And So It Ends
It was a fun event last year–the annual Tea. My first, but undoubtedly not my last, I thought at the time. But I didn’t expect The Break. Didn’t see it coming, never would have predicted it would come–not while I lived here on this island Paradise.
Even Paradise has its problems. Some are major, some are small; some are ignorable, others are blatant and hard to block from view. Some come from my own worldview; others are imposed on me. Some are taken personally, though not too much so; others are just general nuisances. But it happens to each of us at one time or another. Either an established institution that we thought would last forever falls to time or circumstance, or we find a chink in the foundation that makes us wonder why we are part of it, even though the damage we see is minute. Somehow, to us it becomes a major stress fracture that overcomes all the beauty and goodness of the structure and focuses our minds on that single flaw. It’s not even that the flaw is the only one, or even the worst of the bunch. It simply is something that feels like coarse sandpaper heavily applied to a bare wrist; or an amplified screech of sharpened fingernails applied across an old slate blackboard that hurts the ears.
Recently, I talked about an error I had made–one that apparently percussed on several members of a group, not just on me. I tried to rectify the problem, but was clearly too late. My fault. I should have been more careful; I should have taken the time to do what I have told countless students and adult workshop participants to do: read carefully, and don’t take action on something assumed because a piece of writing was carelessly read and therefore misunderstood. But the response of the institution was as unexpected as it was unequivocal and, to me, horrifying. Horrifying because, in my perception, it was exclusionary and therefore discriminatory.
Above all else, exclusion and discrimination are abhorrent to me. OK. Maybe lying to me is worse, but the whole idea of judgement comes into play here. Just as I question, “Who am I to judge?” so I also question “Who are They to judge?” Especially since the They is only a small part of the whole of this particular unit. If the decision was put to a membership (a lower-case they) vote, and observation of similar decision-making is used to extrapolate, then they were barely listening as they practiced breaking up for the evening. It’s a time when no one is paying any attention to the speaker–they are saying their good-byes, or chatting with someone who came in late, or helping to clean up, or just busy organizing their own belongings. The mind of the they is no longer open for further discussion. Even those who hear are only half listening, and are not necessarily sure of the topic.
Thus it came to be that, although the institution remains, I no longer live there. A shame, really. I love this tiny institution. I love the charitable work of this institution. I am very fond of many of the they as well as most of the They. I created The Break. I will miss the best purely social gathering of the group, the annual Tea.
Yet, I think, I am not like them–neither the They nor the they. I am independent, and, although I am pretty much in tune with most of the cultural differences that are transcended to make up the group membership, I can’t say that I was ever one of them. I was an observer for a time. The time for observation is done. I no longer belong. My decision. My personal break. No time for tea…