on this very first day of June, 2007, I choose the importance of sharing one’s self with others. As I set about saying my many “good-byes” this week to co-workers and others whom our paths crossed on a regular basis for the past ten months, I came face-to-face with the impact of sharing myself. This realization boiled down to this equation: the more I authentically share of myself with others = the more the other person shares of their self = the deeper the connection and/or dialogue, if even for brief periods of time = a richer life.
These past seven days have been filled with good-byes, some of them for just the summer since I plan on returning to this site for my final pre-doctoral internship year. But even those relationships will be different as I will be assigned different supervisors, my role will be different, the training cohort group will be different, and there will be new licensed staff members. And then there were the good-byes to those who are moving onto other jobs and locations – more permanent good-byes, if you will. There were good-byes with clients, some planning on returning to continue their work with me in the coming academic year and others unsure, graduating, or changing schools. Finally, there were good-byes with those people who have been in my life due to little things, BART riders who rode the same train at the same time that I traveled; the shuttle bus driver; the security guard at the SF library; and, two of the homeless people whom have befriended me and me them. There won’t be a shuttle service next year so I will be getting on and off of the BART at different stations so won’t be seeing some of the folks whom I’ve gotten to know.
This getting to know the other comes in many different shapes, sizes, depths, and layers. I know about the library security guard’s life, sort of; when he gets up and how far he lives from the BC, his family members’ names and ages, how long he’s worked as a security guard there (14 years); and, some other little tidbits about his life and political leanings (he’s torn between being a middle of the road liberal to being a bit conservative fiscally). I also know him from my observations (filtered through my life experience and judgments) – he’s a kind man who will let a homeless man sleep just a few minutes past when he’s mandated by the library to rouse them and that when he does wake them, he’s nice and sings a little morning jingle before he pronounces that their day must begin.
This man and I have never had what some might call a deep or meaningful conversation. But as I review the past ten months and the added texture and color to my mornings that he along with others (the Burger King employees where I stopped on a semi-regular basis to get a cup of joe, and the homeless people whom I came to recognize and several who were more than just a passing hello) – I would suggest a re-definition of meaningful. My interactions with these folks and theirs with me, meant something in my day – added a bit of a boost – a human connection – roused me on more than several occasions from a self-centered litany of self-absorbed worries.
I will miss them.
The good-byes with my co-workers were much sadder than I imagined especially since I didn’t imagine any sadness. But as I sat with my two supervisors and received my final performance evaluation for this academic year, each of us could feel the impact of our good-byes. I think this was because we had chosen to share of ourselves in meaningful ways throughout the year.
This was my first experience of feeling profoundly sad when leaving those I worked with in this field. I have felt the pang of taking leave of clients but that is a different story. The sadness that I felt yesterday and that lingers in my heart today is a good thing. The ache reminds me of the importance of human sharing and connection – my own and the receiving of others.
I will miss these people. Some I will see again at the end of the summer. Others I will not.
This morning I feel richer with knowing them because of the meaningful ways in which we shared of ourselves with the other.