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We are looking at a strangely contorted tree. There are more of them, here on the sanddunes. He looks more interesting then the straight trees in the forest. It looks like a tree by himself has more space to grow wild but also more in danger of growing twisted and distorted. The trees that grow close to each other in the forest are straighter, maybe the only way to catch the light is to grow tall. Perhaps the seed of this contorted tree landed on the sand, where it is more difficult to grow, maybe it has known dry spells, a stroke of lightning or deer have knibbled its branches when it was still young. It catches our sight, this tree. She says it is a beautiful tree. Much more beautiful then those long straight poles, she says. I reply that it is a matter of how you view this, and who is viewing this. I say it is a tree, period. It isn’t beautiful, it begets that quality because we think so. We project our opinion and our idea and all over sudden it stops being the tree that it is. We argue. A tree is just beautiful or ugly, she feels.

We project almost constantly, from our own need and affirmation of our way of seeing things and judgement. They can be positive and negative. What or who does someone see who is looking at me? Do they see a robust man who wants to get ot the bottom of things, who wants to give meaning to his life and who doesn’t stop asking questions, to the point of near exhaustion? Do they see an ageing man with a somewhat unhealthy lifestyle who can be firm and stubborn, who sometimes has trouble finding his way through life and who never stops rooting and searching? On that last projection something strange happens to me. When I get this, my mask closes itself around me and I start behaving in the way the projection is leading me. I become the projection and I am good at it as well! Small wonder, I have practiced this for the better part of my life. And I do the same to other people,  I notice. Am I the only one doing this?

What I also notice is that I experience not being seen. I go away from myself. I become what you see. You don’t see me, you see your projection and my answer to it. It is extremely difficult to answer in a different way, to make myself vulnerable and to say that perhaps we could speak differently, softer. In not being able to answer I feel powerless and inadequate and that hurts as well. We have learned to put our masks over our being to a degree of perfection.

Not a handsome person and not an ugly person. Just a person. To be seen for who you really are, without judgement and without reservation feels like homecoming. Then you become beautiful because you are seen and are being heartened to become more of that person. When were you seen, first, last?

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