Friday, June 19, 2009


I confess....that I often wonder what it like inside other people's heads.

I've referred before to the Gentle Giant on the T. I probably see him once a week. He clearly has a significant level of learning disability. He is also a very large black man. Tall and defensive-football player big. He likes to announce the stops with the automated voice. He likes to rock a bit. He sometimes asks if the train came from Braintree...this seems to be important to know. Today, he asked for a specific seat. The man very nicely gave it to him. A few weeks ago, he picked the wrong person to ask if the train came from Braintree and was ignored. He was very confused by this and didn't seem to knwo why the man wouldn't respond. He puts a hand on people (very least it looks gentle) before he speaks to them. Always a shoulder.

I wonder a lot about what it is like to be him. He looks very happy. What sense does he have of himself in relation to the world? I imagine he can tell he is "different" but how far does that go. And does he have any sense of how physically intimidating he might be to people? Does he know that putting a hand on the wrong person on the wrong day might be a disaster? Who helps care for him (I assume someone does)? Does he understand how being cared for makes him different? Are people mean to him often? What does he think/know when they are?

The Gentle Giant got me started this morning but I frankly often have similar musings about everyone else. They say you can't know a person till you walk a mile in his shoes. But we can never truly do that. How would the world change if we could? What would it be like to TRULY know what it is to be someone else? Would we want to? It seems like it would be amazing and yet overwhelming. Would it be depressing to find out that it is "better" being someone else? Or would it put your problems in perspective?

On the flipside...If you could show someone what it is like in your head, would you? I have my issues. And part of me wishes that others could understand them better...there is only so much you can put in words. Yet, there are parts I wouldn't wish for anyone else to have to face. And there is a part of me that wants to hold on to being me...the only me. If someone else was in my head, would I lose that?

Clearly next train ride I should just try to decide who has the cutest shoes. It would be much easier.

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