"I want to know what you're thinking. Tell me everything," Samantha's character implored from the movie screen. And sitting there in the dark with just the rectangular light from HER, as if shone upon by a Golden Mean, I thought, "No way." And then wondered why I would withhold from anyone asking me such a thing. It dawned. It is that I cannot trust their unconditional positive acceptance. The listener would be shocked, horrified, dismayed, disappointed, or even disgusted that I was thinking this or that, perhaps, particularly if I were to haul up things from my rites of passage toward this, my seventh decade of life. We have our secrets. We have our private thoughts. We have our working things out that others do not have the privilege of knowing. "See, Icarus," they would say, as we fell from aspiring toward stardom on our wings with their bindings of wax, "I told you you were up to no good." But they do not see or are not necessarily there when one day we pilot the Concorde. "That Peter, always playing at planes; what a waste of time," someone unthinkingly may level at him, and then go away. And when Peter finally is airborne, he has just himself to congratulate. His naysayers are not there. His parents are no longer. His family is disassociated. His achievements are forgot.... "Tell me, what are you thinking?" How does one relate one's every abstraction, those ingredients headed in the present from the past toward some eventual product? Not all things are consciously managed. (And yes, my father did want to be a pilot.)
When the two women met there was much they could not, did not reveal. For 44 years of the younger one's life her very existence had been kept a secret. The older, the second wife of the younger one's father, had never been told. The father had been abandoned, some seven or eight months after the girl's birth from his in-between marriages. He was not permitted to see or contact the child by her mother, and by virtue or dint of circumstance and time and geography, the little girl grew up thinking her daddy dead. The father, having lost all contact, never revealed his paternity. He already had had three sons, and then later had a fourth, but not once did any of these boys know they had a sister. Not until she was 44. Not until her mother died. Not until she was told afterwards by her aunt that her father was still alive, and that she had some brothers. And only when an announcement came over Springbok Radio that she was looking for them did all get revealed. Well, not all. The older woman in the picture, above, the second wife of the father, was not told it was her husband's daughter; she was informed that the younger woman was a cousin, or some such thing. Her feelings were to be spared. People have instincts, have reasons. But it was not until the father's death, eighteen months after he and his daughter had been reunited, and even then perhaps a year later, that the older woman and her husband's daughter were able to sit together in the truth of their circumstances. And now, years later, as irony would have it, that daughter is part of the older woman's chief support systems. They were robbed of 40 odd years of knowing each other. Could they have handled the interim? Could the sons have handled the knowledge of their sister? Tell me. Would the truth have spoiled things?
"Tell me what you're thinking. I want to know everything."
Why do we demur? One person holds so very much power when they do not accept, integrate, allow for, have compassion, have patience with or tolerate another. It is necessary that there be a stickler in a twelve person jury. It is necessary that there be discourse over disagreement. It is necessary that there be truth when lies harm. We do not want Idi Amin to commit genocide without our knowledge. We do not want... We do not want people to know all about ourselves. We have privacy. We have secrets. We have closets. We have a past. We live in a state of great vulnerability; persons may forever hold us accountable for the record of that which we did when we were 12, or was it 17, or... "Tell me what you're thinking. I want to know everything."
"No way!" I think. Now tell me, will you hold that much against me too? Surely, acceptance is all.
A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that's designed to meet his every need.