Monday, December 1, 2014

Ellipses

My name is Crorey Lawton, and I am a mid-level bureaucrat with the Federal government.
This is not how it was supposed to be. This is not the dream.  Even when I started down this burrocratic pathway, I recognized that I was selling out; at least it seemed like that. Listen to how it sounded at first:
My name is Crorey Lawton, and I am a mid level bure‎aucrat....and I am finishing my dissertation in Maya archaeology.
See the difference? The first one has a sense of finality‎. The second has an ellipsis. Those three dots are so important to the ego. They define who we are in ways that let the dust mote scream to the universe.
So when I got ‎booted unceremoniously from the PhD program at Tulane, I could no longer use that ellipsis. I was surprised at how much I missed it. It let me tell people that there was more to me. That I was worthy of consideration. That I was of note.
Losing the dots was harder than losing the three letters I had hoped to put behind my name. I had lost an essential part of who I defined myself to be, and its loss was something that I mourned deeply.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the key to 'who we are' is held in those three dots. 
But....
But there is great joy, and even fun, in finding the ellipses in those around us.
Suzanne, a friend of mine, is a master at seeing the ellipsis in others.  She is a novelist, and so she is always looking at the cast of characters around her with an eye for what makes them unique. (Chicken/egg problem - does she see the unique, and is therefore a writer, or is it a developed tool?) So she speaks to the homeless guy outside her office, asking his opinion on last night's game, and the blossom of his personality opens like a flower under the sunlight of her questions.  
That, right there, is a magical moment.  He is no longer just the homeless guy.  Clyde is defined by his ellipsis, by those unspoken parts that make him special.
It makes me want to look carefully and see those around me in a different light.  That Tea Party co-worker that makes me grind my teeth every single day?  What does he do when he goes home?  Does he volunteer to coach little league?  Does he give every extra dime to feed kids at a foodbank?  Is he a novelist, or a closeted clarinetist?
The cashier.... the gas attendant at Costco.... the people around us all the time that we don't see.  What are their stories, and what are the pieces of their lives that make them special? Those who are closer have ellipses, too. 
Go, find out about somebody's ellipsis, because that is where their life is being lived. Finding that special-ness in others means that you get to share with them the wonder of who they are.
And it brings us closer together.  

1 comment:

NOJuju said...

Excellent post! What you're talking about is exactly why I love the Humans of New York website/FB page (https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork) so much. The photoblogger responsible for those pages also seeks out the ellipses in people and the reward is monumental. Every time I read one of Suzanne's updates, or a HONY update, I am reminded to seek out the ellipses in others. And in myself.