No doubt, this is a direct effect of my father-in-law’s dementia and recent passing. I was on what you’d call the “periphery” in that situation, as so many have felt compelled to remind me (even though I made no claims of a first degree affect), and having a role just on the outside gives you a unique perspective that often isn’t acknowledged. My pastor assured me that a periphery perspective is necessary and is usually appreciated in retrospect, whether other’s actively realize it or not. Whatever the case, I can safely tell you that supporting roles are as unglamorous in real life as they are in fiction, and often more difficult. I can’t count the number of times I bore silent witness, zipped up my own thoughts and observations, and swept my own issues that were obviously minor in the larger context under the rug. I can say from experience that you often feel lonely, and if you find one person that’s willing to look you in the eye and say “how are YOU doing?” then you gain a new appreciation for that person, because you have enough awareness to full well realize that they may be the only one to see past everything else and onto the sidelines.
It can be frustrating at times, but before you logout as a “oh no, this is a woe-is-me entry,” I’m here to say that it’s not a bad place to be, either. And, in fact, there are times when you seek the loneliness of that odd place you find yourself in. Why? Simply stated, grief is a shape-shifter that can wear the toughest of us down from any perspective, and the desert of the periphery gives you sanctuary to find where you, your perspective, and your wisdom plug in to a new reality. It shows you how bearing witness to the struggles and suffering of others fits you in with the world around you. It stretches you in new directions and opens your eyes not only to those right in front of you, but others on the sidelines and in the deserts of life. I know I’ve been surprised over the last couple of months not only as I write this novel, but how I’ve opened my eyes to things and people that I usually don’t see, and realizing how limited my own attention has been. It also gives you a place of your own to make sense of it all without pressures or complications. There's a simplicity in it. Sometimes you aren't looking to understand or put meaning to it all. Sometimes, you just want to be, so you can see how life flows around you and choose how and where you to rejoin the world as you know it.
And yes, my pastor was right. There are places where your unique perspective fits and is even appreciated. As with all things, you just have to wait for the right timing, and that timing usually comes when you least expect it. The spotlight isn’t always the place to be, and truthfully there are times when the people there probably envy the anonymity that you enjoy from the shadows in a supporting role. They do come to places where they wonder what they miss, and need you to show them. They need the comfort of somebody that can discern rational from imagined. Sometimes, it gives them strength to see you rolling right along with the world because they know that if you’re still alive and kicking, then they can be too – they can move on, and heal, and take one day at a time and build life in this new reality, because you’ve done it already and they see your path. I’m not talking about dragging them by the hair, kicking and screaming. I’m talking about being a living example. You never know who’s watching you quietly going about your day, and how it’s affecting them. Breakthroughs aren’t always big, loud things. Sometimes they’re the quiet revelations of the soul from the unlikeliest of places.
And sometimes, it’s those supporting roles that change your world. You never know. You may think your place, role, and opinion lacks merit, but it may be the very cornerstone of truth that the future is built on for more people than you realize. Just take a look around. How much would we miss if it weren’t for the ones that supported the great names and influences that got us to where we are in the world today?
You never know. That’s another thing that fiction and reality have in common. And it’s the thing that makes life most interesting.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.