Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Testing boundaries - measuring the human spirit

I was pondering today about all that Andrew has accomplished. All that he has lost in his struggles with his neurological disorder and all that he uncovers in the simplicity of his life.  The words came to me.. he just "is."  He has no past. He has no future. He only has today. The way his brain is wired he lives for what is "next"... be it lunch, dinner, going out, working, computer, bowling... whatever is in front of him is what his life is like NOW.  Being present for him is not a concept it is who he is.

In thinking about his life.. his disability and his abilities it came to me that he is a "conduit" a means to measure, a barometer of sorts of the measure of a person.  He cannot measure you by language, social banter, shared stories, memories or clothing styles, color of skin. He measures you by your inner worth.  His measuring skills are surgically sharp.   I have learned that he is usually right on.... dead on in his evaluations of people.

There are a handful of reality shows, which I admit I watch... Alone, Naked and Afraid... It is interesting to me that people measure themselves physically. What can I withstand. How hungry can I get, how fearful, how thirsty, cranky, tenacious. But you see its all about THEM. They are measuring themselves against themselves... there is no other measure but a self serving one. Can "I" endure. Can "I " survive.  Can I boast about MY feats, my tenacity.. Interestingly, although on the outside it seems to be self effacing, in fact it is quite self affirming. Not a bad thing, but I would have to broach the question what about ... integrity, compassion, tenacity for another, self sacrifice, kindness, empathy? How is that tested?

What I have seen as people come and go through our lives as "caregivers" that many  that have appeared on our doorstep as caregivers are in fact far removed from that premise of giving care.

Andrew has many facets of his personality that can be trying..he is noisy.. he is slow.. he is noncommunicative verbally, he needs help with just about everything.   What I have perceived over time that he brings out the very best or the very worst in the human spirit. If you are a giving compassionate person initially, you become more so after watching his struggles. If you are not a kind and caring person, it quickly becomes evident that those qualities that should enhance your compassion in fact brings out impatience, annoyance and neglect.

Andrew is in fact a wonderful judge of quality without ever saying a word, and I "LISTEN" to him. I listen to his eyes the way they gaze over someone, do they linger with interest, or are they darting, distant and furtive. For those who have gained his trust, he stares intently with his blue eyes locked on yours even fleetingly... it is a good sign you are in the trust club. Or for those who have not demonstrated patience or compassion, his glance is brief and/or nonexistent.

I learn something from him every day, and I have learned to listen to him nonverbally, watching his cues, observing his gaze. He tells me everything I need to know about people without ever saying a single word...  I am blessed that I am on his team...