Free To Be Truthful
First blog: Intro 8/18/12
I suddenly break out crying. I know why: because yesterday a young male cashier at Jewel confidently called me – and the lovely young bagger – “honey”, and I walked away and took it.
For the last couple years this has really rankled me – to be called “honey” by service people. I never cease to be taken by surprise, and I don’t say anything because it’s a small interaction that happens in the middle or end of a larger transaction and I don’t realize it’s happened till the moment has passed.
I talk myself out of making a fuss about it. Frequently it’s a woman who does this: a waitress, beautician, cashier. I say to myself “It’s a woman; it’s not intended to be demeaning.” Also I realize that I lookyoung and sweet, though I’m 67, usually way older than whoever has called me “honey.” But most of all I hear Culture inside my head saying “It’s no big thing. It’s friendly. Don’t make a fuss over a small innocent friendly comment.”
But here I’ve burst into tears over it! I feel un-respected, demeaned, and I feel as bad for the young bagger as for myself. He asked her to go for me to get a grocery item and exactly as he added “honey” I saw this tall competent-looking young lady about his own age hunch over and look confused, put in her place.
There’s a history here. I remember my similar reactions in early adulthood when I was reading a lot of philosophy and theology. I would sometimes burst out crying, feeling “left out of the discussion”, uninvited, ignored (even though I was just reading a book!) by the constant use of mankind, man, and “he” in all these discussions about the great questions around being human. I wanted to say “Hey! I’m here, too!” I felt invisible and not valued, just a woman listening in.
Again in my head I could hear the arguments of Culture: “These words stand for everyone. It’s only a habit of speech, etc.” But I did feel like I was watchinga discusion but not expected to be part of it.
Farther down the path in my life, when my children were young, we were attending a small church where a middle-aged salt-and-pepper-haired man was entering the seminary. The whole congregation was behind him, so enthused and cheering him on.
As a child, I had wanted to be a priest. Of course, at some point I saw the reality there but in high school I began to think of the new field open to lay people – perhaps I could be a theologian. I was discouraged out of that by an incredulous relative who suggested if I were really thinking seriously I’d go into speech therapy – “there are jobs in that!” I still continued in the fields of religion and philosophy, reading all I could with no idea where to go with my inclinations. I thought about this man going into the seminary and how lucky he was to have a cheering team. No one wanted me to pursue a serious career either pastoral or intellectual in the Catholic Church. I’d done the nun thing and found it way too passive. I’d done directing Religious Education and found myself out-ruled always by the pastor who knew nothing about children.
So I created my own cheering squad. Like a child playing house: my Hummel statue of young Mary, my stuffed frog (named Beauty), and a couple other similar precious “things” that I can’t remember. I kept them in a circle near my bedside and projected into them the encouragement and valuing I needed. This was pretty pathetic for an adult, I know! But – it’s true!
I feel I’ve moved forward intellectually against great odds. The men of the world did not invite me into their discussions, their “great thoughts” about life and men and mankind. But I thought about life anyway and have not had to be tethered to their traditional subjects and lines of thought. I’ve been free to let Life teach me, ask me questions, test me, grade me, and give me feedback – i.e. Life hears my thoughts!
And so – my blog! My wandering blog, exploring the world, free to be truthful. Free to base my thoughts on experience, not abstract logic as philosphers and theologians often do. I’m happy to receive feedback, though I have no interest in “being right” and so would avoid argumentation. Rather, I look for augumentation– the development of our understanding, by standing under our real lives and experiences. We can enrich each other, my friends, old and new, with me here together for a short time in this beautiful interesting challenging classroom we call Earth.