I see you. Kneeling. Taking your frustration – and maybe even some personal pain – and channeling it into a peaceful gesture meant to draw attention; hoping to start a dialogue.
I see you.
I’ll admit – my initial reaction when the very first athlete knelt was visceral. I watched a millionaire – who made his millions at a job he wasn’t very good at, or so I’ve been told by those who know far more than me – kneel and then give an interview about how tough his life was. I didn’t think clearly right away. But I’ve educated myself. I’ve talked to those who have been suspected/pulled over/judged/doubted simply because of the skin they wear.
I’ve learned. I’ve educated myself. I’ve admitted that, in quite a few ways, things have been easier for me because of the color of my skin. And now?
I REALLY see you. Not just the gesture. I see your frustration. I don’t claim to understand it, but I see it. I see the desire to make the world a better, safer place for absolutely everyone.
So how can I help? I know that you, as a millionaire athlete, can donate large quantities of money to worthy causes. I don’t have those funds so that’s not an option for me. Maybe you have the skill, the drive, the passion, the connections to establish a foundation that will allow others to donate their financial resources. Again, not my skill set.
So what can I do? As a woman, nearing 50, who has limited financial resources but an unlimited capacity to love people from all walks of life and all skin shades, what action can I take?
I’ve educated myself and will continue to do so. I’ve talked to those who have lived with issues I’ve never faced. I’ve acknowledged privilege.
So what can I DO?
Spent some time doing some reflecting and self-evaluating lately. That time was focused on my “word for the year” which is the word “alignment”. It has been my goal this year to focus in, with laser-like intensity, on what it is I am most passionate about. Once I was clear on my focus, it became obvious where I should – and should not – be spending my time. And it has becoming INCREASINGLY clear that some people do not get to have access to that time or that passion. This doesn’t mean I won’t interact with them in my particular area(s) of passion. I’m just going to keep a healthy distance between us so that my purpose stays clear and clearly mine. Some people, sadly, cannot find it in themselves to support others or let them shine if it means that they must step to the side for a moment. Others will scream their goodwill in your direction and do everything they can to help you achieve your dreams, even if it means they are unseen when you reach the mountaintop.
That second group? That is your tribe. Those people who aren’t threatened by your achievements or success because they know you will be there for them when it’s their turn.
So to those that are my tribe – I hope you know who you are! And thank you for the support, the positive words, and the encouragement.
The title of this blog comes from a Joni Mitchell song that has been recorded by at least a few artists –
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
It’s a well-known phrase and some people even argue that you know exactly what you have but you don’t think you’ll ever lose it. I can understand that perspective. But I believe that while you may know what you have, you don’t understand the value of it till you lose it.
And some things you can’t avoid losing.
When my kids were little, we would stay with my grandparents when we went to my hometown to visit. My grandmother constantly voiced her concerns that the kids were too close to the stairways and could get hurt. She would wonder aloud if the room they slept in was too cold/too warm. When my grandfather would take them for a ride in the trailer towed by his lawn tractor, grandma always cautioned him not to go too fast so the kids wouldn’t get bounced around.
As a young mom, it was easy to get exasperated and see her constant worrying as a sign that she doubted my abilities as a mom. Now I understand that she loved her grandkids and would never have forgiven herself if something had happened to one of them when she could have prevented it.
I would give almost anything to hear her say, “Don’t let her get too close to those stairs. She might fall” just one more time.
Right up until the day he died, my grandfather insisted that he wasn’t losing his hearing. He was convinced we were all just mumbling. So we’d repeat ourselves two or three times until we found the right volume for him to hear us.
Now I know that my grandfather was struggling with what aging does to the human body. He had been an athlete and farmer, he’d driven a delivery truck for Standard Oil and had spent much of his life working hard at physically demanding jobs. To admit to something as mundane as hearing loss? I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating it must have been for him.
I would give anything to have to repeat myself, just a little bit louder, one more time.
When my kids were little, the constant cries of “Mommy” could get a bit overwhelming. I had three girls who danced, all four participated in theatrical productions, had outings with friends, a few who did the marching band thing, all four did choir . . . you get the idea! Having four kids in just under five years meant that there were days I had to work to find space to take a deep breath! I remember, during those younger years, imagining what it would be like not to have sticky little hands grabbing at me or small people needing me all the time. I was thrilled when kiddos started driving – or their friends did – so my schedule got a little more breathing room since I didn’t need to play chauffeur quite as much.
As I look back now, I see their “neediness” for what it is – trust. They came to me because they trusted me to meet their needs and help them with their social schedule.
Now they are all grown and gone. And I would give just about anything for one more skinned knee that only mom could kiss away. Or one more “Mom, can you give me a ride?”.
I knew exactly how much I loved each and every one of these people. But there are things I miss now that I never expected to miss. I really didn’t know what I had until it was gone. True, my kiddos are still alive and willing to interact with me via phone calls, texts, etc. But they aren’t around all the time like they once were.