The Eyes of Love
I was working with a client recently who was trying to write an essay about her experience with patients who were beginning to experience the memory loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. She’s a pretty skilled writer, but she still struggling a bit to portray these men and women in a way that served the story. The problem, I soon realized, was she was taking pity on them.
Perfectly understandable, of course. She’s a thoughtful and very compassionate young woman. In fact, the story she was trying to tell revolved around how difficult it was to administer a memory test to these people, how bad she felt when they became frustrated or despaired from all the questions they got wrong. She had nothing but sympathy for their conspicuous plight, could not – in fact did not want to image herself in their position.
And yet I’ve learned after much trial and error that to portray someone accurately I can’t take pity on them. Nor can I lionize or celebrate them, criticize or ridicule them. As best I can, I must render them without judgment of any kind, good or bad. Whoever they are and whatever they’re doing must be in my writer’s eye as the world is to a camera lens. While I may never be able to achieve the camera’s deathless neutrality, I give the reader a chance to draw their own conclusions if I let my subject simply be.
I try to apply this same technique with the people I meet and know. Not so easy then. Now the things these people do and say seem to affect me; they can bore me or excite me, frustrate or inspire me. I always want to be excited or inspired, want to feel friendly and interested. But writing has taught me I will find what I want quickest within myself. The same, I know, must be true for all those other people I want to entertain me or be nice to me. To behold them without judgment, for even a moment, is to look up on them with the eyes of love, which never wants anyone to be anything other than exactly what they are.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com