25 May 2015

Ashamed To Tell You: The Road To Personhood

By: Jon Katz
The Road To Personhood

The Road To Personhood

Maria turned to me this morning, her eyes were filled with tears, I asked her what the matter was.

I have something to tell you, she said, it is hard, I am ashamed to say it.

She told me what she had to say, it was not shameful or awful, it was very human, the old thoughts of a child who had been treated badly. I could see on her face how hard it was to tell me those thoughts, how heavy was the load she had been carrying all of her life.

I was proud of her and grateful that we had the trust between us that made it safe for her, I have told her some of the things I was deeply ashamed of, things, I had never told anyone.

One of the stones we carry on our backs is the idea that we and our stories are shameful, that others are better than us, purer, less tormented, that we alone have great secrets to bear. We are taught all of our lives to hide our stories and our secrets, to feel ashamed, to fear what others think of us.

I learned some time ago that everyone in the world has a harder life than I do, has suffered more. We all carry our secrets. To me, the measure of love, of friendship, is trust. Maria has seen me at my very worst, seen me when I would not permit anyone to see me, when no one else could see me.

Many people run and hide from that kind of shame, but the blessed are encouraged by the angels to  take the things they are most ashamed of and bring them into the open. I do that here sometimes, with therapists sometimes, with Maria often.

Mara was shaken by the stories she told me, watching carefully for signs of disapproval and disgust. I felt none of those things, I was overwhelmed by respect for her strength and honesty. It was a difficult thing for her to share.   It told me much about her life that this is what she expected when she told the truth, became authentic. I told her that her stories were powerful, I thanked her for trusting me, I told her this was the road to personhood to authenticity.

There is not one single human being reading this who does not carry shame and fear deeply inside of them, who has not hidden their worst moments and feelings away. I am here to tell you to share them, to bring them into the open, the prophets were right, the confessional is cleansing, truth is the path to rebirth and redemption, but everyone does not need a priest. A lover is good, so is a friend. I have confessed my shame to dogs and donkeys, written it on my blog, danced around it in my memoirs.

When I can look the world in the eye and say to anyone, this is the worst of me, this is the best of me, then I will be close to my destination, my quest to be authentic.

Posted in General

The She-Devil Gives The White Hen The Eye

By: Jon Katz
The She-Devil Stalks The White Hen

The She-Devil Stalks The White Hen

The She-Devil was out in the back yard and the white hen hopped over the fence to join her. The She-Devil watched quietly for awhile, five or six minutes, then got up and stalked the white hen, giving her the eye. The White Hen headed for the fence and hopped over. The She-Devil was surprised and disappointed. (She could easily have gone after the hen, but did not, just wanted to herd her a bit.) I told her the hen was not a sheep, she needs to find something better to do.

Posted in General

Memorial Day, My Town, Cambridge, N.Y.

By: Jon Katz
My Town

My Town

I love my town, Cambridge, N.Y., it offers community and pride. The people here are not all alike, are not always nice, do not always see the world in the same way. But just about everyone comes out to nod and wave to the veterans on Memorial day.

Posted in General

Memorial Day

By: Jon Katz
Memorial Day

Memorial Day

I love my country, but am sometimes sad to live in a country that loves war so much, and where angry old men send idealistic young ones off to die and be maimed. I think if the old men had to go, peace would triumph quickly.  I am never sure how to honor the veterans, I'm not into 21-gun salutes, I like to pause and look in their faces and eyes, I see them in the parades and Red and I see them in therapy work.

There is a special look on their faces, a mixture of sadness and weariness, you see it in veterans of almost every age. I cannot imagine going away to engage in combat, I cannot really grasp what it must be like.  I have read a thousand books about it, but cannot pretend that I can really imagine it or understand it. That would be insulting to the people who do know. Memorial Day makes me think of peace, of empathy and compassion. The Native-Americans claim that the message of the horses is to remind us that we are at a crossroads, we shall either live in harmony or perish together, one way or another.

Violence seems to live and endure in the human genome, but so does peace and love.

The cynical say that we will either find a way to kill one another or, failing that, destroy Mother Earth. I am no Dystopian, I believe in hope and the triumph of the better side of the human spirit. So I always nod my head in gratitude for the veterans and hope that future generations will not have any veterans' to see.

Posted in General

With George And Donna: Memorial Day

By: Jon Katz
Memorial Day

Memorial Day

One of our good traditions is to join our friends the photographer George Forss and the artist Donna Wynbrandt at the annual Cambridge, N.Y. Memorial Day Parade. George was out with one of his jerry-mandered lenses, Maria brought Fate along. She did well, although she was rattled by the truck horns and drums, things she has never heard before. She liked all of the attention. It was good to see George and Donna, warriors for creativity every single day. George never stops looking for great photos, Donna continues to produce beautiful art for the shows she is participating in.

The parade is short and very local. Lots of fire companies, some horses and cows, veterans and boy scouts. it is nice to be here, Fate already has a large following I see. She is heading for rock star fame, I think. We brought Red last year, but he did not like the noise. He waited in the car.

Posted in General