Don’t worry — just look at me
Not a perfect picture. HT would have gotten it into better focus. JM would have cleaned out the birdbath, and added more water before taking a photo. I’m reminded of shoddy workmanship, my first ever Medium post. But never mind all that, look at the sparrows! I sound like my grandmother, apologizing about the food as she puts it on the table.
Last night I extracted a few lines from a longer poem by an obscure poet, which, in my opinion, was a bit gluey and overstated. Before I threw out the bathwater, I found this baby floating in the muck.
“Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all.”
My therapist was kind of a mess yesterday. I mean, a mess for her. I mean a relative mess. She keeps it together, even when she’s upset, but I get a peek at the human behind the curtain. She wasn’t in her office when I arrived. She came hurrying in and cleared off her desk, zipped up her big purse, and shut her laptop. She looked flustered.
I began to tell her about myself. A car alarm kept going off right outside the window. She said something about it, looking distraught. It appeared to bother her way more than it did me. I could ignore the noise. I was happy there, with her. Like a child who doesn’t care about anything but the presence of the parent. Don’t worry — just look at me.
Then, as I was describing a painful incident, my therapist’s cell phone launched into a jazzy song. I put my narrative on pause while she got up and fiddled with the phone until she was able to turn off the sound. She unzipped her purse again, and buried the offender deep inside.
“I keep missing my text messages,” she explained, “so this morning I finally figured out how to add sounds to them.” I’m thinking, a song? What about a little beep? She struggles with technology. Back in her chair, she looked at me sadly.
I said, “It’s ok,” and went on with my tale. Her agenda for the session was to talk about safety. That took up more than half of my precious time. I didn’t like it, but oh well. I lean on her hard, but sometimes I have to stop leaning and take care of her. I feel like an adult when that happens. I can go into full caretaker mode for short bursts, when necessary.
It was during this messy session that my therapist let me know she has accepted Bob into the room. My imaginary friend now has an acknowledged seat! Not a comfortable one, true, but he doesn’t care. He’s happy to be included. I’m thinking of a Jewish tradition — an empty seat at the Seder table, for Elijah. Bob and Elijah could be cousins for all I know.
Like the original meaning of shoddy, my writing is mostly recycled wool, shredded, and woven into new cloth. Every shred reminds me of something else. Oh look, there’s a bit of the lavender hat my mother wore to her wedding! I have to prune away a lot of fruitless vines. I try to wrestle my stories into a semblance of order, with comprehensible connections, and a clear theme. This particular ramble was about finding value in less than perfect efforts, good lines in a goopy poem, progress during a messy therapy session, peace in the tiger’s mouth. A writer should not have to tell you what the theme is, but that’s shoddy workmanship for you.