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Sooner or later

I saw 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. 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 organizations around the world. His natural way of being, perceiving and reacting to the world around him is undoubtedly Different.

Whether a witch, warlockoccult 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 have heaps of experience with Different and I experience Different daily. Physically, I look very 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. As an MK (missionary-kid) I thought it was normal for people to be 24/7 in service to an unseen power, who directed and governed pretty much everything in life. My father was a powerful but 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 my protection and healing hands-on style, as she was to argue with my father to take me over 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. I was also starting to think other people had really horribly disconnected lives. By now I’d realised they didn’t communicate with spirits (people-without-bodies) at all. Different means assumptions change.

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).

Last year, I make a new friend with a woman at a time when she was 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 and as friendships go, I tentatively share some of my life experience. She texts me unexpectedly one morning. Despite her need for our friendship, she feels frightened and wants to step back. Different scares people.

Recently, an elderly female neighbour confides in me her ongoing discomfort with an unpredictable male building caretaker. 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 personally enacted sorcery on him. I have my own observations, and have heard his threats of violence towards other female neighbours. Less than two weeks later, I get a text from her late one night:

While he 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.

Over ten years ago, one night I woke as my cat jumped onto my chest, her eyes wild wide and shaking. Simultaneously I heard the sound of falling wet cement outside. If someone jumps from the 12-floor apartment building where I live, they land outside my front door. 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. 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 fully told anyone about this night. Different scares people.

So where am I going with this?

While Different eventually scares people, it’s also possible to take control and use Different, like Christian Wolff. Christian used Different to fund a service for others like himself, to purchase things that sustained his life and further his skill development. Like him,  I choose to use Different to further my own game plan.

I believe it’s important to notice Different when I’m reminded of it and acknowledge the power it offers. As a colleague makes light of something in their life, I’m noticing the demonic in the corner winking. Another thinks 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. When you find Different in your Fools Sack, unpack, explore and get on with it. Hold onto the power of Different – it’s distinctly inconvenient and magnificently subversive.

Different is uncomfortable. Today I am acutely aware of my responsibility to act judiciously and be kind with Different. I weigh the scales before speaking. Will what I say nurture my colleagues, my friends or people around me, or turn them into basket cases – aka fingers-in-ears-style calling la-la-la.

With competency and capacity, and the demonic whispering in my ears, today I can choose to either scare the horses or nourish souls.

26 November 2017

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