Your right and left hands are no longer attached

fictionalized truth*, unsent letter to my sleeping giant (2004).

Dear Sleeping Giant,

The systems on—the mic is set to unity. I hear your booming laugh. I smile. For a moment, I sit on the stairs carpeted in red. Your voice sooths me as you ramble on. Closing my eyes, I lean back and listen. Certain truths I find in what you have to say. Rising, I slip out the back unnoticed.

I see you in the hallway. Your arms are stretched wide with warm welcome. Stepping forward, I am embraced. I do not fear being crushed. I smile and feel safe. I laugh. You move on and offer the same to others. That hurts a little but I know it is right.

And I wonder…is it not enough to be loved? If we each are loved and valued, why do we need to feel special? Why do I need to feel special? And not just special but MORE special than X or Y. Why did the chicken cross the road? Pecking order! Why is there a pecking order? Why do I find myself trying to advance within this order?

This gets me to think-ing about the big “G”.

You know, God. I think about God, my family, the community of which I am a part, and chickens. I look at my life and consider whom I have been pecking in an attempt at better placement. I want to learn to be loved and valued without having to be one up from the next guy—no pecking. Of course this is much easier said than done. Peck! Peck!

You visit me in my office. The chair is dwarfed by your size, sags with your weight. You look at me and I know that you love me. I do not feel small. I look down. There is something swallowed up in your hands. Gently you open them. I see there is a gift. It is for me. I am afraid but tremble with anticipation. I pluck it from your hands and turn it about. I laugh in delight. Thank you. Thank you so much. Quietly you leave. I notice that you are gone.

I feel the walls of the building rumble. It is right. I know without looking that you have been gently shaking the pillars again—questioning the structure and integrity of the site. I smile. For fifty years these pillars have held fast. The structure and integrity not questioned. The people murmur. I laugh. The sound grows. They are angry. They attack you. You speak with love to your enemy. They devour you.

You climb out of the pit. You stand. You are not so tall.

Your allies speak platitudes to you. Truth moves far away. Your strengths become your weakness. Workers leave. Wounds are deep. You are tired. You wreck your car. You wreck it again. Your back hurts. You lay flat. It is hard to stay still. You stand up. I see the weight sways you. The pillars close in. They limit your range of motion. You try to shake them. The movement is slight. The questions of structure and integrity are whispered. The angry people are louder. They attack you. Who is your ally; who is your enemy? Your voice is small. I am sad.

Things get disconnected. Your right and left hands are no longer attached.

You visit my office. The chair is still dwarfed by your size. Your eyes are red. You are sad and tired. You look
at me and I see that you love me. I am not afraid. You ask me about my life. You ask me about my mate. I say private things. I see tears in your eyes. I am not afraid. I trust you.

You trudge up the stairs. My mate is ravaged. My words used as weapons. I do not see. I do not know. My mate weeps. Who is shaking the pillars? Where are the questions? I am so ashamed of my words. I cry.

The harder you try to disentangle the more tangled you become. You lean more and more on your strengths; they become greater and greater weaknesses. The angry people gather around you. Are they your enemy or ally? They gnaw at your feet. It is a long drop from such a height. They gobble you up. They vomit you out. You smell bad. You struggle to your knees. You are not so tall.

And I wonder…where my strengths are, is that too where my brokenness lies. If I overuse my strengths, do they become my weaknesses? I look around and see this in those I know and love. Behind each I see a wake of damage caused by their over reliance on their talents. If those I know do this, even sleeping giants, than I to must do it. What are my strengths? How do I abuse them? Where is the balance? Can my strengths not be my downfall?
And what of truth? Who do I give permission to speak truth to me about how I live? Can I find balance without truth being spoken? No platitudes please. Speak truth to me even if it
hurts. If I cry, tell me the truth anyway.
Will you be my ally?

I am so ashamed of my words. I weep.
Who is shaking the pillars? The pillars need to be shaken and the questions asked. I work hard. I work harder. Can you stand up? You stay so busy. Your ability to distinguish ally from enemy is lost. Your left hand gives me a raise. Your right hand retracts it with expectations of repayment. This should not matter. I do what I think is right. I stay. I work harder. I try not to be angry. You do not know. I grow angry. I suppress it.

I see you sway forward on your knees. Are you falling? Again? Ever so slowly I see you descend to the dirt. The dust is kicked up. The tears roll silently down my face. I hurt. I am ashamed. I do not extend my arm to help. I see you lying there. Are you asleep? I look down at you but the light has drifted from your eyes, in its place is a reflection of me. Where have you gone? The pillars no longer shake. The questions are mute.

I pull my car into the parking lot. You lean out of your car window and suggest I park differently. Why? Looks fine to me. I see you are with someone. I will not comment. I leave. I am angry.
I have hurt you. I have embarrassed you. I am insubordinate. You hurt. You are very, very angry. You yell. Things get disconnected. I am your ally. I am your enemy. I cry. You cry. Your right and left hands are no longer attached. You are afraid. You are alone. You are not so tall.

I visit your office. Your chair dwarfs you. Your hands stay locked at your sides. Frozen is your face. I see no smile. I hear no laugh. I step to the side. You do not rise to block my way. I still have your gift. It is in my pocket. I do not want to give it back. You do not ask for it. I leave.

I hear silence. This makes me sad. 2004.

fictionalized truth=a way to openly write about real experiences without the need to tell the whole story from each person’s perspective and all the baggage of understanding and rationales to the whys and what fors, giving the author the freedom to speak only to their own lived experiences.