I was never the funny kid. I was never the smart kid. And nope, I was never the pretty girl either. Ok, but just a few times. Sure I have been told, by various and sundry people, at various and sundry times in my life, that I was one of those things, all of them, two of them, or just a few tweaks short of being the most important one.
My reaction to a compliment has always been based on how much the compliment-giver matters to me. Is this person a complete stranger? Are they someone I know, but don’t like? Their opinion means less in these instances. The nice part had less impact and I get the wary feeling that they want something from me. And keep in mind that when someone compliments you, it’s usually because you’re doing something for them, you’re making them feel a certain way and they like it and they want you to keep doing it; whether it’s making them laugh or causing them to think or making them feel tingly all over. If I don’t know them or don’t like them, the energy they’re giving me can’t really make an impact, because I’m not open to them, so it can’t really light me up.* Intellectually I get it, but on a visceral level, it’s kinda meh. Contrast that to the feeling I get when someone I deeply admired compliments me which is like a combination of finger-in-a-socket, fresh-baked waffle-cone smell, and falling into a pile of clothes fresh out of the dryer. (This is the part where I would talk about hearts and stars if we were having this discussion in 2009.)
And then you have to evaluate what you’re being complimented on; is it something beyond your control? People tell me I’m graceful, but I’m not sure how much of that “talent” is God-given and how much is a debt to my cruel ballet mistress. And how is it different? Which way would be better? Out of the womb graceful? Or years of rond de jambes graceful? I can hear my mother’s rant about people being BORN with talents that can be honed but are either present or absent, you either are or aren’t born to be a: singer, dancer, painter, writer. But I’m not so sure. I think that’s limiting and I think it causes a lot of already insecure people to give up before they’ve even started.
Anyway, long story short, you guys make me feel tingly all over. Never change. The end.
* Do not take this to mean I don’t appreciate, want, or need your compliments. Because it’s you we’re talking about. And I dig you. SO ALL OF THEM. RELINQUISH THEM NOW.
I wanted to write something for my mom today, obviously, and then remembered I had audio and that would do her more justice than me writing about her ever could. My mom was a singer, a musicologist, and chant scholar specializing in Gregorian chant, Hildegarde von Bingen in particular.
So I unearthed this CD that she had done with the chant choir she directed, and I’m going through the tracks trying to find just the right one. Mind you, I haven’t listened to this since she died. I have tried my best to avoid even thinking much about the whole mother subject since she died. I grew up around chant, and it’s beautiful, but it all kinda sounds very similar to me (sorry mom). But then, ten tracks in, there she is. Dear God. My mother’s voice comes ringing out at me, just her, I don’t have to try to find her there among the voices, it’s just her.
I can’t. That’s the only way to describe it. I can’t. I haven’t heard her voice in a year. And now I’m hearing it and the agony of hearing her mixed with the joy of loving her. It’s my mom! And she’s right here but not here but oh sweet Jesus I love her and miss her and miss her voice. And on top of all that I’m really, really proud to have been her daughter.