|Photo by Paul Downey|
One is asking if my life was a board game, what it would be like. I just can't answer that without sounding like an asshole, so I won't. I have no specific memory of, or interest in, my favorite Christmas gifts, given or received, and you will NOT want to read my post on whether or not I am a romantic person or "more non-traditional." All of my responses to these posts will serve only to prove that something is terribly wrong with me.
Do you know how you feel when you are excited to be around people with a common interest and you're all getting warmed up to share about what you really think? Imagine this scene:
You are about to meet with a group of these other people, almost all of the same gender as yourself, to discuss and engage in the thing that you do that is closest to your heart-whatever that is. Acting. Gardening. Calligraphy. Whatever. Maybe it's something you don't get to share about a lot with other people because you don't happen to have many friends with that common interest. So, sharing your thoughts and your work here is going to be a blast. You arrive at the event in question slightly late, after the discussion has already just begun and slip quietly into a seat. You're so excited, having been looking forward to this as if it is the answer to some question you didn't even know to ask. This is going to be great.
And it begins with a get-to-know-you exercise. Someone addresses the room, "What is most important to you in life?" The first participant, an attractively dressed woman, quickly raises her hand and confidently says "Dental floss!" Everyone else nods in enthusiastic agreement.
Well, THAT is what life feels like when you are a misfit. You are always smiling and nodding while people talk about their personal (and strangely abusive sounding) relationship with Jesus and their deep love of nail polish and romantic comedies while you are wondering how quickly you can find a way to be in another room without being rude.
Mike Adams. He shares my inability to make small talk. The two of us together are the worst possible couple to have at a light social hour and the best two people to ruffle the feathers of a committee of church members on any subject. Our social interactions go like this:
Normal Person: (sweetly) "So how are you guys? How have you been?"
Me: "Well, at long last, I finally learned that I suffer from fibromyalgia so I've been exploring and writing on the nature of pain and how it defines our sense of self. Going through this illness and the process of trying to get a diagnosis and the effect that it's all had on my social ties; it's allowing me to reflect on the whole idea of compassion and see where it is that we stop practicing compassion, and the tremendous cost of that......Oh, and how are you?"
NP: "Fine....I guess. I've been...skiing. Tara, have you seen Dr. Dung? She's a great Oriental Medicine doctor?..."
Mike: "I think that what Tara's pointing to is the larger societal cost of our lack of compassion, by contrast to who we say we are. For instance, here at church, we begin every service with the statement, 'Whoever you are, wherever you are on your life's journey, you are welcome here.' But then, do we really live that? Are we actively welcoming people of different theological perspectives? People of limited means?"
NP: "Sounds...interesting. I think I left my....
Mike: "This country passed a law called 'No Child Left Behind' and yet we are leaving children behind all over the place. People in this country, on Indian reservations and other places as well, live in abject, third-world poverty. Why is this acceptable to us?"
NP: "It isn't."
Mike: "It IS."
And so on. This is why we have to be Unitarians. Sorry about blowing off the writing prompts.