Monday, September 11, 2006

The Same Differences

When I was young, I wished to be the same. I yearned for it. It meant comfort and belonging. Part was the human need for understanding. I was sure that being the same came without strings, pains, or problems. I was young, callow, and idealistic. Shallow with good intentions. So young.

I tried to learn how to do it. I studied how people thought and what they did. I could do anything. I could do that. I knew I could. I watched. I listened. I tried. I adjusted. I tried again. Like a child in dress-up clothes, playing so seriously, I imagined people would see the image I wanted them to see.

What they saw was a picture that wasn’t right, that didn’t work. Like that child in dress-up clothes, I was doing the same things, but not knowing why. I was the wrong kind of living doll − an inexperienced, badly costumed actor − overstated, overdressed, with no understanding for the part I chose. I didn’t mean to fool or confuse them, or me. I probably tried too hard to please them at my own expense.

I thought if I fixed my differences, life would make sense and the pieces would finally fit. I would fit. I could see it so clearly. The world would make sense. I would have a rightful part in it.

The real dancing could begin, because . . . then everyone would see who I really am − if only I would change to be like just like them.

I was trying to be invisibly visible. I succeeded. I was an oxymoron. I looked so closely that I couldn’t see. I tried so hard to be like them, so that I wouldn’t have to try so hard to be who I am.

The irony in those musical words dances across my face and through my ears.

If only I’d been looking. at the context − the one that didn’t have me as the center of the universe − I might have noticed everyone trying as hard as I was. I might have seen that those folks, those folks I thought looked so much the same as each other, are individuals with wonderful distinct, dynamic differences worth getting to know.

The differences are what make us the same.
−me strauss Letting me be

8 comments:

Robert Bruce said...

Oh man, you brought me back with this one Liz. So much time wasted and yet, not so wasted.

And of course now, as adults, the game is so much more complicated yet, not so complicated.

Funny thing is, the mask was always transparent. And still is.

ME Strauss said...

Hello Robert,
We're all same people still aren't we? The thoughts have changed in such small ways. They still seem like me only newer, not older. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I expect to see the same face. What a surprise when instead I see the face of my mother . . .

Dawn said...

Liz, your post reminds me of something I read over the weekend. It starts out with the author giving a seminar to a group he calls a room full of Jim's. Later, he meets a wise woman named Agnes who gives him some good advice: you have to be 2 things - fascinated by the life of every person you meet, and grateful for who they are and what they do.
That's when - it seems to me - the real dancing can begin and those dynamic differences energize us.

I wish I knew that when I was in high school . . .

ME Strauss said...

Hi Dawn,
Yes, every minute I think about this I think how much I've always liked the people who knew how to ask questions and how afraid I was to do so, thinking that folks would tell what they wanted me to know. I didn't realize how that might have seemed to them. . . .

Trée said...

Liz, if someone wants to know who I am, I should just tell them to read your blog. I feel like you know me from the inside out or that we have lived parallel lives.

ME Strauss said...

Trée,
I think that's the kindest compliment. It must come from the tea and cookies we've shared so many nights . . . What a lovely thing to think that we're alike. It gives me hope to think about that.

Anonymous said...

a so beautiful poetic text!...


cristina

ME Strauss said...

Thank you, Christina.
I tried to say something last night, but Blogger just wouldn't cooperate.

This one was special to me too. :)