Friday, December 26, 2014

Adjectiveliess You

I think the most magical moments in life, for me, are those when the adjectives disappear and all that's left is 'being'. Let me explain what I mean by telling you how that happened this Christmas.

It was Christmas eve and Mike and Marissa and Ruby and Sadie were all over at our place. We had prepared our traditional feast so, after one or two presents were opened, we noshed and talked. It all ended when the kids decided, enough with food, enough with talk, it's time to open presents.

The girls, this year, have made a huge transition. They were equally excited to give as to receive. They were excited about the mound of gifts they had to open but that could wait. They eagerly gave gifts to Mom and Dad and to Joe and me. We opened them and marvelled, without pretence, at the thoughtfulness behind the gifts.

Then they opened theirs. Paper was flying and they were like paper tearing machines who set about the business of getting the gifts free of their wrapping. What took hours to wrap took seconds to be torn asunder. It was fun watching the whole process.

I watched all this from my chair. I have a big chair, no surprise there, that's set up on huge cement blocks to give it height. This makes getting in and out of the chair easy for me and it was our cheap adaption for what would have been an expensive purchase. It's height gave me the perfect view of all the happenings. Watching happy kids be especially happy is delightful.

When it was all done, the kids reached into their stockings, which had been set aside for the event. And they each pulled out a story. I had written a 5 page story about Ruby and Sadie. It was about a wonderful moment in time. It was something I wanted them to remember so I thought turning it into a written story would do the trick.

To my surprise, Ruby climbed up on my chair and sat beside me on the arm of the chair. She had decided she wanted to read the story aloud to the group. I remembered, instantly, a couple years earlier Ruby saying, with such sadness in her voice, that she couldn't read. Now here she was with a 5 page story in her hand, about to read it aloud.

She began. I listened as she read the words, captured by her excitement about the story and watching as the memory of the event came alive in her voice. Sadie watched Ruby read and you could almost see her memory brought to life in her eyes. For a few seconds, magical seconds, I ceased to be a man with adjectives. Fat. Gay. Tall. Disabled. Man. Cook. Writer. Consultant. Supervisor. Partner.

Surrounded by the warmth of the gathering, listening to the voice of a child reading a story, I was able to just simply be.


Without adjectives.

I am very happy to be me. I am very happy that I come with adjectives. But. It's nice when, for a few seconds, all that exists is the essence of who I am. Oh, I know my being is affected by every single thing that I am, but what I am, isn't all that I am. My Daveness is separate, in an odd way, from Dave.

I'm imagining now, after re-reading what I've written, that this will make no sense to anyone. That I've not done well in describing what happened in that moment. But I'm going to post it anyways. Because this is a story I want to read again. I want to be reminded that I need, now and then to seek times when my focus leaves the list (Fat. Gay. Tall. Disabled. Man. Cook. Writer. Consultant. Supervisor. Partner.) and moves to that part of me that's only me gets a chance to assert itself in my mind and my heart.

I hope, really hope, that each of you has moments like that. Moments when you remember that how you are described isn't the whole of who you are. Moments when you remember that being you is an indescribable experience, that there are no adjectives big enough or complex enough or inclusive enough to capture what you are when you aren't anything but you.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

A line from a movie captures it perfectly: "My heart is full."

Thanks for sharing - it sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas. I wish you an even better New Year.

Thank you for the present of your thoughtful words.


Susan said...

I so get this... Thanks for putting words to the most wonderful thing in the world. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing and happy New year to you, Joe and all those you love. Yesterday, I too also had the wonderful gift of being able to shed all the labels, diagnosises, deficits and self serving perceptions others most often choose to view me through. Instead I was the much loved adult daughter who was able to conspire with my brother to surprise our Mother with a special delight she had not experienced in decades. She giggled on and off all day due to this very simple surprise, I was the kid sister that had the right jokes and got the perfect new sweater for my brother who really wanted a new one. I was the aunt that didn't mind meeting the rats. Ball pythons and turtles and holding them too while helping to sooth early adolescent aches and my contributions to the holiday meal were enjoyed and praised instead of criticised by staff as not exactly following the recipe. Thanks for also reminding me that underneath others baggage I am also still sometimes M. Hard to believe sometimes that I'm also considered a leading self advocate. Your sharing your story helped me to reconnect with mine. Thank you.

clairesmum said...

perhaps this is the essence of Dave, out of which the adjectives arise..but the sum of the descriptors does not equal the essence.....interesting that the essence is visible in the presence of children....

thanks, Dave....for sharing such a wonderfully wise and tender moment with all of us...

Anonymous said...


it s so good, that you enjoy just being you sometimes.

I did that less and less, while my idea of standing for myself in society ate me up through my insecourities. Until I learned that I am loved just the way I am.

And I know often find the time to enjoy just being me.


JaneB said...

I know exactly what you mean! Such rare and special moments (my last one was on a bench in a marsh, when a weasel popped out of the grass and looked at me with simple curiosity, and I looked back, and we were just there, two living things in a living place with the wind and the autumn sun, just for a moment...). We studied a poem at school with the line "let the heart take its photograph" which sums up for me what the memory of those moments is - a heart photograph, for a heart moment, a moment of being without any of the strings. A gift!