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!
I’ll just come right out and say it as clear as I can.
I’m deaf and blind.
I was told, “Jeanna’,don’t be blinded.” because I disagreed with several women in a post about knowing the heart of another person.
Well, when well-meaning, holy rollers start quoting scripture and verse, claiming to know what the “real truth” is then I’m going to pull on my boots, walk away and let them think they had the last word.
But the truth is, I’m really just choosing to be deaf and blind.
Blind to the self-righteous accusations and finger-pointing. Blind to the veiled questions,the double standards,the hypocrisy that I see all too often.
I’m going to be deaf-really deaf to the words that slander and tear apart people, to the gossip disguised as prayers, to the nay-sayers that are so quick to point out another’s wrongs while sugar coating their own.
Lord, have mercy, I believe in those words written in red, especially those that command very clearly to “love one another as I have loved you.” and all those about how God created heaven and earth and all that is within it.
I can’t quote scripture by chapter and verse and I’m impressed but not intimidated by those that can. You see, God gives each of us different gifts- some get the gift of memorizing and others get the gift of touch, some people get the gift of vision and others the gift of understanding and so on and on.
Back before Christmas, I was listening to this preacher man and he pulled up this verse and i decided right then and there that verse was going to be my verse.
It’s Luke 2:19…and here it goes.
“Mary held these things in her heart and thought about them often.”
Well, there you go- clear and simple. “Held these things in her heart.”
That tells me that we can hold things in our hearts-without broadcasting on social media,without tattle-telling, without making a big scene and pushing our beliefs on others.
We can hold what really matters in our hearts and think about it often. We can hold the things we wrestle with and the things we pray about in our hearts. We can hold it, think about it and know that God in the heavens knows our hearts far better than we do.
We can choose to love more, to find the goodness in people, to seek out the beauty and radiance and to be deaf and blind to anything that takes away from that.
I can’t claim, like those women did, to know the heart of anyone else. While they claimed that the woman they were jumping on didn’t KNOW God, all I could think was this- “God knows HER” and that’s the bottom line, only God knows what each of us holds in our hearts, only God knows how much we love,who we love and how we feel and that’s good enough for me.
I will hold these things in my heart, and write the words that come tumbling out and I know that I may be accused of being blind and deaf but I sure won’t be accused of not loving and in the end that’s all that’s necessary.
So I’ll leave you with a song that came to mind…take it away…..
“Our body is our soul’s best friend.”-Paulo Coelho.
When I read these words, I immediately drew a heart in the margins next to the words and jotted down my thoughts.
There is such profound truth held in these simple words and just yesterday, a friend and I shared some thoughts about this.
I had been invited to an event and instinctively, as I read about the event and what to do and bring, my stomach began to tighten and my stance changed. I felt my body instinctively go into a protective mode- ready to “flee or fight.”
I tried to talk myself into accepting the invitation, but then realized that my body was truly my best friend and the reaction I was feeling was my body whispering to me.
My body knows when and how to protect my soul and I have learned to pay attention, to listen and to honor my body and my soul.
While I knew the opportunity to network and mingle would boost my business, I also know that I’m much better at small, intimate gatherings than at large social functions.
My deafness is actually a gift in many ways because I tend to place myself only in situations and with people in which I know I’ll be able to have some measure of control and to understand, to connect, to feel my best and be the best version of myself.
Now that I have the AVA -Audio Visual Accessibility-app I don’t worry about not hearing things like I used to. AVA doesn’t just give me the words that people say. it also gives me insight into others and to the relationships I have.
Many of my friends keep AVA installed and ready to use…but I’ve also ran into people that have told me that AVA is “too much trouble” and those that have made it perfectly clear that they would rather I didn’t use AVA.
When I go someplace, i consider the lightening.the ambiance, and the acoustics…I think about how I’ll stand,where I’ll sit, and who I’ll seek out and I also make sure AVA will work wherever I’m at.
In many ways, being hearing impaired makes me more aware of my body and others. Since I can’t depend on what I hear, I depend on what I feel.
That’s the way I use my body to benefit my soul, to make sure I get the best chance and give the best I can to every situation.
That means listening to that small whisper from my body way before it becomes a moan of despair or scream of frustration and anger.
So I put aside this invitation and instead accepted better ones..an invitation to go out for a walk, to sit at a table for two with a bottle of wine, to listen to music and dance and go out on a treasure hunt.
Those are the invitations that my body craves and my soul responses to with an excited “YES!”
I also believe that when we touch someone’s body, we reach their soul and that’s why,as a massage therapist, my touch is so mindful, compassionate and intuitive.
I want to always touch the body with knowledge of how far I am reaching…into a person’s soul..through muscles that hold memories, through skin that covers wounds and shows scars. I know that it’s never “just” a massage, but it’s a gift of trust,a step of faith when someone gets on my table.
At least that’s how I see it and how I treat it.
I hold another quote close to my heart. This one is also simple and profound.
“Only those that love your naked soul,should touch your naked body.”
In a time where people dive in and out of physical relationships without giving a second thought to how the soul feels about it, there is a sacred intimacy in the relationship that honors the soul first and the body knows it.
That’s why I’m taking care of my body- by listening to the way it lets me know who can touch me and who can’t.
But I also listened to another clear message..the one telling me who I shouldn’t touch.
Recently I’ve came to understand that I can say “no” to touching some people, that if a person makes me feel uncomfortable, I do not have to allow them into my space, or on my table. I don’t have to accept everyone as a client just because they book a session with me.
This has not been easy, though. I had wrestled with the rationalization but the way I felt about approaching sessions was too strong to push aside.
I chose to do what my friend told me to do. I trusted my guts; embraced my strengths and worked around my weakness and felt my soul dance inside my body…you know, like best friends do when they are finally together, again.