The desire to live unseen had its beginnings in the early morning hours of my first memory, I am a 2-years-old living in a commune surrounded by preschoolers. The commune is “WKFL Fountain of the World” on Box Canyon Road in California. The building I lived in is long and narrow like a train car and nestled on the side of a hill, and tended by one caretaker, Sister Erica. It is December 10, 1958, when an explosion disrupted our commune and planted in the rubble is the founder and leader, Master Krishna Venta.
I do not remember hearing the explosion, but I woke up sometime later and see my mother sitting in a chair in the dark. She sits stoically with her back straight, hands clasped together in her lap, bare feet planted on the floor and staring straight ahead. I remember asking in my head, “What is she doing here?” Wow, first clue, a problem with my attitude.
Years later I come to identify some reasons I had to the cold indifference to my mother. For instance, five months earlier my world turned upside down. My family of four lived in an apartment building next door to my grandmother. But after the abuse and fight, my mother leaves her heroin addict husband. For my family this means, my father stays in Chicago, my mother, brother and I move to California. My mother lives in the women’s dorm on another part of the hill, and my brother and I live in the nursery and taken care of by Sister Erica.
And so begins my life of escaping uncertainties, deep relationships and the desire to control. My version of escape and control is to “live unseen.” My favorite ways of escape are: In school, I sat in the back and seldom expressed myself, look the other way when walking past other students, in the cafeteria, sitting at an unoccupied table in the corner, or in an open area, pretending like I am reading. //When at a park I would find the least traveled path or a distant bench. When I went to a party, I would sit quietly in a group unnoticed.
After high school, my lifestyle of “living unseen” hung on. In junior college, I sat in the back and formed no friendships. In the later seasons of life, I strived to accomplish my daily tasks to perfection. I never felt I accomplished tasks good enough. I routinely spent hours working on perfection. Working hard did not mean I wanted to work my way up the ladder because working up the ladder meant being noticed and this is counterintuitive to my goal.
As the years passed, I developed into a “not being seen” expert. When I am expected at a function, I will enter at the exact moment it starts. People are too busy selecting their seats, they are not paying attention to who walked in the door. If I am suffering from anxiety, I will enter 5 minutes late and slide into a back row to make certain I bring no attention to myself.
Even now, When I go to church, I slip in just when the praise and worship starts, which also means I miss the greeters at the door, Hallelujah. When the service is over, I slip out as the pastor says, “You are dismissed.” But if I get caught, I know how to avoid eye contact. But, my best tactic of all, don’t go to functions or parties.
All my life I believed I had it all together and efficient at protecting myself from suffering. But, life has a way of presenting the other side of the coin. I recognized people from my past, but they appeared not to remember me and this made me realize how much of an expert, I had become.
What comes with “not being seen,” is not remembered.
To be remembered validates a person. Wishing “not to be seen” is sabotaging your life and purpose. Guilty!