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People are complicated. They are never exactly what you first believe and they are almost always carrying a weight that you know nothing about. We tend to see in other people that which they choose for us to see. We see the traits they themselves deem worthy of our consideration.

 

For example, if a woman has been sorely rejected, she can eventually become strong. Or, at least she can learn how to appear strong to others. Because, you see, if someone has been hurt in her weakness, she learns strength as a contrasting force. It’s possible, therefore, that the strong woman is weak but hiding her weakness behind an edifice of strength.

 

I am not at all insinuating that all people walk about the earth pretending to be something, or things, they are not. I am, however, stating that we are often wrong in our first impressions: of others and often of ourselves.

 

There are two women outside my family whom I would say are my “best friends.” Both these women have proven their ability to see the truth in others and not to assign the name of stock characters to other people based on their most intriguing or interesting actions. These women have seen me at my worst and instead of labeling me they both have taken my story and my heartache in stride, held my hand and said to me, “That may be what you have done but it isn’t who you are.” And what I have learned, from the unconditional love of family, friends and God is this: every action has a reason. Every action you see was born first in the mind. And every mind is a mixture of experience and education and the emotions they conjure. Nature and nurture.

 

This mixture is a stew made of the ingredients of living on this earth: we drink our own mixture and we drink the mixture of those in whom we invest our time. The result is that we see the world as we do and we assign meaning to people, events, emotions and gestures according to how we see the world. With this in mind, I am amazed that we can ever find moments of true connection, communication, laughter, poignancy, love or understanding. We are like the men and women living at the base of the Tower of Babel, and yet . . .

 

We do connect. We do possess within ourselves a common thread of unseen humanity, which allows us to discern one another beyond mere words. We use words but words are incomplete . . . why must we rely on these constructs of letters, sentences and paragraphs and why must they fail us so often?

 

We Walked Through Snow And Ice, by Jill Szoo Wilson

 

We walked along in the snow and ice

And you wanted to hold my hand.

I thought you wanted to show yourself strong

But you were losing your footing, too,

And needed my steadiness to help you along.

I refused you because I did not need your help—

I did not fear a fall—

And then you fell all on your own.

I wondered

If I could have helped.

 

We walked along a sandy shore

And you wanted to hold an umbrella up to the sun.

I thought you worried my skin would burn

But yours was turning red

And you forgot your hat and needed the cover,

I refused you because I did not need your help—

My skin is olive in tone—

And then your skin turned hot.

I wondered

If I should have helped.

 

We walked along in wind and rain

And you wanted to lead me into shelter.

I thought you wanted to hold me close

But beads of sweat gathered around your head

And fever took your strength and made you ill.

I refused you because I did not need your help—

For me, the rain is a thrill—

And then you lay for days in your bed.

I wondered

Why I did not help.

 

We walked along inside my dreams

And you wanted to plot out the way.

I thought you wanted to boast in your sense of direction

But the path grew long and the sun turned to night

So we lost one another under the stars.

I refused your course because I did not need your help—

For me, wondering without plan is adventure—

But then I lost you and you were gone.

I wondered

If I should have let you lead.

 

We walked away: I went this way, you went that

And you did not turn to watch me go.

I thought you wanted to stay

But the distance grew wide

And the time grew long.

I refused to feel because I could not feel it all—

My heart was broken in your hands—

But when I felt it all at once

I turned

And you were gone.

 

Copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

 

(Photo credit: Charles Moman.  Krakow, Poland, 2015)

 

 

 

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