When asked, “How are you?” I responded: “I’m in the center of the teeter totter.” Not up or down, I explained, just sitting in the middle.
That’s a bit of progress, though. We’re moving away from the pandemic and a long wet winter. This time of year everything seems like the Wizard of Oz land. Sonoma is effervescent, fastidiously groomed along with gooey ice-cream and wine.
There’s a new wave of social interaction. Conversations are picking up. There’s much on our minds. Though Sonoma is shimmering with frivolity and buzzing bees, we also have some challenges. We have losses and gains, and even peeking briefly at the news, something can be cataclysmic or sad. And so, this berserk world spins around while we also count our blessings or buy the next thingamajig.
Balancing listening and talking is an art. Social skills need tuning, after being masked and sequestered for a couple of years. So, we stumble over a wrong word in a text or chat… the trip of a tongue, oops. Maybe someone gossiped and we’re not sure if they meant to insult us or just had a migraine that day.
What I have learned in Sonoma is that a small town is like a family. It forces us to run into people we don’t know well, we’ve missed, judged, or feared. We have to face the ones that left us with question marks, like “What did they mean by what they said…?” Then our clever, paranoid brain makes up some story. We tell ourselves they are, indeed, weird or wonderful.
Then, with a brief, hesitant exchange at the post office, we find out their mother died this year or they fell off a ladder. Hmmm, we think, “They truly are just human,” doing their best, making mistakes. A lot like us.
It’s humbling at times to try to figure out how to interact with other humans. We try to use the round ball on top of our necks to figure it out. The cerebral cortex, with all its squiggles and curves, makes up stories about our social situations.
Life’s a constant learning curve. My dear mother had a way of questioning our lifestyles, our food choices, and the human condition. Here was her poetic conclusion:
I like them;
I’ve never found one I didn’t relish;
But sometimes they’re stale,
And I prefer fresh ones.
But whether they’re stale or fresh
Or hard or soft
Or tart or sweet
I like them.
They’re all made from the same ingredients;
They come in a marvelous assortment of sizes and shapes;
Even different colors!
They’re especially good for picnics or parties.
I’ll admit sometimes they make me sick
When they’re packed too tight
And get in a crummy mixed up mess.
But I like them – and you know
I think anyone can develop a taste for
Katy Byrne, MA, LMFT, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the Bay Area for over 35 years and author, The Power of Being Heard. Conversationswithkaty.com. 707.548.8982