I hear it all the time, ” You don’t look your age,” and I have always just smiled and took it for a compliment but yesterday I got to thinking .. and I realized something about what that meant.
This is what it looks like.
There ya go. That is it. Isn’t this something that stops us in our tracks .. keeps us from doing what we want … those words…. “what it looks like” holds us captive, doesn’t it?
I know so good and well what those words do to people and to me.
“This is what it looks like.”
As a woman with a severe hearing loss, I have to be careful -all the time- that I don’t stand too close to someone and give the wrong impression.. because of “what it looks like” to others that may not realize that I am trying to read lips. Sometimes when I am with those that know me well, I forget to be mindful of “what it looks like” to those outside my tribe untill I see that all-too-familiar look in their eyes that gives away the thoughts that crosses their mind over and over again.. “what does this look like,what will people think?”
So I back off a few steps and I tuck my hands in my pockets or cross my arms, to hold back my natural tendency to touch as I speak and lay my hands on someone while I’m listening.
After all, I get it, really, I do.
We live in a culture that is so visual, so hooked so social norms, on fitting into perfect places and leaving nothing to chance, to be open to interpretation.
It is so much easier when things look like we think they should… even when they aren’t.
A good example happened to me again today. While checking out at Target, I walked out without one of my sacks and loaded my car. This young guy came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I was calling for you, ma’am, you left this.” and when I smiled and thanked him and explained that I couldn’t hear him unless he was close enough to touch.. he said something I hear all the time. “That”s okay,but, you don’t look like you have a hearing problem.”
I don’t, do I?
After all, what does someone with a hearing problem look like? Would a hearing aid give me away or maybe a cochlear implant? Would it be helpful if the deaf and hearing impaired worn bracelets like the yellow LIVESTRONG or the pink Breast Cancer bracelets? Maybe a little dog-tag on a chain hanging from our necks so that somone will see that and immediately know, “There is one of those deaf people.”
That is what it looks like, after all.
But things are not always what they look like.
That couple you see comparing wines at the grocery store may very well just be strangers sharing a few minutes of laughter and a common ground before parting ways to never cross paths again.
But then again, they may be business associates planning The next event.
The older lady sitting alone at the cafe lost in thought may have just lost her husband and that is why she didn’t respond like she usually does. She isn’t hard of hearing no matter what it looks like. She hears just fine, thank you very much, but she just wasn’t in the mood to chit-chat just yet. That exhausted man at the park with the talkative toddler isn’t a divorced dad putting in his mid-week visitation. He wishes it was that simple, but it’s not. The truth is, he’s been balancing his job, his daughter and a bed-ridden wife for several months now.
But that isn’t what it looks like.
Back to this all over again. If we are always so concernd about what it looks like instead of what we KNOW and what we feel then we are falling into that very same trap that holds so many back and afraid of stirring the proverbial pot.
I wonder, though, if we stopped thinking so hard about what it looks like and instead just decided to take each situation, each encounter with an open mind and a heart that dares to see beyond what it looks like and to see what it really is and what it could be.
Maybe, we would stand closer and touch more often. Maybe we would lean forward without second guessing what the people two tables over will think. Maybe we would strike up a conversation with that guy looking for wine without thinking that it will be inappropiate. Maybe we would hold hands.. maybe we would ask someone if they would like to have lunch or see if they would like to walk to the square for a drink. Maybe we would get up and dance. Maybe we would stop by and see an old friend again without wondering what it would look like to someone else. Maybe we would regret less and live more.
There aren’t really any easy answers to this and I knew that before I started writing my heart out but I know this much for sure- things are not always what they look like and there is always so much more to know, to discover, to learn.
But this is what it looks like. …..and, yes, I really am this age…this is what it looks like to be this age… when you are me, anyway!