Hide and Seek

There were just three issues of Rejoice last year, and only nine the year before that.  So far this year I have penned seven. A poor effort! Beyond difficulties with the keyboard and other small hindrances lies a simple admission: I don’t know what to say.

A couple of years back, when “B4” was my transport, Little One (who, having now turned 15, and having ceased being little, I shall now call Teen Girl) and I spent a great many happy afternoons playing various power wheelchair games in our sheltered little cul-de-sac. As a student in a Special School, there is little about driving a wheelchair that my daughter doesn’t know. We played Powerchair Tip most often, and then Duck Duck Goose, Marco Polo, Hide and Seek, and several games with spectacularly complex and wildly variable rules which I suspect Teen Girl made up on the fly. Wheelchair Macro Polo is wacky enough, but Hide and Seek was our strangest game by far, principally because hiding anything in a bitumen cul-de-sac is a challenge, let alone a power chair and teen aged occupant. In fact in our dead end road (and how perfect is it that we should have our very own safe, secluded and wide stretch of tar on which to play?) there is just one spot that could be construed as a hidey-hole: a largish, wayward bunch of gum leaves on a single drooping branch that overshoots the kerb. Every time we played, this is where she hid. Every single time.

In this shot you could almost miss Teen Girl Hiding ....

In this shot you could almost miss Teen Girl Hiding ….

I played my part to the full, of course. I would ‘beep’ my wheelchair horn for the required twenty counts, end with a long ‘coming ready or not’ toot. I then headed off in the opposite direction, feigning complete bewilderment, ignoring the rustling and giggling while I scour the empty road for any sign of life, visually inspecting all the kerb and guttering, until at last she feels compelled to send me a clue; a little mimicked bird call perhaps. On very cheeky days it might be a loud burp … or something worse. But gosh, I still couldn’t see her!  Even when I am just six feet away I remained completely puzzled.  She calls out, yells out, “You can’t see me!” to shrieks of laughter. She is still invisible. There is not a skerrick of doubt in her mind, I’m sure; she is supremely confident in her camouflage. And then I would at long last drive around behind the hanging frond and – goodness me – there she is! The innocence of this repetitious game was sheer delight.  The whole thing could be repeated two or three times in one afternoon and then again the next, and the next.

.... but not here!

…. but not here!

Not for the first time, my daughter’s innocence illuminates my world: who and what I am is starkly on display, but not to me! A revealing feature of our anatomy is that we are physically unable to gaze at ourselves; even a mirror reverses the image that others behold. Instead we might go about looking for reflections of ourselves, hoping to catch a glimpse in the words of others, or in the face and eyes of a friend. But to truly see ourselves the conversation must be deepened. Relationship is the only avenue of self discovery. Am I willing to be seen, or will I hide behind a bunch of gum leaves?

A willingness to be found by others is necessary to ward off isolation; of which I am increasingly aware.  My sense is that remaining hidden confines us to a small patch of our own self-understanding, and this is bound to become stale, repetitive and in the end negative. Whenever I penned an essay for Rejoice I would discover a degree of clarity within, and the space I occupy would feel wider. If a reader or three were to reply, so much the better.

And that’s why I am going to try hard, once again, to write more.  Knowing that  a reader will take seriously what I write makes all the difference.  It makes every word a challenge to produce, it makes me read, read again, re-read, edit, read, leave it a few days, read it a few more times, always with the question: is it true? Tomorrow night I will be on a train – a train! – again! – retracing the lengthy trip I took last year to visit my grandsons in Queensland. So I will post a report on my journey. I hope you’ll join me.

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Rejoice!

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Drop me a line while I travel …


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