verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Through the Lens...

It always happens around now.  The academic year ends and I say goodbye to some of my clients who will move on from here. No matter how right or how well the ending goes, it's still a hard transition, saying goodbye.  I mentally replay sessions and missed sessions, introductions and endings.  Goodbye happens over a period of time, beginning long before the final session and sometimes lingering long after.  I am finding this to be particularly true this year.

I live within many lifetimes in my work.  There is always the polite beginning of a new relationship--sometimes urgent, sometimes tentative--but I marvel at the client's courage to come inside to take this awkward and often difficult step.  I am both curious and cautious as I take my seat and meet someone for the first time.  I often imagine that if there were a way to hear both the inner dialogues as we face each other that first time, they would sound very much alike.  How does she seem?  what is she thinking?  does she think I'm weird?  how much do I say right now? is this safe? where is this conversation going? have I said too much? will we meet again?

As clients settle in and begin to reveal more of themselves, a resonance occurs within me that is familiar and binding.  It's not that our stories are the same.  They are not.  But the feeling of joy, or the feeling of loss, or the feeling of fear--these things we share and know.  As clients seek to find their most honest and authentic truths, I work to do the same--to participate and respond in the most honest and truthful form of my own self.  It's a mutual risk and reward to be exactly who you are in front of someone else.  We dare to show ourselves and find courage in acceptance.  It's sometimes hard to get there, yet what emerges is a tightly woven trust--a mutual recognition, a shared hope.

As time goes on, we criss-cross our way through what happened in the past, what might happen someday, and what is happening right now.  Sometimes my heart could break in these stories--sometimes it does.  Yet remarkably, what transcends these stories is not the heartbreak, but rather each client's very own striking resilience and tenacity.  I am touched by the stories people share, but I am even more profoundly moved by the ways people manage to cope and persevere. I have the greatest admiration for those I have known in this way.

I remind myself all through the year that I am with my clients for only a sliver of time, a cross section of their lives--and mine.  I am only one small part of many, many parts.  I try to see our relationship in that context.  Timely and important, impermanent and complete.  Nonetheless, a whole relationship occurs in that short space of time and goodbye signifies an inevitable turning point.  While I must let go of our week to week sessions, I hang on to what was significant. So many remarkable changes took place this year by people who are so, so quietly magnificent and unforgettable.  I am changed for the better by who they were and who they have become.  Such resonance will echo within me for a very long time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Knee Jerk

As my friend just pointed out to me, it's been two months since my last entry.  I chuckled when I remembered that my last post was titled Looking Up.  Well, while I was so busy looking up last month, I completely forgot about looking down and when Mercy suddenly lunged for An Extremely Important and Invisible Thing, I (being still attached to the leash while gazing at the stars for a long enough period of time to forget that we were actually out for the nighttime piddle) was jerked back towards earth, crashing down to the ground, and twisting my right knee enough to do some damage.  Alas, a trip to the ER yielded a pair of crutches along with a referral to the orthopedic surgeon for a possible torn whatchamacallit--a situation which I felt could wait until the semester ended, just two weeks later.  In spite of my knee discomfort, 'two weeks later' became 'three weeks plus one trip to Manhattan later' because, well, the title of this post says it all.

I became quite proficient with crutches, or perhaps more accurately, getting people to do things for me.  My boss brought me my coffee.  She and numerous other colleagues (I managed a whole fleet) carried my lunch plate AND cleaned it up in the dining hall.  Students ran ahead to open doors.  I had rides to and from work, door to door.  I got to sit wherever I wanted needed and lounge my leg in any direction that I wanted to claim as My Space.  Pat (a manly man with a beard and tattoo) carried my purse and my knitting when I needed to run errands. Meredith vacuumed the floors.  I gave directives. It was wonderful. It was quite a feat.

I am now in line for the MRI followed by the repair work.  With the semester now over I can take it a bit more easy.  I hope to resume my writing on a more regular basis--I have some things rattling 'round my head. And perhaps in between the cups of coffee I will now be pouring for myself, I need to work on teaching Mercy about The Art of Not Lunging (otherwise known as How to Avoid a Knee Jerk's Reaction).