Seeing others

I want to see you as you are.

And yet I want to fit you into some kind of conventional habitual right way of being, though I know that has no value, gives me no delight, distances me from you, prevents our connection…

And I want to produce some habitual conventional response to you, though it is as uncomfortable as not knowing.

I seek illusory safety in illusion.

None of this works, yet I keep trying it; and also see through a glass, darkly, the reality of you, the possibility of something better. I feel a clod, Caliban before Ariel.

And I am climbing toward-
something else-


I was delighted to meet Ruth at the Quaker meeting. She is training to be a Methodist local preacher, and takes one service a month. We discussed inspiration to speak. Her trainer has set aside his notes, and spoken from the heart during worship: it spoke to her heart, it had immediacy, it moved her far more than other sermons.

(We try to fake that, and it is dire: I remember excruciating ex tempore prayer with Evangelical students. “Lord we just– ask…”)

She has not the courage for that, but she has been working on a sermon and felt inspired. The words come, the unthought direction of the preaching comes.

She is the Other, with Other experiences and responses to mine. With such a short encounter, it is so much easier to place her in conventional understanding rather than see the person behind that. These are, after all, thoughts I could have about inspiration, and I am at the stage where imagining


could be cosy and reassuring and habitual.

It is worth practicing, trying something else-

Rheam, arranging flowers

2 thoughts on “Seeing others

  1. I don’t know whether it’s due to my autism or something quite unrelated, but one thing I am unable to do is sense emotions directly. I’m sometimes able to recognise someone’s needs, but it is reached logically. I never feel it as an emotion. It’s the same if I watch TV or visit the theatre. On the other hand, if I have input to a single sense (for example listening to a story on the radio, or reading a book, it is possible for me to actually sense the feelings of another. That’s possibly why I loved listening to particular stories on the radio as a child such as The Littlest Angel told by Lorretta Young, and The Small One told by Bing Crosby. I was able to feel what the little boy and the donkey felt. I suppose it could be called “emotion by proxy”.

    There are few writers that have this effect, but I realise that one of the reasons I follow your blog is because, at least to some extent, I do sense emotions that that would otherwise be absent from my life. I’m not sure that I always read the emotion correctly, but I am grateful that your simple writing moves me in ways that are both familiar and frightening. Thank you.


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