“The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather what he does not say.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Looking Behind the Curtain
We all know the journey to Oz takes us to the Wizard, and then we see the Wizard is simply a man. Before we look behind that curtain we believe with Dorothy and her comrades that this Wizard is all powerful and beyond human. And then we find out he is like you and me, and our awe gets a reality check. We might feel a sense of betrayal.
Looking behind the curtain is something we all do, taking others inventory, finding where integrity is lapsed in others or within a community. There is a sense of betrayal when those we admire turn out to have all the faults we find everywhere else; or when a community, like yoga, reveals within in it all the makings of a soap opera.
But what I find now at the ripe age of 53 is that we are all full of light and shadow. I found the same lacking in the 12-step world where members stood tall with their program thinking they had an edge over “earth people” [non-members] because they had a program.
What I find is challenging is not the betrayal by a group or an individual.
That’s life. I think, like many, I stay on the edge of things. When I go to a party, though I talk easily, I feel uncomfortable and instead find comfort in books, pets and children. Their presence eases me.
I am drawn to the darkness of winter. I like long nights and short days. I prefer a bit of chill in the air. I prefer inside to outside. I write dark poems. I like drama when it comes to movies and tragedy invites me.
I don’t often get a sense of belonging.
In most groups, whether AA or yoga or even when I frequented writer’s workshops, I find maybe one person who I befriend and get to know and at times, walk away with a friend, for life.
So what I find challenging when looking behind the curtain is not what I see in others but what others show me about myself. I find it hard to draw back the curtain, the veil that holds together the tenuous idea of a “me” who has a self and plenty of stories to go with it and find what it is I cannot name in myself but so readily point out in others: a lacking of integrity maybe, dishonesty, self-absorption.
I reach out to many people, but it is always the few who reach back.
Friends are the family we choose, as the saying goes. Some of my friends really get me, give me that sense of understanding I think we all seek in others. Others show up when there’s something I can give them no one else can. Some people dance in and out of my life for no apparent reason. Some know me, but obviously don’t really want to know me beyond what circumstance demands.
And then I walk away hurt. I walk away feeling rejected and unloved. But if I look behind my curtain what I see is someone whose need to be needed is stronger than most. I find someone who strives to connect and is willing to take risks knowing the loss may only be mine. And someone who looks at others and draws a line of difference with judgment when I am feeling hurt without even knowing anyone else’s truth.
People come and go.
I looked at my 2010 timeline on Facebook and the faces change. Some people don’t even say why they go….though I know there’s a reason.
Maybe it is better to take the curtain and sew a cape so I can hide what I wonder others see…. Maybe if I did, more people would reach back and fewer would walk away from me.
I am a full time yoga teacher, trained at City Fitness in Washington, DC and Willow Street Yoga Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. I have been writing poetry since I was nine years old. Poetry is my first love and yoga continues to feed my heart. I write because I love it. I teach because I love it. I tell my students all the time: do it because you can. That works for me. I believe in creating opportunity. I believe in helping my self and others. I think faith is the most important gift of life, because when we lose everything else we still have that in our heart. I believe the natural state of being is happiness, or bliss, or Ananda. Life is a celebration. Poetry and yoga help me celebrate. Check out my website and blog here.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
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