A woman in her late forties once confided in me, “The hardest thing about getting older,” she said. “Is that no one notices me anymore.” We talked about it for a few minutes. This really bothered her. When she was younger, people stopped in their tracks as she walked by. Heads turned and she knew it. She felt pretty. She felt alive. “Now,” she said, nervously laughing. “I’m just another face in the crowd.” This woman’s biggest fear was that she had faded into the colors of life’s backdrop. Just another lady. Nothing special here.
I don’t think her fear is unique. Young or old, attractive or not, don’t we all just want to be seen? Don’t we all just want to be heard? I think most of our problems can be traced to the fact that we don’t see each other—I mean really see each other.
In some cases, the results are tragic.
14-year old Middle-Tennessee boy Phillip Parker wasn’t seen. Oh, his classmates knew who he was. They saw him at school every day. But they never really saw him. Too many regarded him as “the gay boy.” He was teased, taunted, and tormented. Despite his incredible smile and outgoing personality, Phillip faded into the colors of life’s backdrop. He told his grandmother that it felt like he had a rock on his chest and he couldn’t breathe. Last week, Phillip took his own life. He left a note for his mother that read: “Please help me Mom.” Absolutely heartbreaking.
Imagine how much richer our lives could be if we weren’t so busy building canyons between ourselves. There’s no telling what Phillip may have grown up to do. There’s no telling how many lives he would have touched. Instead, there is only pain. The Parker’s have to bury their boy. And those who didn’t see him will probably look the other way.
I am so tired of people getting inflamed and digging moats around their beliefs. Let’s talk, share, relate.
~ Bob Kodzis
I am embarrassed at the thought of all the people I have come into contact with and never really saw. How much could they have enriched my life? How much could I have enriched theirs?
Moving forward, there is a better way. Let’s slip into the shoes of a woman who feels invisible. Let’s try on the clothes of a boy who feels there is no place for him here. Let’s leave the insane, entrenched positions to the politicians and try harder to hear each other. Let’s open our eyes and see each other—I mean really see each other.
You never know. In the end, the life we save may be our own.