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OtterChristmas 1.3-Frankly

No matter how deeply I might feel about the importance of straight talk, the bulk of my talk seems fundamentally crooked. Not deliberate lies, more like tacit misrepresentations. Stuff not said often dominates my narrative, usually for the best of all possible reasons. The time rarely seems right for full disclosure. Much of what I mean to say never finds voice, thank heavens.

I question the quantity of deep delving any quality relationship demands of its participants. Shallow suffices for most situations, with infrequent, heart-felt deeper dives serving as welcome respite from a certain satisfactorily sustaining superficiality. I mostly skim along the surface.

Anticipating The Grand Otter's visit, I imagine long meandering conversations where we finally get to the bottom of things. These do happen, but they hardly dominate our time together. Most often, these emerge while we're engaged in some usefully distracting activity, the kind no one would ever suspect capable of eliciting any depth. I wait out these moments, understanding they cannot be rushed and will not be forced. I'm not nearly the inquisitor Grandmother Bear can be.

Yesterday was my usual meet day with Franklin, a dear friend I met when we lived in DC who now lives not far from here. We meet most weeks, either face-to-face or via Skype. Franklin introduced The Otter to her guitar, showing her in a scant session how to express herself musically. She wrote her first song following that first lesson. Since then, she's revered him, and he, her, so I invited her to come along. The Muse, on vacation except for essential meetings this week, tagged along, too.

We met at the Cheese Importers, an unlikely French bistro, cheese shop, and cute crap store in the old railroad town of Longmont. It's a really wonderful place serving decent coffee and authentic puff pastry, a perfect context for something more substantial than the commonly superficial. Franklin and I have often resolved the more troubling dilemmas of the world there while ostensibly just drinking some Joe.

The Otter mostly sits and listens, gnawing her way through a sandwich, as Franklin and I dance our usual dance, filling in the space since our last sit-down. We confide in each other as usual, as if The Otter wasn't there until near the end of our time. I ask after The Otter's progress on what she cannot not do. In our last conversation six weeks earlier, I'd introduced her to the concept of Agency, that which one feels so deeply that they cannot not pursue. No permission's ever required for Agency, save the permission one bestows upon oneself to follow your heart.

Of course, complications emerged once The Otter began chasing this dream. It was not going to turn out the way she originally envisioned, but would that deter her? Apparently not. It was taking more time, but time holds little significance when one cannot not do something.

I was a participant in this exchange, but more as an observer, watching The Otter and Franklin engage. Franklin, bless his huge heart, has this way of so sweetly insinuating himself into deeper levels of consideration. I'm uncertain how he does this, but I'm confident that it's not technique at all, but a genuine expression of who he is in the world. I've experienced his prying open some unappreciated manhole cover, and reveled as The Otter opened up under his interest.

As usually happens, a lot more story gushes out than was initially apparent, and with that deepening plot, possibilities expand. Many threads weave together. A few very gentle questions exhibit an insistent, genuine interest, ennobling The Otter's aspiration. Yea, this seems more doable now.

This dialogue ends as they all do, with hugs all around. The Muse, The Otter, and I retire to the enormous cheese 'closet' to scour for the perfect holiday cheese while Franklin moves on to his next conversation. He insists that he spend most of his time these days engaging in these sorts of chats. We're all better for this.

An OtterChristmas should properly be like regular life, protracted periods of status quo punctuated by very occasional deeper delves, otherwise, I suppose, depth couldn't properly contrast and might become indistinguishable from flat. We gain that dimension sparingly, gratefully. We stop on the return drive so The Muse won't lose her cell signal. She's in the backseat in a meeting while The Otter and I drive in mutual respectful silence following those refreshing disclosures until we stop to peer off into the distance from a cliff-side turn out. The Otter starts snapping pictures. I find a hunk of supremely grainy English cheddar, and we share nibbles as we watch that flat plain below us quietly disappear into the future.

Frankly celebrating, indeed!

©2016 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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