Monday, August 8, 2011

"Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness."

The full, lovely movie quote goes like this: "We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

As I lay C down the other night, I thought about how - already! - he has grown too big for my kisses. At least when he first arrives home. He's still too busy trying to find a way back outside (and most definitely not wanting to surrender to being indoors by taking his shoes off) to be concerned with me. But I can easily make him rush into my arms - squealing and laughing all the way - by threatening him with the classic "I'm gonna get youuuuu!"

The trouble I think some people have - and the weakness I myself and brought down by - is not really thinking about how quickly time really goes. That night, I was trying to "unwind" on the computer (duh, right?). I was paying bills and then the critical part of the DVD we were watching was playing. I grew impatient with C's grabby reach for M's water bottle, telling him "yours is right there! get it!", and then setting him off the couch firmly and dismissively, straining my ear to hear the movie. And even while I was doing so, I was thinking to myself "you can always watch this movie later - you own it."

The thing is, I tend to do this too often at home, with the people who matter most. I am sometimes around them more than I am with them. Call it an occupational hazard though I may (getting home at 7:00 and starting dinner and eating dinner and cramming in the first few minutes of truly "free" time all day, then doing bath/book/bed. . .), it smacks of self-justification.

I am here to bear witness to their lives! In order to do that, I have to be paying attention! Looking. Noticing. Interacting. Engaging.

Not that I'm an automaton droid. It's just that Time goes all too quickly.

The writing book I am working with this week says "So much of the loneliness of modern life comes because we no longer witness each other. Our lives are led as such velocity that we often feel - and are - quite alone."

I don't disagree. But (!) I posit that it doesn't HAVE to be that way. I believe we can resist that tendency and stem the tide of such learned loneliness. We can stop, pay attention, and make and maintain vital and meaningful connections with other people, with those around us.

Now, as I write this, my mind begins a mental survey of my own interpersonal relationships, an attempt to catalog precisely which ones have gone wrong, which ones disprove my theory. Many do.

The connections grow thin, and in the place of lengthy phone calls have crept terse, short emails and trite, machine-gun facebook commentary. Is it a symptom of the failure to be a good and proper witness? Or is it the root cause of our too-busy lifestyles? Or is it something else entirely? Something phasic, cyclical, seasonal? Something that the natural course of life just does to people?

Whatever the case may be with "friends," I refuse to let it happen with Family.

I exist in myself, in my family, with and among these people closest to me to be their witness. (My writing book author says I should also be my own witness - an idea I will have to spend some time exploring.) It is my job - my calling - to be a witness to my husband. To be a witness to my children. And to try harder to be a witness to my siblings and parents.

Our stories - our histories - our legacies live inside other people as much as they do inside ourselves. I am a walking witness to the crossroads, the intersections, the inroads others make as they crisscross my life.

I am living, breathing history.

And I want to make sure that historical record of my mind and of my heart is as complete and accurate as possible, so I can remember that I lived in the now. And that I loved.

Oh, I loved!

[Title quote is from "Shall We Dance"]

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