Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Take Note

This entry has nothing (directly) to do with the presidential debates.However, it has everything to do with how one is perceived when in the company of others -  and when one thinks they are not being watched, or heard. Today, everything is under a microscope. There isn't a move, a breath or a word that doesn't fall under the glare of some form of media, or that goes unnoticed, not only by steadfast friends but ardent critics. 

I mention this to remind you that no one is immune.

Lately, I have had texts and messages from friends who are just beginning their foray into the frozen tundra. While two are not new to skating and have been involved on the athlete side, they are now adjusting to the slightly ill-fitting and uncomfortable role of being "skate mom." Like an expensive costume, it takes a number of adjustments until it feels (somewhat) like something one can live with. The comments to me outlined not only what was happening on the ice, but in the stands. Unguarded snippets of conversation were overheard about other skaters, coaches and parents. There was discussion of body type and weight; who could do what jumps and what was "under-rotated." This was coming from parents of preliminary skaters. 

  I know that one blog isn't going to be a reason for behavior to stop, or even take a momentary pause. It is part of the fabric of who we are as people. We talk. We observe. And, yes, we gossip. It gives us something to do. For some, they use it it is used to establish their position of dominance within the "tribe." It is our nature.

But today, nothing goes unnoticed. There are virtually no secrets, no private conversations and particularly no subtle gestures, glances or physical stances that escape the eyes - or ears - from those who are merely casual and amused narrators to those whose existence seems to be defined by minutely reporting such things in great and somewhat lurid. There is no casual conversation anymore.It is all observed, scrutinized and reported in some form. 

You are not even safe in the bathroom. I have stood in many lines during an ice resurface overhearing conversations about my skater. I've sat in arenas next to strangers who have taken great pleasure in analyzing his every move, and have even made comments about our family. (Those are the most fun, particularly when I introduce myself and watch the display of 50 shades of red faces and a tumble of nonsensical words and shallow apologies.) 

All of this brings me back to the debates. The spoken word is powerful, but so is the unguarded one. The choreographed gesture is not as noticed, or reported, as the silent stance. When you step outside your private enclave, you step on stage and there is a spotlight just waiting to follow you. 

The cautionary words of a Stephen Sondheim song from "Into the Woods" drives home my point.
 How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen
Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes a spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you

Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

 Everyone is watching. Everyone is listening. As my actor grandfather was fond of saying, "There are no small parts, just small actors." Nothing goes unnoticed. Nothing.

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