Sansaku: Not My Normal Diet
When I worked at Timberline, the vacations wore me out. I tried to do too many things. It’s how I feel about my sister’s visit. I’m over-full with what we did and all we ate. I run better on lean.
But in spite of that, I’m grateful. She lets me step inside her life. I’ve never known anyone so transparent with her feelings. She’d make a lousy poker player, but does great stand-up.
I never have to guess how she feels about people or things. If it’s not obvious from her eyes and face, she’ll let you know in full detail. Her language is colorful and dramatic.
Not surprisingly, navigating her mind is like driving in heavy traffic. If you want to merge, you need to speed up and be ready to shift lanes fast. She rarely signals and often side-swipes with a story.
Normally I walk, but not with her.
I just happened to have listened to a TED talk a friend suggested. The speaker was an economist, and highly cognitive. He said, “I’m suspicious of stories.” My sister is just the opposite. She’s suspicious of people who don’t have a plethora of stories.
Trouble is, we’re in bad need of better stories. When I watch the news this is painfully clear. We have a terrible confusion around what is meaningful, what is not, and we can hardly discern the deep from the shallow.
Because Sheryll is such a character, she tells good stories. So do her kids. Her husband said, “You don’t just like characters, you breed them.” She wouldn’t deny it.
I don’t think all families encourage their kids to be characters, and I’m grateful I grew up in one that did. Not all places are character tolerant, but I worked at two that were, Timberline and the Counseling Center. Healthy forests are like that.
Stories and character go together. Why are we surprised that different characters tell different stories about the same things?
Sheryll and I can’t help but disclose our past, and we force the mythic characters from our family and history into dinner conversation.
Our brother enters the table talk and that’s as far as it gets. Right now he’s being an itinerant wizard down in New Zealand. He’s an obvious fit to the family, and the story gets told again and again.
When it comes to our mother and father, we don’t agree, but that’s not a problem. She knows we’re different. Don’t try to persuade her; she knows what she feels. Her husband learned the hard way not to argue. She doesn’t just go after content. She goes for the eyes.
For the most part, I get a pass. She doesn’t mind I wear my headband like a girl. She’s fierce in her loyalties. I’ve always felt well protected. She has a tongue she can use like a sword.
One time, playing golf down in Farmington, my sister was approached by a well-dressed man who pointed at me and said, “I wonder where he got that cap? I want to be sure I don’t go there.”
He had no way of knowing I was her brother. We don’t look alike and dress even further. She looked him up and down and said, in her most characteristic and wicked of ways, “Too late. I think you’ve already been there.”
She’s real, like a T-Rex, and maybe that’s why I’m so worn out and tired. I’ve been trying to keep up with her. That’s not my normal diet.