Callous Offhand Violence Ingrains Doubt

My place in life has always been with other people, I found this out at an early age. I learn from them, I challenge them as they do me, I deflect them back upon themselves; it is not my intention it is my nature. Without people my life would be stagnant, other people make up my world.

On the days when awoken resentfully by my alarm I would lay there and reflect on who I would see that day and why, and the urge to embrace the day flooded me carrying me into that day with a wave of anticipation that came from without not within.

Navigating life is a task that I’d approached with joy and enthusiasm from a young age, people would respond well to this for the most part. I grew older and uncertain of my place in the world, the world grew around me challenging my development. Sometimes this came in the form of other people who criticised, doubted, and raged against me, some were dismissive and then one attacked.

I looked to those around me to recover. I looked for guidance and help, but the best that I received was sad looks, medication, and advice to shape my being to the unknown expectations of strangers. It seems that I provoke violence and that I must be responsible for the violent tendencies of those I have never met.

I embraced self-medication and re-joined the world a smaller version of myself tempering my joy and enthusiasm to protect against the unknown intentions of others. I learned to dim and hide and moved far away from the person I had been before I learned to supress. It was a confusing time bridging a gateway into who I thought that I should become from who I really am so I packed up and moved again and again chasing opportunities to create a new me that could live in peace protected from violence.

A dimmed light is easiest to hide, adjusting it relative to the darkness and light about us is easier still. Dullness blends in more acceptably bringing no attention and with this I had a measure of security to harbour a new ethic of mistrust. Embracing this way of being gave me an understanding of the world that I could never have imagined again proving how essential others are be they good or bad with the experiences they bring to us. I learned that I wasn’t the only one who’d been chosen to suffer at the hands of another with the approval of the world at large looking on complacently because that’s just the way life is. People entered my life as I followed my passions for story, writing and learning to share my knowledge; it’s here that broken strangers found me, and I recognised them for what they had suffered.

I thought that I had learned a thing or to on the journey to this point, but it had only been a starter kit, an introductory course at best. The learning I experienced in the role of teacher finally gave life some context for me to work with. Here was a place where I could learn to trust again by humbly asking those who’d suffered far more and longer than me to trust and give and be vulnerable, to create a safe space for all to grow and learn.

This was the point that I had reached, accepting a small space in the world where I could hide in plain sight with little ambition. I lived a low paid existence rich with purpose that was fast tracking into a role as another broken character slated to receive the services that I delivered. Before I knew it I would be sitting as a student in the room where I taught past my ability to keep working with no savings, no opportunities and likely homeless; that’s the way the world worked.

Sickness came to the world and had us running scared, so we all went home if we had one and hid. It was hard, it was confronting, it was scary, it was an opportunity to stop and look in the mirror. Mirrors offer no answers, but the news usually did so I watched and listened and scrolled and researched only to become more confused overtime. The idea of fake news became far reaching and what a news source is became questionable, no one could agree where to look or who to listen to. Taking a break from the news I returned to the mirror and saw greys appearing at my temples with lines of worry etched into my face. Fear wore me down, I felt more powerless than ever before and frankly became sick of it all. There was no place for me in these happenings, I had no control, no voice, no evidence to invest my thoughts in to experience some reassurance and I questioned why I was listening at all.

Birds sang outside my window hopping from branch to branch on the native eucalyptus that grows up proudly through the pavement. The tree towered over my 3-story building dwarfing the bricks and mortar to remind me what this place once was. Gum leaves dance in the breeze all day like long delicate fingers gracefully moving with the unseen forces of nature and it is here that the world makes the most sense to me. Rainbow lorikeets, starlings, minor birds, magpies and crows visit periodically with their song alerting me to their presence, it’s then that I stood staring at the tree appreciating it’s flaking bark that fell away to reveal the twisted branches that contorted themselves to be close to the light. I forgot about the nonsense that I was expected to respond to peaceful in the world that lived in the tree and it occurred to me that this could be my life every day. I did not need to check in, follow, update, participate or respond and instead am free to be just me and find assurance in myself.

This was easiest to embrace, it makes sense, I have a part in this process and am able to again step into the light rather than hide from a suffering that I can’t see or influence. Just like the tree I will stand tall supporting the world as it comes to me and push down roots to connect with what I can see and feel and know. The innate reality of the world is what I crave not maybes and I don’t knows, and for better or worse I may have people in my life again.

Hiding for so long as I chose to and barely hanging on in the world was a lightweight version of what my world had become for me. I recognised the process being imposed on us whether it be by design or not I have no idea, I do know though that I can take it and make it my own so I have. This has become a cruel gift that has given me time to regroup and reflect and take my life in a new direction.

Finally, free of the burdens of the world I feel light and joyful and recognise myself. People that I teach now let their worries slip away while learning from me. We are separated now by mandates and enforcements, so my smile is into a camera, but it is genuine and true unlike most things they see displayed on their computer screens. People may not be in a room before me, but they still make up my world.

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