in proportion to hope
compassion and empathy
intimacy seems a tool that sits
in a toolbox yet to be used for
building upon anything real

an acquaintance asks if i’m dating after not talking to me for nearly a year. i try not to respond with emotion, try not to respond at all. i think about intimacy, sensing that i have it all wrong, that it’s not something for me, not something i’m discerning enough to understand. i feel unqualified and too prideful to admit it.
i ignore her.

later i connect with the group open to making friends – i talk while pretending i’m not self-conscious, saying what’s on my heart and knowing i’ll regret being too truthful. beads of sweat form on my forehead and upper lip as i work to keep my voice steady having listened to everyone’s pain and wanting first to acknowledge how much i love them and i do, more than conceivably makes sense. we all acknowledge how the psychological, spiritual and emotional tools we’ve amassed at times just stops working. our ages vary from twenty-two to seventy-five; i feel blessed to witness the scope of fragility held without prejudice to all humankind.

even later i connect with a woman who started a school and lives onsite twenty-four hours a day. she’s in her sixties and asks my opinion about why i think students are leaving and suddenly i feel small, knowing my real opinion leaves me vulnerable. i respond with one word, “family” and she seems to know exactly what i mean. kids are smarter than we were at their age, with access to everything they need to teach themselves whatever they please, and school in light of the state of the world is increasingly little more than distraction to the realities they see at home. healthy children are not easy to find but i didn’t say that. she’d considered her school was not exciting enough to keep their attention and to some degree she’d be correct but the bigger issue isn’t in the hands of the smaller questions and the answer isn’t hers to solve. not really. it’s the child’s. i don’t say that. i just hold space and listen and she does the same for me.

i’m grateful. for every experience avoided and embraced, because they all tell me where i perceive to be stuck and perceive to be free. it takes a multitude of unexpected experiences for an us to feel like a me.

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