“Everything cuts against the tide, when you’re by my side” -Jeff Tweedy
Tonight, after dinner, I bundled up Max and his best buddy Jake and we headed to the ice rink. It was the last game of the summer season of the Mullet League, one of the many “old guy” hockey leagues that play late in the evenings. We were there to see a couple of friends, guys who love the game so much so that they ignore the aches and pains of middle age and keep playing.
We were the only three people in the stands. Max and Jake waved their handmade signs and cheered whenever Dan or Pierre came on the ice. Max ran the length of the rink with his sign over his head whenever Dan touched the puck and carried it toward the goal. And when Pierre scored a goal, we looked at each other with glee and said, “Did you see that? I saw that! We were here to see him score!”
One of my greatest joys is being a witness.
Being the one who goes, to who stands beside, who watches with wonder and cries because it is so beautiful. Who cheers or bows her head or simply looks on and says, “yes… I see you are strong, gorgeous, smart, amazing, daring, brave”. I am at my happiest when I am standing beside someone I care about and simply being there while they do something brilliant, terrifying or heartbreakingly difficult. And I can wave and say I am here. I saw you do it. It is true and real.
I am teaching Max that 90% of being a part of a community is simply that, bearing witness to each other’s lives. Listening to each others stories with wonder and awe and compassion. Being there for each other as we bloom and wilt and breakdown only to breakthrough over and over again. Its not about doing the right thing, or saying the right thing but simply about being there–steadfast.
Being there seems to be my skill. In fact, I am beginning to believe its my purpose. To hold space, to witness. To see people, as they are–amazingly strong, utterly resilient, brave and bold and sometimes broken but unbelievably gorgeous in their being. To stand there and say, “I see you. I see your dreams, your fears. I see you, not the pretend plastic coating that you put on but you, with your messiness and your struggles and I love you. Its all going to be ok.”
Isn’t that why we all come here, this community of writers who come to bear witness to each other’s writing, lives, stories poured out on the page? We come to hold the space so something beautiful and healing and new and centering can be born. We take leaps, we soar, we sometimes fail, but above all we bear witness.
For you, who come here, or sit in my living room. For those of you who have commented, or who have held me while I cried, who played me music so I could dance or simple said, “I am here”. You are my witness to this messy and full life, spilling over with happiness and grief and fear. This is for you.