How much greater is the miracle that Mr. Thoreau was referring to when one considers that, during the instant of looking through someone else’s eyes, we are not looking through our own? The miracle is getting a break from ourselves — something we all need — some more than others. Believe me, the people around me would love to have a break from me, too.
Marti does this well. She’s always looking through the eyes of others. Me, I am more likely to epitomize the Bette Midler line from the movie, Beaches, “But enough about me; let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”
Accordingly, Marti says I have a tendency to fill up a room — and most conversations — with myself. At least that’s what she says. I wouldn’t know because I’m so comfortable talking about me that I don’t notice we’re not talking about anyone else. It seems quite natural, true and right to be talking and thinking about me. It’s what I do. If I’m thinking about me, I’m sure you must be too.
Now I could say this is just one of the curses of being a performer (I’m writing this for my benefit, now), but that would be a cop-out. I can get out of myself just as easily as the next guy; the question is, Do I want to?
It’s like a friend of mine (who, incidentally, happens to be a performer, too), said in a hospital room when his wife, who was in labor, complained about being too cold, “Why? I’m not cold.”
Actually, it’s not the curse of being a performer, it’s the curse of being me. But there I go again, talking about me.
Lately, my neighbor has been giving me a run for my money. She’s the one who fell recently and has been requiring our assistance much more than usual. She’s a spinster who has lived by herself for 84 years; you can imagine she’s pretty used to her own company. Though she is known and appreciated in our town for years of selfless service in the community, at home, she’s pretty set in her ways.
Which explains the ridiculousness of us butting heads two days ago over the proper use of the remotes for her TV. She has a system that requires her to use both remotes every time she wants to turn her television on or off. Well, I thought I would simplify her life by showing her there was a way to set it up so she only needed one. Problem is, when I tried to show her this, she started insisting, very stubbornly, that she needed two. Suddenly, we lost the point of which way was easier, and it became an issue of who was right. That’s when I should have backed off and looked through her eyes, if only for an instant, and realized I was doing her a big disservice by insisting on being right. So I win this argument. By the next morning, when she wants to watch “Good Morning America,” she’ll probably be so disoriented over her remote controls that she won’t be able to turn her TV on at all.
As it turned out, I won the argument and felt awful. Her life is much simpler at this stage doing what she knows how to do, even if it takes an extra step. Had I looked through her eyes I would have understood that, and understood her better.
This is a small issue, but a big point. It takes a relationship to introduce the Gospel of Welcome, but I can’t have a relationship if I insist on being right all the time and looking only through my own eyes.