April 2018

Friday, August 8, 2014

Feeling Snarky

As I left my home yesterday morning, I locked the front door and descended the stairs to my poetry box, then began making my way to my 94 year-old neighbor Annabella's home so that we could wait together for Ann to pick us up for our trip to the Y. It was a lovely morning, bright but not yet hot, and I took in the flowers and the trees as I leaned on my cane and made my way down the sidewalk. In this moment of breathing in the morning's loveliness, a woman who I'd guess was in her late sixties hollered at me from across the street: "Did you have surgery on your knee?" She yelled in a neighborly way as her little dog sniffed the parking strip.

Startled from the morning's loveliness, I yelled back, "No," and if were feeling kinder I might have left it at that, but instead I continued,"…in my brain." This neighborly woman froze, looking a little startled, and I noticed that she continued to watch me as I walked on. As Annabella and I waited for Ann, we chatted about whether we'd gotten enough sleep, and the woman with the little dog, now on our side of the street, approached us. "I'm sorry…" she said. I waved her off and asked about her little dog.

I should have been the one to apologize, but I wasn't in the mood. I have carried in me these last two weeks frustration with the group I was assigned to do a project with in class. I wrote about this group a couple of weeks ago, but in case you don't remember, the essence was that I couldn't find my voice or my place in this group, and I wondered why. My theory at the time was that perhaps, as part of the e-generation, my group members just couldn't understand me, and I resolved to be as helpful as I could but to follow their lead and see what I might learn about how the e-generation plans and executes projects.

As I've participated and observed over the last two weeks, I have been kurfuffled (I think that's a Dr. Seuss word) again and again by how little I understood of their process. I predicted that when we presented to the class I would be impressed by how well it went and I would need to do some more thinking to see if I could learn from them.

I predicted incorrectly. The presentation was abysmal and might have received a C, certainly no better, in the high school classes I taught. Now my theory is that my classmates' plan had to do with their e-generation habits as well as the particularities of the individuals in this group. I wonder if the pace at which this generation moves leaves little time and space for reflection and for quality work. The goal was to "get 'er done" rather than to learn or explore or create community.

But this is not true of the e-generation as a whole. In fact, the presentation after ours was quite good, and I noticed in the easy banter after the presentation that the group members seem to have developed genuine connections with one another.

Before class, a friend who somehow intuited my frustration shared part of a poem with me that helped me re-center. The excerpt is from Jan Richardson's "Blessing in the Chaos":

Let what distracts you
Let what divides you
Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

The grace of the words and the sentiment steadied me and reminded me to return to the place in me that has compassion for others and also for myself. There is so much healing yet to do in my life: such grace that I have the time and space and support to do it.

    So much in me just wants to be heard. Like the poet Stephen Crane's man who says to the universe, I want to say, “Sir [ and ma'am], I exist!” but I don't want to hear back the universe's lack of interest. 
   I want to hear back that I matter. And you, dear readers, help me to see that this is so. That you for being here. Thank you for listening. 


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