Hope for Those on the Outside Looking In …
I truly feel in my heart that one of the greatest gifts/challenges (they are often the same) is to not “fit in” in life. Falling outside the “idealized norm” (whatever that may be) often provides an opportunity for awareness, compassion, and understanding that may not be possible otherwise.
It’s in our own suffering that we are able to help and understand others across any and all issues.
The following poem is based on a book by Andrew Solomon, titled Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. The book covers a number of topics related to what happens when something occurs in someone’s life that places him or her outside of the “norm”. Solomon covers the topics of deafness, autism, birth defects. In the introduction, the author relates how his own experience as a man who is gay affects his ability to relate to the situations he describes.
Of course, I am not saying that simply because someone is gay or has a child with autism that this automatically leads to increased compassion or a saintly-like status. The struggle for human rights is not limited to one group or one time in history. May our “differencse” come to be the principle that includes everyone.
Far From the Center
A man, eloquently,
in words that went unrhymed,
outlined in chapter, tense, and verse,
life lived far from the center.
Center, being the norm, defined by others.
In space, he lived
on the peripheral island-
as man, gay-
in a society and culture
that “tolerates” but
never understands and refuses
To speak for another is misrepresentation
To place the words of another upon
one’s tongue, tasting the paper,
is even riskier.
After rolling his textual constructs
along my palate, this is what sounded to my ears:
The closet, in and out,
became the possible passageway.
When the scales from the lizard’s dreaming
eyes fell away and before him life lay.
Knowing neither what it is to be
man, nor what it is to be gay,
did not halt the reflective power
of our exchange-
Soul to paper
Paper to soul.
Gay- his word, not mine-
became the prism through which
he viewed a myriad of “conditions”…
birth defects, and
apples that fall
far, far from the tree.
What is it to realize in a life moment
(or a lifetime of moments)
When one comes to the negotiated
understanding that one is navigating
life far from center?
What split in time occurs-
Does a time “before” automatically
imply a time “after”?
Does a marked tear appear in heaven
with the realization that the center
does not hold for you?
Or does the progressed awareness
slide into a spectrum of
moments, before and after,
birthing one another again and again?
Compassion comes to mind,
evoking its sister companion-
Of this, I will have none.
For I learned, as he wrote,
or with more honest accuracy,
what I read in his writing:
To live life far from the center
Of life ever after.