I Am Clouseau. Apparently

Now we may see how this ridiculous thing called my mind Actually Functions.  It’s very much like a dog I saw once, chasing a bug in the grass with his nose.

Today I was forcibly reminded of a couple of things.  We were watching a Pink Panther movie, the Partner and I, one night.  The one where Clouseau is supposed to be dead, but he isn’t, and the Herbert Lom character sees him while delivering his eulogy.  Shorts out, collapses.  I was laughing and the Partner says, in that pre-weapons grade zinger way of his, kindly of course: You really like these don’t you? I snuffled and nodded.  You relate to the Commissioner, don’t you? Again, a snuffled chortle and nod from me.  Have you,  he said, ever thought that you are REALLY like Clouseau?  I was so stunned I got hiccups.  But there is proof positive every day and I have had to learn to live with it.  Today, for example.  I brought the laundry in, and having folded and stacked it haphazardly and.well, my clean socks fell into the kitchen garbage.  Here honey, said the Partner, I’ll carry it into the bedroom.  No! No! I said…I still have to…and then of course there was a huge crash as the garage door opener flew off the laundry carrier and the whole thing tipped over and..there were coffee beans involved…He looked at me.  I looked at the floor and said: I think I’m done here.  Later on, in the shower, I felt quite proud of the fact that although I did drop the shaving cream can, it did not explode as it has other times.  Partner, by now exhausted, skids into the bathroom, says: NOTHING IS EVER QUIET WITH YOU IS IT?  This is just to point out what the backdrop to my thought process is.

Later on, instead of doing what I Should Have Been Doing, I was watching a movie featuring Hillary Swank.  In this film, she portrays a teacher in Long Beach, California, who by paying attention to her students allows them to flower and succeed.  I saw all my old teachers in this movie: The ones who told me I’d never amount to anything, I’d never fit in, never be anything or anybody.  I also saw the ones who paid attention and who, basically, saved me.  So in between all the Noise and stuff, I returned to my pondering of novels and artists and people who are in service to others, and that sort of thing.  It is tremendously challenging to persist in the face of what are really almost insurmountable difficulties.  But people do it every day.  They learn to read, and write, and think for themselves.  They see that we are here to help each other.  Fear really does keep us all apart.  As you may expect, I often see that fear as being fostered and fomented by a system that wants to keep itself in place: A top down arrangement where the only thing that trickles down isn’t very nice.  However.  The effort it takes to really look at another being and see them , just the same as you are, it opens up almost unimaginable vistas of possibility.  The two novelists I mentioned yesterday, Okri (The Famished Road) and wa Thiongo (The Wizard of Crow) do this work of opening those vistas.  I think at times people can say, well that doesn’t have anything to do with me, when they hear or read about someone in a (seemingly) different situation.  But it always has everything to do with all of us .  What we have to do is the work of translating that vista into our own lives, not hiding things about who we are and what we do, or have done.  Understanding that others are not all that different from us (however..er…Clouseau like we may be). Being true to ourselves and honest with our guts, and having compassion.  Compassion doesn’t mean making excuses or pretending to be something we’re not.  It is realizing, as a nurse said to a woman on a gurney in an Emergency Room I worked in, that we are all in pain here.  But it is beautiful anyway.

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