We need connection
We remember what went wrong
A doctor of mine, whom I had great esteem for once said: “Children tend to remember the bad things, things that went wrong. Why? Because if everything is good, it is as it should be. They don’t remember all the details, just that it was good.” I must say she had a talent for taking the wind out of my sails with her remarks sometimes. This is what I understood: Children should be loved and accepted as they are at home, they trust that we will take care of them, that we will teach them what they need to know. They trust us. That’s it. When they experience bad things, they remember them. Of course, I know none of us lead perfect lives and we are not supposed to, but I think you get the gist.
Sadly, not a small number of children are traumatized during their childhood and youth. These experiences leave scars. And often these experiences can influence them for the rest of their lives. I am not talking about this dimension of trauma but things that we feel didn’t go right as a child. The smaller stuff that we are not supposed to sweat. We remember that. Thinking of our childhood should bring back memories of feeling safe, being loved, freedom, understanding, compassion. Perhaps a little romantic. Is it the case that we first and foremost remember what didn’t go well?
Is it true?
Do we first and foremost remember what didn’t go well?
“What about us?” We ask. “Why do we get overlooked so often?” What’s it like when you slowly get out of your car parked on a disabled parking spot and you hear: “Why do you have a disabled badge I can’t see anything wrong with you?”. By the way there are far too little disabled parking spots and hardly any for those who use mobility aids. A similar discerning remark can be “Oh you’re in pain. I know I get a lot of pains; I just take a tablet and it goes away”. If it’s that simple that’s great, but it often isn’t. In Germany, Accessibility is still at an infant stage in a lot of places. Just think about needing to go to the toilet.
Do I always give what I hope for?
I don’t know about you, but I expect myself to be patient with others and would like to think that I see them. You know the saying “Treat others as you would like to be treated” Well guess what, I lose my patience even though I know what it is like not to be seen. I don’t see everyone. Sometimes I catch myself on the verge of moaning about and judging someone I really know very little about. But then a little voice in my head pipes up. You know like in the film “Inside out”. It says: Wait a minute, aren’t you the one who gets all uptight when people start judging you or getting your situation completely wrong? Yes, you have a case, I am guilty as charged.
Changing your perspective
Everybody has a story. Today on the way to the doctors I was listening to a radio program in the car. It was about museum attendants and the way they see art, which they see every day. The Norwegian author, Thomas Espedal put it like this: There is nothing to travelling, to see new places, it is more difficult to walk the same route every day, to see the same places, in a new way, maybe, but still, the same streets, the same houses, for a new thought to find a whole new way of being the same.
This same old perspective the museum attendants have is perhaps in a way a new perspective.
So what is my point? Well we may often feel kind of trapped in “same old” situations, so we need to be open to different perspectives.
Background stories -everyone has them
What do museum attentdants think about seeing the same works of art every day and which ones do they appreciate in particular? In Berlin an exhibition has been curated about just this topic at 6 different places. One of the attendants talks about a large Persian carpet depicting many animals in the Pergamon Museum. This is one of his favourite exponents although he has an allergy to dust. But he finds looking at the carpet comforting.
Another attendant talks about a bowl which has such a minimalistic form… but actually it isn’t these stories that fascinate me. No, what I find interesting is the museum attendants’ background stories. I must come clean and say I thought being a museum attendant was a simple job, and I didn’t pay much attention to them, except when one came running up to me with a very sour face, as my 2-year-old daughter was about to touch a very valuable painting. She didn’t. I now know that there’s more to this job than meets the eye and I couldn’t do it. So, what kind of people do this job?
A former baker and pastry chef who later learned to be a wine sommelier. His hobbies are experimental and film music, but he doesn’t listen to it, he makes it. A passionate antique collector who has always been interested in typography. He was a typograph in the advertising and communication branch for many years. That is until he became depressed. Now he works in a museum and enjoys it. Just two stories behind people we usually tend not to notice.
Everybody has a background story: a therapist, a doctor, a person on the bus, a person at the ticket office etc.….
Take a moment to think about this
Everybody has a story – what’s yours?
Watching a typical Friday evening film, I got an unexpected takeaway: I learned that when members of a certain southwest African Tribe meet, they greet each other with the words „I see you” – Sawubona –. How many times have you had someone say to you “How are you?” and they just keep on walking without waiting for an answer?
I SEE YOU
What do you think about that? Imagine someone greeting you with the words „I see you “.
If I were to greet my physiotherapist tomorrow with the words “I see you” I am quite sure she would give a strange look and I would feel a little strange, too. We are not really used to taking real notice of eachother. Perhaps we should try it out. Let me know what happens if you do.
I See you!
Perhaps we should try this greeting out. Let me know how it goes!
“Don’t be such a snowflake!”
There are those who, when confronted with people who feel they are being misunderstood, or feel unseen, react by saying “Don’t be such a snowflake!” This really rubs me up the wrong way.
Snowflakes in nature are unique and complex. In his book What Shape Is A Snowflake? Ian Stewart shows how snowflakes develope by the principles of mathematics like many things we consider to be the beauty of nature. Definately worth reading. He puts a whole new perspective on maths. I wish I had known about him, when I was at school! Wilson Bentley, an American farmer, photographer, and researcher of snow said, “Every snowflake has an infinite beauty which is enhanced be knowledge that the investigator will, in all probability, never find another exactly the same.”
A bible verse says: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
In my eyes whoever thought of this term to describe young people they deem to be weak and oversensitive knew nothing about snowflakes. But I guess in a way for some people this term is appropriate for they are not being seen as they really are.
Paddington has tea with the Queen
There are times though, when the best way forward is to “Keep Calm and Carry On” Do you know where this saying, which for obvious reasons is becoming popular again now, comes from? During Spring 1939 the British Ministry of Information designed several propaganda posters. The message to the people being they should not worry. The idea was to boost their morale in view of the difficult times to come.
The most prominent example living by this guideline is Queen Elizabeth II, who has just celebrated her 70th Jubilee of ascending the throne in 1952. Her grandchildren go about things in a slightly different way – being more open and talking about subjects like Mental Health.
The opening act of the Jubilee celebrations was a sketch of the Queen having tea with Paddington Bear, a children’s book character created by Michael Bond. The Queen forgives him for drinking all the tea out of the teapot spout and tells him where she keeps her marmalade sandwich for emergencies. Which just means: Always be prepared.
Focus on this
- Try and give people the patience and understanding you would like to recieve
- Change your perspective now and again
- Always remember to keep a marmelade sandwich in your handbag, you never know when you might need some nourishment
Bentley, W. A. B. & Humphreys, W. J. H. (1932). Snow Crystals (revised edition, Bd. 1). Dover Publications Inc.
Brown, B. B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection (first edition). Hazleden Publishing.
Stewart, I. S. (2001). What Shape is a Snowflake? W H Freeman & Co.
Baroni, O. B. (2020, 17. Dezember). Keep Calm and Carry On – wenn ein Weltkriegsplakat plötzlich wieder hochaktuell wird. https:/Watson.ch. Abgerufen am 4. Juli 2022, von https://www.watson.ch/wissen/spass/554338708-keep-calm-and-carry-on-wenn-ein-weltkriegsplakat-wieder-hochaktuell-ist
Sawubona: Ein schöner Gruß eines afrikanischen Stammes. (2019, 7. Februar). https:/Gedankenwelt.de. Abgerufen am 4. Juli 2022, von https://gedankenwelt.de/sawubona-ein-schoener-gruss-eines-afrikanischen-stammes/