Sunday, May 26, 2013

Two Faced

I am two faced, in the most literal sense of the word.

The right side of my face doesn't work, at least not very well.  Those who know me may know the full story, but basically my right facial nerve was severed and my face was reconstructed with one of my tongue nerves to preserve muscle tone and the possibility of preserved function, ie. a smile.   

The result is uncomfortable, tight, awkward and sometimes, downright ugly.

I have tried a lot of things to try to remove the pain and discomfort, to hide the awkwardness.  Acupuncture, chiropractic, massage- it all helps for a little while.  I've tried posturing, letting my left side (good side) face others so hopefully they wouldn't notice the disproportion or my twitching eye- but it is pretty hard to hide a shit show. 

Mainly I just recognize that this is something that is always going to be there.  I need to know how to work with it in all of its tightness and dysfunction.  I needed to stop pretending, stop hiding.  You can't be what others want you to be, you need to be willing to show your true face. 

When you look in a mirror (or the mirror of your mind) you only see the bad parts, your inadequacy and failure.  You need to look yourself right in the eye, that is the only way to save face.  If you speak from the heart with honesty and integrity, then even if people pick up on the awkwardness it doesn't matter, because they are looking you in the eye. 

Now for a story:
Awhile back, there was this cute, little old lady who used to come into my work.  She would always come in, chat me up, tell me what she was doing.  Then one day she said to me, "Why don't you ever smile for me?"

"I can't smile", I replied.

"Sure you can, everyone can smile."

"Not me."  I was just being honest, I can't fake a smile very well.

"Oh, come on, just a little one?"  At that moment, her granddaughter was looking at me with the right side of her face pinched in a half-cocked smile. 

I laughed.  Kids are so perceptive of this stuff.

"Oh that wasn't so bad, next time you can give me a full one," she replied.  Then I explained my situation, which kind of made her feel bad.  She left, apologizing and probably feeling pretty uncomfortable and awkward.

The next day she came in with an envelope.  She said, "Sorry about yesterday, but when I got home you reminded me of someone so I wanted to give you this," handing me the envelope she left.

I opened the envelope and inside was the picture of a young Elvis Presley with his half-cocked smile.

I smiled and laughed.  She was being generous.

That was Dolores.  She passed away a few years ago, shortly after this exchange actually.  We never know what people are hiding or what their future holds for them.  We can only hope that when the time comes, they show up with generosity, love and kindness.

So on this Memorial Day, I would like to thank all of you out there for your generosity, for the months, years or moments that you have committed yourself to serving the welfare of others.

We honor your service. 

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