Saturday, August 29, 2009

How we see others

When I started this blog, I'd just stumbled on Emily Pronin's paper How We See Ourselves and How We See Others. Short version of some of what she had to say - when we judge others, all we have to go on is what we see and hear. When we judge ourselves we consider all of our thoughts, emotions, experience, and so on. We don't understand why they say and do the things they do. We don't know what they were thinking, what they really meant. So we tend to be harsher with others than with ourselves.

When I wrote that last post, everything I was feeling was saturated in the sense of loss. Jerry's gone. Lowell is gone. And those I loved, who I miss every day. Mother, best friend. That guy who was technically my husband, and truly my friend. Not to mention the father of my child.

While I was at Threadgill's earnestly discussing healthcare reform, it started raining. I ran out to my car to close my windows and as I was walking back, I was thinking about the Armadillo, which was right . . . over there. Just a few yards away from where I was walking just then.

The next night, as I was watching Jerry and Lowell on my laptop, it was one of those moments when a memory is so real for a little while that it's as if it is happening right now. Maybe it felt so real because just the night before I'd been standing in the same place. The same dirt, the grass, the pavement. Right there.

The stage at the Armadillo had an overhang in the front - it was about four feet off the floor and there was a space under the overhang about two or three feet wide. I used to crawl under it and then pop up right in front of the crowd, often resting my elbows on the stage itself as the band played. I rationalized that it wasn't totally rude since I was short, and small, so almost anyone could see over me, and I didn't take up much space.

Anyway, I remember being so close to both Jerry Garcia and Lowell George as they played that I could almost reach out and touch them. In my mind and my memory, they are still right there, in front of me, alive. Making music. Loud. And the music is vibrating all through me and I'm dancing and feeling just so damn lucky to be there, to feel the music they're making.

The losses, the deaths, of the last ten years of my life. Watching and remembering two musicians that I didn't know, but remembered fondly for how much fun they had rocking out and glad they shared it with me and everyone else who loved their music. And of course I can't watch them without thinking - they're gone now. And of course that led me to think of the ones close to me who are also gone now.

I started to write - isn't it strange that they're gone and I'm still here. The song that was in my head as I was writing wasn't a Grateful Dead song or a Little Feat song. It was James McMurtry's Just Us Kids

It's a damn short movie
How'd we ever get here?

Just us kids hangin' out today
Watchin' our long hair turnin' gray
Not so skinny maybe not so free
Not so many as we used to be

But I didn't write it. Because . . . it's so obvious.

Maybe it's not. We judge each other harshly because we don't see the things that are so obvious to them that they don't say them out loud.

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