I didn't mention that on my recent visit to see John Carroll the healer, he asked about the badly swollen knuckle on the third finger of my right hand. It's been an eyesore since my student days and something I've tried to ignore. Naturally, I was busy shrugging it off when John, with his usual directness, asked: "Who are you angry with? Who are you giving the finger?" No one could have been caught more off-guard.
Me? Giving the finger?
I'm sure I put on my thinking face while John went to work on the finger. And I began to realize (and admitted out loud) that I've felt different and uncomfortable with people for pretty much all of my life. Maybe a certain defensive attitude could come along with that, an attitude, it occurred to me, that it'd be hard to be aware of because of its pervasiveness, going from horizon to horizon, being simply the way things are.
It may have started when we moved just before Third Grade. I told myself that I was just a little bit smarter, more discreet and from a better family ... and that's just the light stuff. God forbid you should REJECT me. At that point, the chin nose and eyebrows would go up and my many reasons for being different (let's face it, for being better than you) are reduced to only one: You're obviously not capable of grasping who I am.
This is not taking into account the dreaded flip-side scenario in which I suddenly lose all self-confidence and am cast to the bottom of the heap, in fact under the heap, a terrifying situation to be avoided at all costs. You could see how a person with this paradigm of human relations could feel a little tense and the need to be armed with a finger to protect her position.
But for someone who professes to want to be on The Ellen Show and to have an audience of millions, the world view seems like it might be counter-productive.
In fact, for years I've been trying to get off my high horse.
So when we were invited to go to a rodeo the other night, I readily accepted the invitation. There were cowboys riding bucking broncos and even bucking bulls. It was riveting entertainment and my heart was in my throat with the excitement and the danger. And the people expertly lasso-ing heifer's hind legs while in mid-air for a matter of split seconds were exactly the kind of people I could see myself looking at down my long nose.
I'm hoping to keep my heart open. I'd like to think that that swollen knuckle is even looking a little smaller.