Friday, October 7, 2016

1434: Caboose Ruse

Does respect mean the same thing as look up to? In some contexts and Thesauruses, maybe. But I will offer an interpretation based on the Latin; it is re + spicio. The spicio means to look, or to watch. The re can mean again, but here it is best translated as back. To respect is to look back. No, not look back the way Orpheus looked back at Eurydice – look back as in, looking at someone in the eye while they talk to you. And do you know what that means? It means you are standing at eye-level with them. You are their peer, their equal. That, to my mind, is where we find respect. I do not think it is reserved for our parents, our bosses, our elders, or our superiors; no, we respect anyone we do not look down upon. We respect our friends (perhaps most of all) because they are at eye-level with us. To respect is to treat with fairness and balanced admiration. Individuals who are equals will respect one another.
. . .
I miss you. In the end, I don’t think you respected me. When all was said & done, I think you despised me a little. That is, de + spicio; you looked down upon me. I think you were wrong to do so, and maybe I was culpable for allowing it. But I will tell you what is fascinating: You always respected what I said.  Even when things were crashing & burning, you gave my words a chance. You allowed me to disclose. There was no need to compete, to lecture, to correct, to silence or one-up. Not even to relate with – perhaps occasionally to analyze. You are aware that, for my mind in particular, analysis can suggest interest . . . provided that you don’t claim to have solved all my puzzles, to have mastered them before I even had a clue.

But no, you never claimed that. You respected everything I had to say, so willingly and so considerately. You could have laughed when I told you about my swine-flu experience; you dealt with illnesses much more terrible than that. But you didn’t laugh. You listened. And I entrusted you with ‘guy feelings’ too, didn’t I? You could have tried to convince me that your ‘girl feelings’ were so much worse, so much more terrible than I could have imagined. But you didn’t. It was known between us, understood and appreciated, that neither of us had it worse than the other. All because of respect. You respected my every word; and in return, I respected yours. We respected one another. We regarded each other as equals. We both had respect, and it was marvelous.
. . .
Fact is, I miss you a lot. I know it’s easy to peg you as a villain. It’s true that you made a lot of mistakes, and also true that these paragraphs won’t reverse them. But good heavens, your respect was through the roof. And it really makes me miss you. Bless you, pal. Bless you wherever you are. And thank you so much; thank you one million times to the millionth power. If suddenly I felt very bold and courageous – well, only then would I be able to thank you for real.

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