14 June, 2011
Front Row Seats
I recently had a fight with a family member. I left the exchange feeling invisible, misunderstood, and worse, judged. What made it even more difficult was that I recognized it was a pattern - something, sadly, I'd come to expect.
Needing to process my thoughts, I turned to a wise soul who, happily, lives two doors down. He listened to my story with the patience and presence of Buddha and nodded his understanding. Then he said something which rang so true for me it left me slack-jawed and deep in thought for days afterward. Intrigued yet?
"Some people aren't deserving of a front row seat to our lives."
When he said this phrase, he continued on with his other thoughts, but I found I couldn't move on. I just kept uttering that phrase, rolling it over and over on my tongue, liking the taste of it more and more. It was like I had been given a truffle.
In my mind's eye, I envisioned a theatre filled with blood red lush velvet chairs. The notion that I got to choose who got the front row seats was thrilling. It wasn't new, exactly, but more of a refreshed understanding - one that I had let slide a bit. I was at once aware of the fact that I hadn't taken inventory in a while. Did I know who occupied those seats? And were they there by invitation or out of a sense of entitlement or by default? Was there anyone squatting, assuming their front row seat was somehow a tenured position and couldn't be revoked?
The notion of "being deserving of a front row seat" underscored my belief in the privilege of intimacy. I have long-since believed that to share in the majesty, the mayhem and the magic of another person's life is an extremely privileged and sacred gift. It is by invitation only and must be treated with the utmost honor and respect, even in the heat of battle - especially in the heat of battle.
It is in the spirit of this philosophy that I will often say, "our children chose us" when describing how we came to be as a family. It's also because of this that I see "family" having not a lot to do with blood. I see each of those front row seats as a place of honor - not one of politics, "shoulds" or guilt.
To be honest, I'm still unpacking the full meaning of that phrase "deserving of a seat" and considering whom I wish to occupy those chosen spots in my life, but I offer you the concept to consider with this question:
Who do you wish to have seated in your front row - and are they there now?