A friend recently texted me an image from a Hallowe’en party.
Let’s just say that he was barely recognisable from another image that I held, an image of him as a compassionate witness to my own story.
I was first startled by the mis-match and then, on reflection, amused. Amused by the way we can model our first, second, third impressions of people to fit in with our own stories. And then we are surprised when they don’t follow our script.
I think that’s true of how we regard ourselves, too. Each day, a different story, a different fantasy, a different self.
Each moment an editing of the play-script of a life.
The following poem I wrote in February 2006, in response to feelings of low self-esteem. A sense of “ugliness” and lack of grace that I was experiencing at the time – and have felt, on and off, for all of my life.
There’s also the hint of the presence of a wiser version of me, waiting (“in the wings”, maybe like a guardian angel).
Watching while the ugly clown goes through her painful performance. Not trying to rescue the clumsy child as she re-enacts her awkwardness and bravado. Accepting the coarseness and the sense of shame that accompanies the performance.
And then welcoming the child into the place of acceptance; welcoming the one seen into the place of seeing; welcoming the “Kind” (German for “child”) into the wings of the Stage of LovingKindness, where “the play can begin”.
Waiting in the wings
You’re waiting in the wings,
While I take centre stage.
You’re waiting, waiting, contemplating, while
I attend my act, reacting
To the brash applause.
I strut, I stamp, I gesture.
The audience grows coarse
With laughter unbecoming.
I clown, then down I fall,
And all is hollow.
I sit astride a chair. I ponder,
And yonder (not so far away)
You’re watching, waiting,
Not scolded –
Not reproached, but coached
By this your silence –
I resolve to wait,
To entertain a watching state,
Relate a story more of quiet
Than riot; and breathing deep
To stand beside you in the wings.
We wait. We meditate.
The stage is empty.
The play can begin.
© Kathy McVittie 13 Feb 2006