Do You See Past The Cover?

I was reading a blog this morning that sparked this blog. It always amazes me how I can read something and instantly my words start to form in my head. This story is especially good and I hope you will go and read it. It is about helping a friend and wishing a friend for us all.

This blog made me think of how I am always saying I am Deb…I am not my diseases. And yet, many will look at me and see nothing but my disabilities or my chronic illness.  And I am sure many that are chronically ill can identify with this.

I have to wonder though how often we do that in general and not just to the disabled or chronically ill. Do we look at the homeless and only see that they are poor or dirty or wearing ragged clothes and never see the person inside all of that? Do we look at the blind and not see what is inside that face and mind that holds so many treasures to tell? In general, do we look at the exterior and never take the time to see what is going on or what is the real story?

I have become fascinated with the documentary “Grey Gardens” and what has fascinated me is that so many have watched this documentary and very few come away with the true story. They only see the dielapidated and dirty house and all the cats and raccoons messing it up and do not see these two strong and talented women who are survivors. They come away making comments about how filthy they are and how dumb to watch the documentary and miss the whole point of the show. It is sort of like the person you ask to read something you wrote and they start correcting your grammar and punctuation instead of reading the content and miss the whole story.

I have watched these documentaries over and over and come away with something new each time. I see a mother and daughter dynamics and their ability to adapt and entertain each other to survive all those years on very little money in the middle of the Hamptons with all the rich family around and no one comes to help.

I see a daughter who kept her dream alive by putting on performances day after day for thirty to forty years…can you imagine? And she finally got her dream to perform in New York.  Was she a famous singer then? No, but she finally after all those years of living in squalor was able to say she got to perform. And a mother who kept her daughter by her side by continually encouraging her to do these matinee performances in the house where they were recluses. The mother was almost 81 when she died and after she died, Little Edie left that house and moved to New York where she did get to do her  singing and dancing.

And yet, many people could not see that they were survivors, could not see their sense of humor, could not see their ability to adapt to some horrible conditions, .could not see that this was two women who came from times where servants did all the work and they were never taught to clean or take care of a home so did not have any comprehension on how to do it, could not see Little Edie’s unique sense of style that she created herself…they never looked past the first clips and saw the news reports and the pictures of a dilapidated house and trash. And they judged these two women and the documentary on that.

And so, I wonder-how often do we walk down the street and pass judgment and never look to see the real person. How many people on the street do you glance and walk past thinking they are strange or dirty and never look into their eyes and really see them. If we never take the time to look at people, we will not see anything but what is on the outside. We will not know that this person who seems so rude just lost a family member, or that person who rushes by really has lost their home. Or that this woman who recoils from you has been raped and is terrified, or another person is afraid to be alone. All these things make us who we are and yet we do not take the time to look for the person behind the facade and see that in others.

video by

How often do you speak to those you see? How often do you jump to judgment without even knowing why a person is behaving the way they are?  And if you say never….better go take stock again because we all have. We have all at some time in our lives looked at people and said “boy they are crazy” and the truth may be like the blog by my friend above…they are not. They just need a friend.

I have a friend that did that. I could be so sick that I could barely even lift my head or read on the computer laying here but would not tell those around me via internet, etc how sick I was and she would know. She would instinctively know by how I typed. She listened and she really cared. It was not fake concern. It was real listening and really caring about another person. It was truly wanting to know how they were.

And today people are so caught up in the busy busy world and never take the time to look at the people around them. I have had strangers when I reached out and touched their shoulder and said “I am so sorry you are hurting so. I am so sorry for your loss” and they asked me how I knew and my response was  “because I have been there.

We have to reach past ourselves and our troubles..that is how we get through them each day. If we reach out and help someone else, our troubles seem to dim and life seems a little brighter. But, if we focus only on “me, me, me” and portray ourselves constantly in a pitiful light, life seems so hopeless. It is a choice on what we choose to focus on.

If I want to inspire someone, I try to let them see me overcoming….not succumbing to my hurdles. I show them me fighting to keep going and crossing hurdles not me slumped in my power chair. I let them see me doing things I have not been able to do before I got the power chair, not all the things I can not do because I am in a power chair. And because of all these things I have been through…I pay attention to those around me and I notice the hurt and the pain others have and their joys and triumphs and I try to reach out to them because most of us know what those things feel like.

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