Do People Really See You?

Steiner the minor tells me he is frustrated because he doesn’t feel like people are listening to him at school.

He says some don’t acknowledge him and act like he is not around.

I tell him that some people have the same personality as a cactus and that sometimes it takes a bit of time to figure out who they are so you can avoid their thorns.

We go back and forth and he tells me that he thinks I don’t really understand because I have a different sort of presence than he does.

I tell him I am not convinced it is true and explain that when I want to be noticed I make it happen. I am not sure if he understands what I am saying or if I am doing a good job of explaining it.

Chasing Ghosts Isn’t Profitable

Somewhere in the midst of our conversation I remember seeing in my stats that someone spent a lot of time reading Chasing Ghosts Isn’t Profitable and try to figure out how that post relates to the conversation.

“It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me”
Superman (It’s Not Easy)-Five For Fighting

It is the quote, it is the burning question of does Superman feel like an outsider who can never be a part of the ‘in crowd’ or any crowd.

It is my frustration with how little time prospective employers give to resumes and how I am certain they don’t see me or recognize how much I could do if given the chance.

It is the daily parade of memories that my cousin’s death brought about. Haven’t seen him in forever and now I won’t.

It is the recognition that I am decades older than he is and I still have these moments where I wonder if I am always going to be on the outside looking in, and if so, how am I supposed to advise him.

But then I remember that somewhere in the past I recognized I don’t need most people to really see me and that the only time I am truly bothered is when the people who mean something don’t get it.

Do People Really See You?

I show my son the picture of the man holding grapes and I tell him he is just as real and twice as sweet.

He rolls his eyes at me and tells me he is bothered by not knowing where he is going to go to high school.

I nod my head and promise to figure it out as soon as I can and then wonder how the simplest things in life got mucked up and turned upside down and inside out.

The Superman questions rattle and roll inside my head and I wonder where they’ll take me. Will I gain some magic insight by trying to figure out what might drive a fictional character and how they would respond to certain situations.

Are the answers going to make me a better father and better man?

Can I use them to help the people I want to see me do so?

I don’t have time to spend hours mulling it over so I move on the pedestrian chores of a father’s life and figure it won’t hurt to let the rest percolate in the back of my mind.

Midway through a trash run I wonder if maybe some of the people I want to see me really do and just don’t say so. I figure the simplest way to find out is to ask but I just don’t feel like it.

It is a short list but I suspect at least one person will refuse to answer and or try to dodge and this isn’t something to chase people about.

Especially when I tell Steiner the minor that you shouldn’t chase friends and promise that he’ll find his people in high school.

The Promises We Make

Part of me wonders why I would make a promise like that because I haven’t any control of it and it is possible I’ll be wrong.

But there is this voice inside my head that swears by it and so I go for it because gut instinct says it is going to happen.

I know that voice because it is the one that drives me to believe in the intangibles that life is made of. It is the one that says to trust in that which you can’t see because sometimes the inexplicable and improbable happens.

Back at the trashcan I remind myself that not only did I make a crazy promise I did so without knowing what school he would be at.

Midway through the walk back to the house I mutter something to myself about not being so hard on myself, especially when we have so much time between now and the start of high school.

Humphrey Bogart’s Lesson About Life

Everyone in the house is sleeping but I am wide awake, got way too many things pressing against the walls of my skull to shut it down for the night so I figure I might as well take advantage of the time.

I grab the dog and we go check the doors and windows and make a quick pass to confirm the siren song of electronics has not convinced the kids to stay awake long past bedtime.

Soft snoring confirms they are and we wander downstairs to sit in the dark and think.

I lie one the leather couch from my apartment in Texas and smile because this piece of furniture has meaning to me.

My intent isn’t to watch television but I turn it on anyway ‘cuz I am curious to see if there are any movies I should tape and I stumble across Casablanca.

It is my favorite movie and I cannot just walk away.

That is when it happens, there is an exchange between Rick and Victor Laszlo that wakes me up again.

Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who’s trying to convince himself of something he doesn’t believe in his heart.

This is why I made the promise to my son and why I am chasing a dream. I have given up trying to convince myself of things I don’t believe in because those lies kill our hearts and scar our souls.

I am done with that.

Do people really see me?

Maybe they do. Maybe the ones who are supposed to and the ones who need to do.

Maybe that includes those I want to and maybe it doesn’t but it is not my job to figure that part out.

My job is to focus on doing the things that help me be better father and make it possible for me to make those promises to my kids.

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  1. Tim Bonner May 22, 2015 at 3:36 am

    To most people in the outside world I’m invisible. I choose to be that way. It’s only when I want people to see me that I show myself. It’s been that way ever since I gave up work.

    I’ve never been one for wanting loads of attention. So it suits me. I can get on with things how I want to do them.

  2. Jens-Petter Berget May 21, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    I was like that as well. When I was a kid I didn’t think people did see me, so I’d do all sorts of things to get attention. But, I was told later on that people actually did see me, I just didn’t know what it was like to be seen (and I didn’t do anything about it).

    • Jack May 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

      I suspect that many of us don’t realize/recognize we are being ‘seen’ because no one says anything yet we all know from personal experience that silence doesn’t mean we are not noticed.

      • Danny Brown May 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm

        My wife is the worst for that. If I buy something on debit, 10 minutes later I get an email asking what I bought. We work in different cities, 50 miles apart. What the deuce, man?? 🙂

  3. Larry May 21, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I think your son is going to be very happy when it’s summer vacation. This school year seems to have been a tough one for him.

    • Jack May 22, 2015 at 10:52 am

      I don’t want to jinx anything, but the last week or two seems to have been a very good time for him. Feels like it is turning around, still I am sure he’ll be happy to start his summer break.

  4. Linda Roy May 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I’ve felt like others didn’t really see me all throughout my life. Particularly my family. I don’t think you can make others really get you or see you, either, but you can try. It’s always worth a try. And I understand that need to make promises to our children even if we aren’t sure they will come true. Giving them that sense of hope is important. This piece was so thought provoking and insightful as always. I really enjoy your writing.

    • Jack May 21, 2015 at 11:36 am

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for the compliment, I really appreciate it. I always enjoy your writing too, especially your recent posts about your adoption.

      It is important for people to feel like those who are important to them understand/appreciate them, but like you said many don’t totally get it. For me I am more interested in feeling like they tried than the question of whether they succeeded.

  5. Danny Brown May 21, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Hey there Jack,

    I remember when I was eight years old, and asking my schoolteacher a lot of questions. Like, a LOT. He said to me, “Boy, don’t you know children should be seen and not heard?”

    I retorted, “Well, how will we learn?”

    He answered, “By remaining quiet and not asking questions. Now, silence!”

    He sent a note home with me to advise my parents I was trouble. My grandfather was looking after me for a few days, as my folks were on a small vacation (yes, kids weren’t allowed, fun…).

    My grandfather was furious. But not at me.

    Next day, he came to my school and collared the teacher in front of the whole class. He pointed at us kids, sat on our chairs, and told the teacher, very calmly, “See these children? They are YOUR teacher. You are old, and set in your ways. They are the future, and full of wisdom we need to allow. Don’t dare tell any of these children to never ask questions again. I pay your wages. Earn them, or you will lose them.”

    I’ve never forgotten that. I think he’d like your take on who really sees us and which ones we should care about.

    Thanks for the thoughtful read, mate, and making me recall a major learning point in my life.

    • Jack May 21, 2015 at 11:31 am

      Hi Danny,

      The pizza man always tries to deliver. 😉

      I like your story about your grandfather. He was right and I think it is critical to not get trapped in tired old ways strictly because we are too lazy to fight inertia. Sometimes we have to push against the rock to confirm that how we do things still makes sense.

      I have no patience for people who aren’t willing to at least occasionally look at things and ask why.

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