Then he’d look off some place in the distance… At something only he could see


Old Cowboy by HCui

Often in life we yearn for someone to know us, to be interested in who we are, to explore us and understand us. Sometimes it feels like an unrequited yearning.

Sometimes that which is unrequited is better that way. Unrequited love is a love which never dies because it is never truly born to life, it is permanently in gestation. It is a wish which we can wish forever and never regret having wished for it when it comes true and confronts us with the reality of a fulfilled dream.

Reality is so different from dreams, ideals, wishes and all that which is fed by our imagination. It is neither better nor worse, it’s just different.

“And he’d tell you a tale of the old days
When the country was wild all around”

There is only one person who knows me almost as well as I know myself. Sometimes that is intensely and deeply gratifying, and at other times it is unsettling and downright annoying as I can never get away with anything. Yet they know me well enough to let me get away with things too. So it is a beautiful paradox.

I know them well too. I took the time to get to know them, to explore their universe with interest, with the desire to know who they are and not who I want them to be for me, to not assume, or judge or any of those obstacles which we put in our path to know someone.

When you truly want to know someone, it is sometimes necessary to get out of your own way.

“Sit out under the stars of the Milky Way
And listen while the coyotes howl”

But so many people are in such a hurry to know someone else, to sum them up quickly and pop them into a category, labeled and ready for use.

We sometimes do that with ourselves too, because getting to know ourselves takes time too.

The use most required by us of others is for us to be interested in them, to be their witness and audience.

And sometimes the only reason they show any interest in us is to get us to be interested in them, but they don’t want us to label, categorise and box them for use, they want our interest to be a long and exhaustive one, and for us to believe and confirm everything they tell us about themselves.

They just seem to miss the smallprint of the interaction contract which points out that if we really do what they want us to do, chances are what we’ll find in our exploration of them won’t necessarily back up their version of themselves.

Frantz Fanon

If what you’re doing is trying to find an easy shortcut to get to know someone… There is no shortcut. It’s a long road made up of many steps and stops along the way.

Everyone is difficult to know because we are all complex beings. No one will ever truly understand us or anyone else, even we struggle with understanding ourselves… but that is a trait we all share in our journey through life.

“Said this is no place for an hombre like I am
In this new world of asphalt and steel”

And sometimes we meet someone who gets us, and we feel a moment of relief. We take off our boots, rub our feet, put them up and settle back for some one on one time, talking, sharing, being.

Yet there comes a time every now and then when even those who know us well, may not know us all that well.

Think of anyone whom you think you know well, and ask yourself how well do you actually know them.

Consider those times when they disappear into a distant place, they have a faraway look in their eyes, their body has an empty stillness, but you sense a great depth moving through them, and when you ask them what they’re thinking it takes them a while to return or they snap suddenly out of a trance and look confused, guilty or distressed.

“Then he’d look off some place in the distance
At something only he could see

Where were they? They’ll probably never tell you even if they pretend to do so. They’ll tell you something for your benefit, and for their benefit, to stop you from further questioning. They were somewhere private, a secret place with a huge no trespassing sign. It’s not for you, it’s just for them.

no trespassing

We all need our secret places. Those places where we can disappear to without saying a word when the world feels like it is no place for an hombre like us.

“One morning they searched his adobe
He disappeared without even a word”

*All quotes are from the lyrics of Coyotes by Don Edwards.