Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Turning Away

From birth, we need interaction to feel alive. We love, we fight, we laugh, we cry. Anger elicits a response and screams “I see you”, and affection does the same. The feeling evoked by a kind word or affectionate touch makes us feel good. In battle, our emotions are heightened and we are fully engaged in the process. But what about the absence of response? How does it feel to reach out to someone and get nothing back? Is anything more damaging than the long road of silence? We see this in Pages in the Wind, as Emily reaches out to her mother to show her artwork, which goes unnoticed:

I waited out of eyes-reach to watch her walk down the hallway to see my picture. The first few times she didn’t notice it, so I continued to wait for her to pass the picture again. An hour or so later, she stopped and looked at the picture. My heart raced, and my spirit soared knowing my life could change. The excitement was overwhelming and I wanted to jump out and shout “I did that!” I stepped out of my hiding place and slowly entered the hallway waiting for mother to praise my drawing. She turned and saw me.

“Emily, do you have your suitcase ready? Dad wants to pack the car; we’re leaving right after lunch.”

I felt my body being pulled downward, like a slow leak from a balloon. Once high and exuberant, releasing the air makes it shrivel to an unrecognizable mass. That is how I felt, like the air was being released from my body and I was being pulled downward. I managed to nod to mother that my suitcase was packed, and headed to the kitchen for one last lunch with Grandma.

When Emily put her artwork up, her hopes were to win the admiration and attention of her mother. The slight was unintentional, but the result was the same. Her mother turning away left her feeling empty and reinforced her feelings of inferiority. One of the most damaging elements of turning away is the silence. Silence walks us down the path to our imagination, which can draw conclusions that are far worse than the intent of the silence. Young Emily continues to draw, but she tucks the artwork in a box and never shares it with her family again. That art will become an important part of this mystery later in the story.

I wonder, do you remember an incident in your life when you felt the sting of silence? How did it make you feel?