I received a compliment Wednesday on this blog.
You know how you sometimes get negative feedback and sometimes receive positive feedback on your posts?
Once, several months ago, I complained about a negative comment, which broke my heart temporarily. (Don’t go searching–the comment was tossed away.)
Today may I sing about a compliment that lilted the heart, that made me feel more fully seen, more fully witnessed?
Someone said that I was like water, you change, but you’re there.
It was as if someone validated what I’ve been trying oh-so-hard to accomplish on this blog: to show my deepest desire to be fluid, flexible, moving, never defined, always opening, always flowing past pebbled beaches and rocks and beaver dams and moonlit deer sipping sweet stream water.
To show it day in and day out through a wide variety of posts that illuminate the different parts of self, the wideness and deepness and shallowness and largeness of being human.
To flow like a river, endlessly, without allowing myself to shut down in fear or impatience or frustration because society attempts to define us, attempts to keep us in vessels, attempts to understand us.
Society does not want us to be like water. Society wants us to be anything else–preferably something solid; preferably something which conforms, which stays the same.
Society wants us to be predictable.
You, my friend Kathy, and I think of you as my friend – are a wonder. When I first found your blog, I think it was just after you’d finished your photoblog and I was curious to know who was the woman behind them.
I’ve read so many of your words and in them are so many different moods, thoughts, reminiscences, ideas, hopes, wishes, sadnesses, longings and philosophies. I say ‘philosophies’ plural because just when I thought I’d pinpointed one, another would come along. You are like water, you change, but you’re there. And like water, you need a vessel of some sort to hold your form and to show that form. I think blogging is one of your vessels, it shapes you and you help show what it is. Other of your vessels are your family, your friends, nature, your childhood, your need to write and your need to take photographs. Your need to talk and your need to be silent. Your need to be with others and your need to flee from us from time to time to just ‘be’.
I’m very fond of you and I hope that one day we might meet in person. Hugs.
Wow! Kathy is still so amazed.
I called over Christopher.
“Listen, listen, someone said I was like water!” I said.
He smiled gently. He’s a good son.
I shared with Barry.
He nodded, yes, Kathy, seeming to understand this importance.
I wrote one of my friends, copying and pasting the entire compliment.
She wrote back, dutifully, saying This is an awesome compliment! …you are water! moving, delightful, flowing, ever-giving! What a great way to say it! Thank you very much for sharing it! I am delighting in it too!!!
Thank you, dear Val. Thank you for seeing beyond the surface. Thank you for seeing deep. YOU are a wonder.
What makes a great compliment?
I think it’s when someone sees a part of ourselves and calls it forward, giving it back as grace. When someone reflects our image in a way that clarifies, strengthens, soothes. Perhaps it’s a part of self that others do not recognize…or perhaps we ourselves do not honor that part enough.
This is the outer physical world at its best: reflecting back to us what we’re attempting to create in this crazy sometimes confusing world.
You are like water, you change, but you’re there.
I think my biggest challenge in life (and maybe yours too?) is discovering the places within where we don’t flow, where water sits stagnant, where our riverbed dries up.
I am a river flowing to the sea, longing for the sea, yet attempting to enjoy the cliffs, the stream banks, the water hemlock, the abandoned bottles and cans, the stunning wildflowers, the waterfalls, the frozen ice, the snow, the melting of our waters, the slate, the fast brown trout, the lazy frogs.
What might you call yourself? Water, earth, air, fire?
Or are you a little bit of everything joined together tucked in human bones and soft supple skin?
Because I’m water, I’ll change form again and say I’m everything. My feet wear brown earth, winds sing between these ears, fire burns in this heart. Water sprays everywhere, a waterfall careening down the chest toward the knees, toward kayaks lazily paddling around the bend of this precious moment in life.
I hope to meet you half-way and honor your precious fleeting beauty. I hope to discover your own waterfalls, your own silver-finned fish, your own rocky shores.
I hope someone recognizes your unsung beauty. I hope YOU recognize your unsung beauty. How I hope that for you.