Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.
It’s Monday again time for Coffee and Conversation.
When I was six, my familywas driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own…
A few years ago, there was a commercial a lot of people might identify with. It showed a series of routine activities being performed by – well, no one, apparently.
As our world becomes more technologically advanced, it seems that everything can be seen instantly, and that all of life has become transparent. But there’s something else that happens – we get so used to some things, that the process which creates them can be invisible.
A bag of corn chips, for instance, seems simple enough- but the corn and other ingredients were grown, and harvested, and brought to a factory for processing, and packaged, and shipped to the store, and stocked, and sold, and possibly inventoried – and it’s not likely that we’re thinking about all that while we’re pulling a chip out of that bag and putting it in our mouths.
Maybe we’re like that, too. I think every life has its invisible places; the deeper currents that run beneath the surface. And it’s in these places that the richest life, the most vital stories, lie.
In my own life, I can see it clearly, because, well, I’m living it! But to others, who live differently, and have their own deeper currents, sometimes the surface is all that can be seen.
We homeschool without curriculum. By its very nature, much of what our children learn is beneath the surface, their own concern more than mine. Still, I live in a state that requires me to report on their progress five times each year.
So, I find myself paying attention to what lies beneath; when we talk, how they play, what they read and watch, enjoy or dislike. I’ve become more aware of how learning works, not only for them, but for myself, as well.
Recently, my daughter brought me a children’s dictionary. Her reading has improved markedly over the last few months, and she’d been through stacks of books over the few days before that.
“Mom, let me read to you about wallabies!”
Then, in far less time than a single school lesson would take, we explored the cellular structure of a leaf, guide words and alphabetization, and other words and images that interested her.
It might have been invisible. There was no lesson plan; no homework, worksheet, test score to prove that she knows what to do with a dictionary. She explored the book because it interested her; then brought it to share with me, because she likes sharing cool things she’s discovered with people she loves.
She knows she can use a dictionary because, well, she used one. I know she can, because I saw her. Time and experience will help her to use it better, should she want to.
If I didn’t put it on the report, or write about it here, no one outside our home might know that she had any idea at all what a dictionary is, or what to do with it.
Writing is like that, too. I am currently moving through a major revision of one of my novels. I know that the work will be all but invisible, to those who read the book when it’s done. All the effort I’ve put in – reading and learning, writing, rereading, making notes, planning backstory and character arcs and subplots – none of that is going to announce itself in the finished product. I will likely have invested hundreds of hours in these invisible steps, before I hit “Publish” and commit the book to the wild blue yonder where readers live – readers who may be invisible to me, too.
Considering the parts of my life that can be invisible from the outside helps me to see that we’re all invisible, in some way. Judging one another based only on the surfaces of their lives that we can see is as unrealistic as assuming that those corn chips just appeared on the store shelves, whole and effortlessly.
We’re all invisible, in our own ways. But we can shed light on some of those places – by sharing some of our deeper, hidden lives, and by understanding that everyone else has their own version of those places, and, whether we see them or not, they are there.
We can never know all of another’s soul – but we can be open and respectful of each other, and those invisible depths they carry within them, in everything they do.
How about you? Do you ever feel you are invisible? Are there parts of your life do you feel no one can see? Parts you don’t want to share, because they are deeply personal. Pull up a seat, and I’ll pour you a fully visible cuppa, and let’s converse. I want to see you more clearly!