Friday, May 21, 2010

Invisible People

I used to be invisible.


I would go out into the wide world – to the store, to a restaurant, to a party, to church. And no one would notice me.

Or if they did notice, it was a perfunctory acknowledgement that demonstrated no real interest.

I’m not sure when that changed.

I know it has. I can go anywhere, in any kind of a situation, and have true encounters with other people.

Other people did not change. I did.

I used to exude vibrations of my own unworthiness. Don’t notice me, I’m too boring. Or I’m too fat. Or I’m too lonely. Or too old.

Sometimes I would pretend that I was practicing observation. After all, a writer must notice everything. I used to sit alone in restaurants and write snatches of overheard conversations in a little notebook. I was simply recording the human condition. Someday the results of all my scrutiny would wind up in a brilliant book and people would marvel at my wisdom.

Didn’t she go to our school? Wasn’t she a member of our church? Didn’t she come here for lunch?

Another part of me – the part that probably kept me going – thought I was a tad superior -- too creative, too deep, too individual – whatever – to partake of shallow social intercourse.

Truth is, I’m neither superior nor inferior. I’m not too boring, or too fat, or too lonely, or too old. I am all the places I have been and all the people I have learned from.

And eventually, I figured out that that was enough.

And that if I really looked at other people, really paid attention to their stories, really looked at whatever I could see of who they were, they would reciprocate.

That is, of course, a simplistic statement. Almost naive. But it is as far as I’m going to go in this particular blog post. For one thing, I have the flu. For another, the story of how I came to overcome my sense of unworthiness took me more than 67,000 words in a memoir I called Tree Lines. But I think I can recount some of it in future blog posts. I think that might be a very good idea because there are thousands, perhaps millions, of people trapped in their own sense of unworthiness.

Far too many invisible people.

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