Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Resilience

I told one lot of people I was interviewing last night that I had already been told to $@*& Off! once today already.
To be fair the chap was off his tree. G. Declares himself to be a brilliant mathematician (as he has done on a number of previous occasions) and then carries on about some circumstance where he is worried about someone else having an accident. "Four people died that way last year!"
When I at least tried to invite him to make some statistical analysis of that (seemed like a reasonable thing to ask a 'brilliant mathematician' to do), and also reflect on the fact that he was trying to seriously impede someone else's freedom (something he is not to keen on for himself)...well it was then that he stormed off and said the choice words.
It sort of shakes you, particularly that there are some people who you just can't (and won't ever) reach.
Contrast that with another visitor I had last week, a woman who camped for two nights on our property.  And who was also not well-balanced. Someone referred to her as a 'tramp', and I suppose in the 20s and 30s that is how she would have been pigeonholed. 
She did not particularly need me or anyone else to converse with as she was capable of having very animated conversation with herself.
My role in this situation? Just to try and be normal, I sort of think of myself as fixing a peg in order that a person who is floating may be able to grab on if even for a little while. Sometimes it is hard work, and it was with this woman. But there was a certain good humour about it.
She said things like...I like to sleep on church ground because the wicked men can't get me here. They attack a single woman.  
There was a sense of awful pain in her past.
 Then she didn't think it was better to sleep in the church, rather than outside. That wouldn't be right...She was happy to stay as long as you don't call the doctors or the police...I assured her there was no need to do this. Though there was a temptation to think that maybe this would be the short-circuit to dealing with this situation
Any way there many things...and I was happy to try and present a safe haven for just a couple of days.
She was not dissimilar in the degree of disorientation to G and there was an edge that indicated that things could go pear-shaped. As it turned out she came and went, left a note thanking me for letting her use the church (which is normally open). 
She made choices about where she would live, and they were not what most 'doctors and police' would think should be done (hence her reluctance to deal with them I suspect), but really her life worked quite well.
I was drawn to thinking that it was sort of like the aboriginal people who chose to camp outside rather than live in some Housing Trust accommodation. Her life worked well, though not what authority figures (doctors, police and clergy) might suggest.
There are lots of people like this around.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As usual you are absolutely right Stephen. And clearly we normal people are well on the way to extinction. The onus is on us to hang in however we can for as long as we can. Selah.

stephen clark said...

I am not particularly lauding myself as normal...I don't claim that particular distinction. Don't even like it as an appellation.
I would like to widen the definition of things like 'normal'...the lady (and she was both a lady and a woman) who is referred to in this post...had fairly reasonable lifestyle and rationale. I wouldn't like or choose to live as she does. And some would say it was unacceptable, and want to lock her away. (that's why she didn't like doctors and police!)
We often want to lock prpoblemsa away.