17 July 2013
Its the small but obvious invisible little things that bring Life to life
Lying here in bed, which doubles as my study, business office, partial bathroom, dining area, and in general the place where I spend the predominance of my life anymore, I was idly thinking over local events and the similarities to my former life in the vertical world. I recognize that several of the CENA's here actually do like me. I can tell by the extras that can be seen in their communication. Most people don't realize there is more to communication than mere words. In fact those who study such things have found that using words only offers 22% of the activity of personal communication. Yep, less than one quarter of what we put out there is the stuff of dictionaries, our old high school English classes, all of those papers we had to produce, and the dreaded proper punctuation and approved written language formats we were continually cautioned to adhere to. Most of that was situational, driven by people who drew their paycheck by trying to enforce such restrictive styles on us. In many ways, they were successful – situationally.
In real life, that which we could hardly wait for, between classes in the hallway – we could relax talk with our friends, use slang to describe things, crack jokes, spread gossip, in short be real people, which we seemed to do natively without taking an assigned seat, raising one's hand and waiting (forever sometimes) to be acknowledged AND indoctrinated with those lifeless facts. Some people were always known for being able to always be there, bringing themselves more fully into the present and thus swaying others to interact with them. Sometimes this might even occur during class time, which usually didn't make them too very positive in the teacher's eyes.
When I was in college, while working on my Bachelors degree, I took an elective creative writing class. It was not related to any of the other classes as far as a declared major or minor was concerned. I was attracted by the title creative writing that attracted me so much. The first thing the instructor said was that we hadn't ever really learned to write truly as people actually are when they are being themselves, No we had been taught to use proper English as it is literally used, but very few people speak that way, what we had inadvertently learned was Engfish. Engfish, we were told, was a pseudo language that we learned for the purpose of writing papers to influence our teachers that we knew more than we actually did, and thereby get a better grade.
“It's insulting !” he bellowed in mock anger. “To your instructors it smacks of sucking up, much like a preadolescent speaking in the manner and stye of a Nobel Prize Winner while chewing gum and throwing in a few “ya knows' to move his presentation along. It speaks loudly of insincerity he sniffed while mocking disappointment.
The bulk of the intent of the class content was summed up in that demonstration/statement. Actors are better communicators than anyone, because they put everything into it. Tone of voice, pacing, inflection, accent, facial expression, filling the space with the whole of the body, gestures, coordinating all of this to come together in a complete package to deliver the entire message so there is no mistaking the content when it is delivered this way. If we had to continually add what we believed the content should be, or make accommodations for the actors, that minor bit of audience input separates us from losing ourselves to the story being presented.
Even a person delivering facts with none of the extra additions of fully being present comes across wooden and without presence, Al Gore is a good example here. Al seems to be a nice guy and he certainly knows his material, but coming close to the Pied Piper of Hamlin might be a stretch. If you want to convey and convince people there has to be a sense of someone there. Not very many people warm up to an encyclopedia or a text book very well.
Back to the CENA's; last night, just before the end of the second shift, one of the CENA staff who has taken care of me on several occasions, stopped by just before she was due off the floor. Every day as the CENA's come on to work and due to the fluctuating nature of the number of residents they have to work with, they divide the rooms (and thus the residents they will work with) so that the work load is not so lopsided. She had a few moments and every one was under control, so she stopped in to say hello, that she had seen me when I was up in the wheelchair earlier that day but she wasn't working with my part of the hallway so she couldn't stop to visit with me. She was really animated as she talked to me. She was concerned that I didn't feel that she was ignoring me. I assured her that I never considered that at all. At that point I realized that the were several CENA's who also could be standing in the same spot next to my bed saying exactly the same thing. They all exhibit similar characteristics. They bring themselves into the work they do, they make contact and don't give the impression that they are just doing their job. Some of the people here act as if they were afraid to show themselves in nearly every situation. Those are the ones who speak little, make minimal eye contact, seem to look right through you or just past you when they speak at you. These are the ones who take a message that you want some Excedrin for the headache you've got raging and thirty minutes later the nurse still hasn't arrived (the CENA 'forgot to deliver the message).That's when it gets aggravating being here, not able to do for myself what I have grown used to doing.
There are just enough events that impact me that are influenced by factors beyond my control, that can be really aggravating . It doesn't matter what I want or need, or even if I ask nicely or if I am told that the person will convey my my wishes or conduct the task needed in just a few minutes – if they are not fully here and make the commitment to follow through, I end up making excuses for them, accepting what ever reason they may give for not doing the task. Accepting mechanical apologies and being continually greathearted about continual non-accomplishment on the part of others wears at me. Its hard not to view such acts from a personal basis and begin viewing the whole thing as an affront.
It was delightful last night to see someone take the initiative on their own to make the contact with me because she really wanted to do so. I felt worthwhile and appreciated. These days, and around here this is a big deal.
This helps dealing with the institutionalized, dehumanizing conditions that seem to be built into places like this.