25 July 2014

During the last 30 hours
people have told me I am
smart    awesome   generous   a good teacher
patient   kind   funny  right    wonderful
talented   and     highly educated

I wish people wouldn't do that. 

When you say "Alex, you're so generous" 
your words create more space between us  -- 
 you're over there 
describing me 
and I'm over here 
standing on a little pedastal
and I can't see you because of the spotlight in my eyes.

But when you say "I appreciate you sitting with me for the last two hours
and listening to that horrible story about my sister
I was so mad I felt sick and I really needed someone to listen to me
I feel a lot better now"

We're closer
I can see you better than I could before we sat together
And you can probably see me better, too
Maybe I'm starting to look like a friend to you

We're making progress

Sometimes -- (actually....a lot of the time)

flattery feels like pity 
 Are you saying those words because you think I need to hear them?

 or subterfuge     What's not being said so that you can say something nice? Is there something deep or scary or intimate or sacriligious or....that's not being said?

or manipulation

Maybe you're feeling unappreciated. You think that maybe if you pay me a compliment I'll pay you one? "Alex, you're a true artiste"..........."oh but you're the only one sensitive enough to appreciate my work..."
If you're thinking "I'll never say anything nice to Alex again"
you misunderstand the fine point. 
I want to know you. Please don't describe me to myself:  tell me who you are and how you're doing.

And if you're thinking "But I don't like to talk about myself..."


just say that. 

If I say, 

Thank you. You're so kind. You're a true friend..."

you know what I think of you -- at least in this moment. You have my opinion and a label:   "True Friend." 


if I say 

"Thank you. This has been a rotten day and I really didn't feel like cooking tonight. This little pot pie is right on time..."

you can still be sure that you've extended a kindness (if there was any doubt) but we're standing on level ground with each other AND you "felt" me because I let you see that I "felt" you, that my life was impacted by you. 


I may be warming up to writing 

The Transformative Artist's Manifesto