The Grown – Up Version of Hide and Seek

I cannot avoid considering the elements and events in life from a developmental perspective, among others. No matter which way I turn, there it is, providing context, along with nature (genetics) and nurture (the environment, especially within the family). A developmental view, not only of individuals, but of families and other institutions, helps me plot out the next goal, keeps me “on the line,”  and helps me know the general path of my life.

Over this long week-end, I had the blessing of interacting every day with children from infancy through early school age and with other adults who are young parents, grandparents, great grandparents, single, divorced, widowed, straight and gay, Jewish and non-Jewish. I found myself not only “in” the action but also observing it. I had the luxury of time for reflection, as well. I saw humor, honesty, irritability, integrity, self-focus, empathy and sharing. I wondered, “Where are we all headed as individuals and as a group of extended family members and dear friends? I asked myself, “How is it that some of us can laugh at ourselves first and with others later? How is that two-year-old able to share his ice cream while the adult sitting next to him is unable to share anything but anger and resentment? How can that fellow continue to enjoy the spontaneity of a family gathering while in the midst of grief? How can that person be so very ill and yet rise every morning and, upon being asked how everything is going, say, “It is going. No complaints. How is it going with you?”

We told stories; we told jokes. We contributed history; we shared dreams for the future. We played peeka-boo with the infant. “See,” we were saying. “You are there, and I am here. I will be here for you. You can depend on me. You can trust me. Just because I duck behind the pillow or throw a towel over my face doesn’t mean I disappear.” The preschoolers and early school-age children played hide and seek. “Now you see me. Now you don’t. I challenge you to be quick  and to think creatively. Where would I hide? Do you know me as well as you think you do? (Most importantly,) can I trust you to look for me, to find me, not to leave me alone and apart?” What about the adults?

Dorothy Fields, upon being asked where she was going, replied, “No matter where I run, I meet myself there,” (1966). Perhaps the game adults play is a grown-up version of Hide and Seek. Do I see myself clearly? How do my presence and my actions impact others? What is their influence over me? How much have I changed? How much hope is there that I can continue to grow and change as long as I live? Just because I was born with (fill in the blank)  which runs in my family, do I need to keep that quality or can I develop? Can I help myself grow and chang? Can those around me help? Do I open myself to feedback that doesn’t necessarily please me, or do I shut it out? When I look in the mirror, am I looking at my face and my body or at my heart, mind, and soul? Is my vision clear? Am I recalling my associations and interactions of yesterday and the exchanges through which I had an influence on others and they on me? Do I wish to seek myself so that I may see myself clearly or do I wish only to hide, to hide from myself, pretending that others do not see me as I am? Am I going to play Hide or to play Seek? Will my family and friends continue to seek and to find me? And when I have been found, when I have found myself, whom will I find?

Ruth Gruber, Haven  (1986), set her sights on finding and being herself:

            To write with my heart. To think and speak with my heart. To be adven-  turous, to be an activist, to be a rebel, to be compassionate, and most             of all, to be a mensch – a decent human being.

May we, each of us, as individuals and as a community, seek to find and to know ourselves. May we be blessed in our travels to meet ourselves.