Tag Archives: Community

Connection

on the road to somewhere

Being an introvert and ambivalent about interacting, I often keep myself folded up when I’m out in the world. This also increases my sense of disconnection and loneliness, and yet I persist. However, sometimes I relax, and life beautifully unfolds.

I was at the motor vehicle department to apply for a REAL ID, which is the federally-approved driver’s license that will permit me to fly without carrying a passport. For this I needed several types of paperwork to confirm my identity; to provide proof of address, I brought a life insurance bill. When my number was called, the associate who helped me was first struck by my purple hair and commented how much she liked it. I get this a lot. I’ve been purple for six years, and it seems to delight other people as much as it does me.

Then she began looking at my papers. She asked me what the life insurance paper was, and I replied it was a bill for my life insurance. She paused and said, “I told my husband the other day we really need to get life insurance.” Then she stopped her work entirely and began telling me about her life. She has two adult children who moved back home and who don’t get along. She told me about the stress it created, and how she couldn’t afford the fee to file evictions on them (they won’t move out). I listened and empathized. I mentioned how I’d had a fight with my 12 year old daughter the day before, and how she’d said something utterly disrespectful. The associate sympathized. We talked about how difficult it is to parent. She continued to tell me how her husband and son nearly came to blows in a recent argument and advised me to nip insolent behavior in the bud. Somewhere in the conversation she began working on my license application as she spoke. When our transaction ended, I thanked her for sharing with me and wished her well, and she returned the sentiment.

I stepped into the next line to get my photo taken, but when it was my turn, my file wasn’t accessible. The associate had forgotten to close it; the photographer couldn’t proceed. The associate had gone to lunch and left her station. So I stepped aside while they searched for her. The staff was apologetic, and I said it really wasn’t a problem. As I waited, several other staff members passed by, and one woman said I was “rockin’ the purple hair!” and high-fived me. It was altogether a congenial experience. What surprised me was the connection outside the business at hand. I marvel at this, at the serendipity that arises when I am relaxed and receptive while out in the world. It changed the tone of my entire day for the better.

It Matters

“It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing. What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.”

— Laura McBride, We Are Called to Rise

Art Every Day Month – Day 4

As I passed by a large concrete planter in downtown Santa Clara I happened to notice this. Risperdal is the brand name for Risperidone, a medication used to treat schizophrenia and for short-term use with bipolar disorder. I was well-acquainted with this drug for several years when I worked at a non-profit mental health center in Austin. I worked on the Assertive Community Treatment team, which assisted people who had multiple hospitalizations. Each of us had a caseload of ten people, and each client received intensive care: medication management; being taken to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store; in some cases I managed the income they received from Social Security Disability (paltry though it was) and helped them budget for rent, utilities, and so on. It was an intense job, and I burned out on it. I learned a great deal about myself in the process. It was humbling.

art everyday month 07 - day 4 - public mental health

Public Mental Health