This has been a great day filled with interesting conversations and fun experiences. MBE and I walked along the ocean shore, stood on rocky outcroppings as waves broke around us, and visited with one of my college professors.
We discussed at length the intersecting roles and beliefs of science and spirituality.
The movie is a fictionalized account of the story of a dolphin, Winter, who lost her tail in a crab trap. She learned to swim without a tail and then a prosthetic tail was created for her.
The moment in the film that really got to me was when a little girl who was missing a leg looked at the tail-less dolphin and said, “Mommy, she’s just like me.”
I’ve always had an inkling that we’re each waiting for someone to recognize us for who we really are so that we can feel less alone. That moment in the movie brought it so clearly into focus for me – all the little black girls who are thrilled to have a Muppet on Sesame Street singing about her hair. All the Oriental teenagers who have singing and dancing role models on Glee. All the gay teenagers who finally have a voice of hope with the It Gets Better project.
In the last few days I’ve spoken with several people who have been argumentative and difficult, wanting me to make right situations that had nothing to do with me. It finally occurred to me yesterday that what those people really wanted was something far more basic – they just wanted to be heard and seen. They hadn’t felt heard and seen in the past by people in my position, so they would use me as the surrogate.
It’s not really so different from that little girl who took comfort in seeing a dolphin who looked a bit like her. We all want to feel a little less alone. In my workshops and in my own life, I’ve come to really understand none of us is ever alone in our experience. There is ALWAYS someone who can empathize, sympathize, and understand. But we have to be willing to make ourselves vulnerable enough to reach out and seek the connection.
So when someone shows up to me as argumentative and difficult, I am now going to make an effort to listen for what’s underneath the words. Are they asking to be seen and heard? If so, it’s probably possible for me to give that to them. Which makes two less people who are starving for connection.