Tag Archives: identity

worried about big legos

worried-about-big-legos

During a week filled with worries about class schedules, family illness, nonprofit fundraisers, big decisions, and tax nightmares, I found myself most concerned Wednesday afternoon about whether or not I would have a chance in the “intergalactic battle” being created at my feet with enormous legos.

I needed to type out a quick note for his grandmother on letterhead before our session was over, and I asked him if he preferred I do it at the beginning or the end. He said he would start building his army while I typed the letter, and then I could build mine, and then the war.

Halfway through the paragraph-long letter, I caught myself looking down at my feet and thinking, “How am I going to beat him? He’s built a fortress around his robots, and he has soldiers lining the wall on the inside and outside! I need to get finished with this letter so I have a chance at all!”

He was talking the entire time I was typing, which was adding to my stress. “You know I’m going to beat you, Donald. This wall is impenetrable. And these robots can break through all of your walls. Are you getting scared yet, Donald?”

And I WAS getting scared. I found myself trying to type faster so I could get to work on my own fortress and walls and robots.

So for about fifty minutes on Wednesday afternoon, I was laying on the floor in my office with an incredibly brave nine-year-old, who recently found his mother dead in her bed and called the police, worried about whether I had enough mega blocks to make an army big enough to contend with his.

I didn’t, of course. He won, not that I was trying to go easy on him; I wanted to win, but he beat me. We began to talk about his planning, his bravery, his skill, his initiative. These were all the things which led him to beating me in our intergalactic war on the bamboo rug in my office.  There were all the things which also led him to cope in miraculous and hope-affirming ways with the loss of his mother and a world turned upside down.

And it would be his lesson in these things which made me consider my class schedule, family illness, nonprofit fundraisers, big decisions and tax nightmares with the eyes of a nine-year-old who is much braver and stronger than I.

Every conversation is  privilege with answers waiting to be found by all involved. If it doesn’t feel that way, our arrogance is leading.

djordan
Pine Tree

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losing and finding ourselves

When in Louisville this March, I went to see an art exhibit of Goicolea’s work at the Museum Hotel 21C. The piece above is a photo of his work where a relative of the Cuban American artist has been drawn from a negative rendering of the old photo, then posted on a telephone poll that sits inside the gallery.

I’ve been haunted by the piece ever since, and have been trying to understand myself what is so compelling about it.

With an ancestor’s portrait posted as lost on a telephone poll, it seems as though there is something deeply honest about looking, as if for someone lost, to find out who we are, where we’ve come from and what we are made of. We know that the stories we can remember of our own lives have been incredibly impacting, and we know that our parents share similar stories which have shaped who they are as well, and on and on through a timeline of generations ahead of us, a timeline that will precede after us.

Everyone looking for and finding themselves.
Shaped by the stories of who we are and who those who came before us were.

And we claim the stories of heritage we want attached to us. Stories of hard work and family and ingenuity and generosity and imagination.

And we wrestle against the stories we don’t want attached to us. Stories of racism and illness and greed and selfishness and arrogance.

The folks who check in for help to the psychiatric inpatient unit have been teaching me this last month what it means to grasp both sets of stories as we search for who we are and who we can be in the world. We look at our own lives and the lives of those who have come before us, we take a deep and unjudging breath, and we embrace the stories of hard work and racism and family and illness and ingenuity and greed and generosity and selfishness and imagination and arrogance.

In losing hopes of curating our stories to manipulate who we wanted to be, we find ourselves in the wholeness of who we are.

And in so doing, we are held and found accountable by those who have struggled with stories before us.

***

The picture below is a triptych of Goicolea’s where he has brought together all the family images from generations past and present, and placed them next to each other in one print. Because of the dates of the compiled photographs, a grandmother might be sitting as a child in her own granddaughter’s lap, blurring the lines of space and time while fortifying the lines of influence.

djordan
Pine Tree

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