Monday, September 17, 2007

Writers Read Here


Check out this new writing site, Writer's Island, it replaces in part Poetry Thursday which appears to be defunct. The prompt for tomorrow is: The Gift. Since my writing brain seems to have turned on, at least for today, I have posted my offering below.

The Gift

“She often saw things which other people missed—a fact which rather bemused her; that is why I have found my calling, she said to herself; I am called to help other people because I am lucky enough to be able to notice things.” (From The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, by Alexander McCall Smith).

I just finished reading the above book, the latest in a mystery series set in Botswana. It is an unusual series in that the mysteries themselves are largely irrelevant. What is important in each book is character and culture. What strikes one about the heroine, Mma Ramotswe, a detective, and the author, McCall Smith, is that both have an exceptional ability to notice the small things.
I think that I too have a gift like this. Although there are plenty of times I can be cheerfully oblivious to matters around me, there are other times when I can focus on the small details in a way that is very useful. Of course, I am not a detective, unless you consider me a detective of the small details that may move a person from sickness to health, from distrust to trust, or from aloneness to feeling understood.
My grandfather used to say I had “eagle eyes”. He didn’t so much refer to the quality of my vision but to my ability to find coins and other small treasures on the sidewalk or road as we walked together. Grandpa had a heart attack when he was in early 50’s and his physician told him to walk a mile a day. When I visited with him, I would often walk with him and he took great pride in occasionally finding money or an item of jewelry on the ground. He encouraged this ability in me and I suspect I have done him proud. The most likely reason I often walk with my eyes to the ground is that then I don’t have to make eye contact with strangers but whatever the cause I am still good at finding things on the ground.
This is not the same focus that lets me read people. Superstitions about psychiatrists to the contrary, I do not read minds. I do read body language. I try to read the things that are not said but are felt. I guess I am good at that but I imagine I will spend the rest of my life refining my ability to respond appropriately to what I see. Because, in fact, it is not so much what you notice that matters but what you do with the information and this distinction is very important in a healer.
Unfortunately, this “gift” is not always helpful. I noted in a post a few days ago, that I have been known to watch and judge other people when it is none of my business. I find that the capacity to observe is hard to turn off. It is a kind of hypervigilance to the human environment that is not always healthy for me. I might see that someone around me looks like they are up to no good and wonder what I should do about it. I might misread someone’s reaction to me and think they are bored or dislike me. I enjoy being alone, especially outside in nature where I don’t have to try to tune out all that unwanted information.
It is interesting that blessing and curse, gift or unfortunate trait are determined by circumstance and the use I put it to. Perhaps like in the fairy tale, the good fairies gifted me with their best wishes but one wicked and jealous fairy placed a curse as well. In the metaphoric sense, isn’t that true for us all?


Theresa said...

Reading people is a tough one, I always thought if someone didn't smile at me they didn't like me.

It is always amazing to hear what people thought of you before you became friends. One of my good friends in high school told me she was terrified of me in middle school-keep in mind I was voted shyest in hs (another wrong perception of me) so how terrifying could I have been?

One of my friends has a competition with her walking buddy how much money they can find in a year- I think she found $30 one year.

self taught artist said...

i feel like you do about everything you just the walks with grandpa stuff, reminds me of things in my life that has made me noticed things others do not.
ugh, and the judemental thoughts, no wonder nature is so soothing, who walks around judging a tree eh?

Redness said...

Nothing wrong with an eagle eye, sixth sense or being alert, it keeps us one step ahead of the masses. Love your post!

tumblewords said...

Nice post - I envy you for seeing the details - I'm not so good at that, which means I butterfly around, oftentimes missing the important...

keith hillman said...

Quite a gift! Thanks for sharing it with us

Becca said...

I'm fascinated with people, and love observing them and trying to decipher the deeper meaning and reason behind what they do.

I think it's a gift to be conscious of the small details of life.

gautami said...

This is very interesting.

I do have a gift to forsee things unconnected with me. Weird, isnt it?