I watched a movie on Netflix recently with a stellar tagline:
You’re different. Sooner or later, Different scares people.
Ben Affleck plays the part of a boy called Christian Wolff, who has high-functioning autism. His way of being, perceiving and reacting to the world around him is undoubtedly Different. With his attention to detail and capacity to function in society, Christian becomes an adult who makes his living ‘uncooking’ the books of dangerous criminal organisations around the world.
Whether a witch, warlock, occult spirit-worker, lightworker, darkworker, sorcerer, demonolator, whatever-your-label, we are also Different. And sooner or later, a time will come when you’ll see Different scares people.
I experience Different daily. Physically, I look Different. This means, people treat me Different and so I constantly see things from the perspective of Different. Even so, I started out thinking I wasn’t different at all.
I didn’t know it was odd to have parents who didn’t work. Living in an evangelical missionary family, I thought it was normal for people to be 24/7 in service to an unseen power, who guided pretty much everything in life. My father was a powerful and unconscious sorcerer his whole life. I have been schooled well.
It was normal for us to get over $6000 to fly Bangkok-Sydney within 3 days based on a prayer. My mother was just as likely to take me to a congregation who prayed for healing hands-on style, as she was to argue with my father to go to the local tribal witchdoctor for much the same outcome. Different means expectations change.
By the late 70s when I was back in a suburban Australian culture, at 10 years old, I couldn’t understood really simple social things. Like, how the neighbourhood garbage would all disappear on the same day of the week.
Whether you like it or not, the day will come when Different stands obvious, plain and naked and some people in your life will be scared. Some will cut your contract (friendship), some will ‘step back’, while others use a slightly more active strategies (gossip, lies or exclusion etc). Different means assumptions change.
I make a new friend ‘Julie’. She is taking steps to move away from an abusive landlord while facing the possibility of redundancy at her job. She was looking for support and a sounding-board. As friendships go over time, I tentatively share some of my life experiences.
Julie texts me unexpectedly one morning. She feels frightened and says she wants to step back from our friendship. Different scares people.
An elderly female neighbour, confides in me her ongoing discomfort with our unpredictable building manager, ‘Norman’. Broken windscreen wipers, malicious gossip, and a general growing sense of malevolence. I deliberately make light of it and divert her with a flippant reference to the single mature women who cast spells throughout history.
‘You know those powerful women we call ‘witches’? If you get yourself some black salt you’ll sort him out.’
She gently scoffs and changes the subject.
Of course, by now I have enacted sorcery on him. I have my own observations, and have heard his threats of violence towards other female neighbours. A fortnight later, I get a text from her late one night:
What magic did you do?
Norman not on committee but I am!
While Norman was removed from the building committee, she has been elected. Her shock lay in the fact, she wasn’t even at the meeting.
Now she seems nervous around me. I am no longer her confidant as before. Different scares people.
One night I woke startled as my cat jumped onto my chest, her eyes wild wide and shaking. Simultaneously I heard the sound of something dropping heavily in the car-park outside. Like a bag of wet cement. In that instant I knew death had landed outside.
This time, I reluctantly pulled on a pair of jeans and went outside. I knew already what I would find there.
When someone jumps from the 12-floor apartment building where I live, they land outside my front door. This was the newly deceased body of a 30-something year old woman. She was agitated and quickly becoming distraught.
Hey, hey, settle down.
She was trying to tug at her own body which no longer responded.
You silly silly duffer! What have you gone and done?
She looked over at me.
You’re dead dearheart. You can’t fix this one. I’m sorry. But I’ll stay with you for a little while now.
So I sat in the 3am cold with this newly dead stranger until she calmed down and understood what had happened. I’ve never told anyone about this night. Different scares people.
While Different eventually scares people, like Christian Wolff, it’s also possible to take control and use Different. In the story line, Christian uses Different to create a service for others like himself, to purchase things that sustain his life and further his skills.
Like him, I choose to use Different to further my own game plan. To me, it’s important to notice Different and acknowledge the privilege and power it offers.
As a colleague shares a story of his weekend, I’m noticing the demonic in the room with a different version. Later that week, another colleague tells me I am too passive and criticises me for not speaking up. I struggle to hear both his voice and the demonic who warns me of his impending illness and of things to come.
Different is uncomfortable.
When you find Different in your Fools Sack, unpack, explore. Hold onto the power of Different – it’s distinctly inconvenient and magnificently subversive!
Today I am acutely aware of my responsibility to act judiciously and weigh the scales before speaking. These days, with the demonic whispering in my ears, I treasure Different.
26 November 2017