our coat round us tight, sigh, look downward and skulk away.
So if you “make a bid for connection” and I don’t respond in ways that make you feel seen, tell me.
And if I’m just way off the mark and being seen or acknowledged is truly the LAST thing you’d like, tell me how that is for you (and I suspect you introverts like to be seen in different ways than us extroverts – so tell us how).
What happens in YOUR life that makes you feel that the answer to Joni’s question is “Yup!” — “will you take me as I am? Will you?”
I’m interested in what you have to say. This has been much on my mind these past many months. Speak your piece!
And now, I’ll let Walt speak his. If you get nothing else from me today, just soak in this beautiful poem that still cracks open my heart:
As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado
by Walt Whitman
As I lay with my head in your lap camerado,
The confession I made I resume, what I said to you and the open air
I know I am restless and make others so,
I know my words are weapons full of danger, full of death,
For I confront peace, security, and all the settled laws, to
I am more resolute because all have denied me than I could ever have
been had all accepted me,
I heed not and have never heeded either experience, cautions,
majorities, nor ridicule,
And the threat of what is call’d hell is little or nothing to me,
And the lure of what is call’d heaven is little or nothing to me;
Dear camerado! I confess I have urged you onward with me, and still
urge you, without the least idea what is our destination,
Or whether we shall be victorious, or utterly quell’d and defeated.