She could see into my soul
Said she'd been watching and had some advice
She said shadows make you whole
A life without pain is a wolf in sheep's clothes
Because if you listen to the lessons that it holds
You'll find the gold
You will come across people in your life who are able to read you like a book and you would've only just met them. I'm in Hamilton at the moment preparing some work for tomorrow's meeting with a principal and some of her staff members. I got into a taxi at the airport and started chatting with the driver. The topic of conversation took its usual scenic tour of the weather, where I'm from, what am I doing here, do I have children. That's always a tough question to answer. Those of us without children don't know what life is like with them, but we make great aunts. Instead I shifted the attention to no, but I'm a widow.
Child it's time to break the shell
Life's gonna hurt but it's meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself
You cannot fly until you break the shell
Her whole demeanour changed and then the conversation much like the turns in the road ahead, morphed into probably one of the best conversations I've had with a taxi driver (my Dad used to be one, he doesn't count, besides that would be biased). The small talk questions took on a life of its own and she started sharing about her own tragic experiences with death. She even started talking about God, but went on to say that well, it didn't matter if God existed or not, if there is a god or not, but that there is definitely something higher, a supreme being that we have that watches over us.
I think what amazed me was the fact that I didn't know this lady, apart from glancing at her photo ID that was prominently displayed above the meter. Her photo smiled back at me and it seemed to match the musical sound of her voice as she was obviously warming to the topic, despite the tragic nature of the conversation.
Courage is not about being hard
It's time to peel back all of the layers
You put between who You're meant to be
And who You are
And go be who You are
I wondered to myself, why is she sharing so much of herself with me? She was a stranger to me, yet she seemed to open herself to me more than some of my own family members or people I had known for a long period of time. She got so comfortable with me that she would turn in her seat from time to time to look at me while we chatted. I didn't think that was such a good idea, to turn around I mean, and talk to me while she was supposed to keep her eyes on the road. I didn't say anything, just nodded and smiled back at her. She talked about her son who committed suicide six years ago. Her son in law was tragically killed in a helicopter accident fifteen years earlier. My heartstrings pulled. I couldn't understand how to process such a thing - losing a son in law who left behind her daughter and young children, as well as her son who she suspected suffered from depression, but was undiagnosed.
So much disappointment to finally understand
That there is no such thing as perfect
We're all simply doing the best that we can
And we have a choice to live or truly be alive
She talked in the last five minutes of our journey about the need to make the most of our time, because we didn't know how much longer we would have in this earth. I was touched by her willingness to share the imperfections of life that had hit her, the kind of life that had been washed in tragedy and melancholy. She talked about her younger sister who would make trite comments about people needing to move on and get on with life. I told her, wow, she doesn't understand what you're going through. She said. exactly quite emphatically and nodded at me in the rear view mirror.
I could feel the waves of disappointment wash over me too then, much like I know she would've felt from people around her who would've instead of offering support and comfort ,would've said some really dumb things (although well-intentioned, would've just sounded stupid to our ears).
It can be painful at times to be treated with kid gloves, yet you respect the delicate approach that people take to try and handle you respectfully. When our journey ended, she handed me my bag and smiled at me. She wished me all the best for the meeting and said it was lovely talking to me.
I hope that parts of my shell are already broken. Certain people get to see the real me and it's been a long process, because for the most part I've felt like a performing parrot or monkey doing other people's bidding. So enough of being a shell of my former self, I guess that taxi ride was a welcome distraction from the problems that life can throw your way, but I'm kind of glad that the taxi driver served to remind me that it's ok for me to be real now and again. I don't have to hide behind the shell, especially when it's time to dust myself off, pick myself up off the ground and break the shell. . .
Do with these words what you will
It's time for us to be real
You'll be stuck on the ground until
You finally break the shell. . .