Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I had a lovely conversation with a guy last night. At the end of the conversation he said to me, "Thanks for calling, I really enjoyed our conversation." Now that may not seem like a big deal but given the newness of our connection, his obvious enthusiasm about our time on the phone was really quite nice to hear. I hate to admit it but, I felt kinda awkward about responding. I didn't really know what to say. And then it hit me: for all my efforts to grow and change, my repertoire (of responses to such unexpected kindnesses) is still limited. My childhood experience of unexpected kindness being what it is, sweetness of this kind from someone close to me is a surprise. And yet, with my mother in hospital, I find myself touching and kissing her, offering kindness to her in ways that would not have occurred had she still been at home, in ways that she didn't during my formative years.

Growing is a terribly slow process. Sometimes it takes a crisis to cause the seed coat to burst and new life to spring out or some great deluge of emotion to bring the walls we build around ourselves crashing down. So here I am: the crisis has occurred, the deluge has come and I find myself kissing the woman who only kissed when we were boarding planes; and touching the woman who rarely touched; comforting and quieting the anxieties of the person who pooh-poohed my childish fears.

It's sad that it takes crisis to broaden our emotional repertoire, but does it matter really why it happens or that it happens? I'm going with 'that it happens'. My uninformed guess is that 'that it happens' trumps the 'why it happens' every day. It seems to me that whether you accept yourself and others at age 2 or 2 minutes before you take your last gasping breath, all that matters is that it happens and healing can occur.

So my repertoire is growing. Given that it's still new repertoire (to continue the music metaphor for a moment), sometimes I perform it well, sometimes not so well. Sometimes, the notes sail forth easily, other times, *croak, croak*! The skills are still being learned and honed and are therefore frequently unreliable in their application. That's OK too. As my choir director used to say, "It's not practice that makes perfect, it's perfect practice that makes perfect". So here's to perfect practice of my new emotional repertoire of touching and kissing and saying "God loves you and so do I" with my mother, for many, many days, weeks, months maybe even years, to come. And here's to trying it out with others as well.

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