Friday, October 14, 2016

the dark waters of special


I have a a contentious relationship with the word. It is the source of substantial suffering. While humans seek to be, feel, experience specialness, the very nature of the experience is isolating. 

It feels good to be special to someone. The small gestures of mindful awareness in relationship leaves us warm and fuzzy on the inside. Before my spouse moved to his current position, he would make a cup of coffee for me in the morning and place it by my side of the bed. I would come to, drink my coffee and chat with him before he left - his schedule more structured than mine allowed for this little moment of specialness. He leaves before sunrise now and doesn’t disturb me - no coffee. I miss it. 

Dig deeper into the experience of special though, and it starts to get dark and murky leaving warm and fuzzy behind. 

In our over-domesticated society, we teach that violence is rare and uncommon. It is only a part of war; making soldiers special (especially brave or especially heinous). When home invasions happen, robberies, rape, etc. the target of this violence is given special attention. We post condolences and support on Facebook for people we’ve never met. News broadcasts give an “average citizen” 15 minutes of fame when something bad happens. 

Overall, most of us live in a generally safe environment. This makes violence look and feel rare, and so when we encounter it directly or vicariously - it’s unique - special. Only, it isn’t. Violence is everywhere. If you eat a hamburger, the food in your belly was predicated by violence, killing. If you munch a carrot - it too comes to you by way of violence. Damn thing got ripped from the ground so you could enjoy the pleasure of eating the very thing keeping the plant alive. 

Swat the mosquito and you commit murder. But we don’t want to think about it that way and so, violence becomes this removed context of animalistic behavior that happens only to a select few, performed by even fewer uniquely heinous individuals. 

And special now takes on a dark and murky feel. Special can isolate you, deeply and harmfully isolating - violence being rare makes it special. I started coaching again after resigning from in-office practice because my schedule became too erratic for appropriate consistency for an office setting. Rory agreed to see what would happen if we offered coaching under the context of the Conflict Communication model and it didn’t take long before I had a client generated from this model. 

In all of my coaching clients at present, there is a common theme - the isolation of specialness. Violence comes in many packages and in each client, there is a particular version/package and each person carries the perspective of isolation and the darker side of specialness. 

Violence isn’t special. It happens all the time, every day. Nature and people use violence as a tool because it works. Violence has a context to it that is predictable (in a way) and follows identifiable patterns. 

But - we make it random and odd and rare. Then when someone experiences violence they face dark uncharted territory in the process of reorienting their reality and what tomorrow (and next year) might look like. And - they feel they are charting this foreign terrain alone. They are- as their own particular experience goes - but as humans go? This is not uncharted territory and we do not travel it alone. It is well-mapped and many of us have already traveled these lands.

How do we bring the context of violence back to the reality of it? And, how do we do this and simultaneously avoid minimizing/dismissing the intense individual experience of re-ordering reality after a violent encounter? 

It’s do-able. It’s also work. Diligent, often difficult work. 

Do we keep violence special because it’s easier? Has our lifestyles of convenience made us lazy enough that the hard work of reality has become so distasteful we are now allergic? 

I have my own answers - think - wonder - consider what your answers sound like.

Specialness comes at a price. 

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