Archive for March 10th, 2010
This is a very shy little boy who lives in a ramshackle dwelling along the banks of a dried-up river bed, a place where the dispossessed have thrown together bits and pieces of wood, cardboard and metal until they could be called their homes. I was at the scene in order to lend a hand with a shovel so that a retaining wall would provide a bit of security when the rainy season comes and the river once again flows with water.
I got to take a number of photos during the morning, not too many so that it would be intrusive, not so many as to interfere with the work that had to be done. I needed to do the work for this little micro-community as well as for my own soul. So much for altruism – yes, there was a selfish purpose – my need for purpose and meaning.
As I said, I took photos of the scene and of some of the people living there including this little boy. I wish that I was more proficient in Spanish as I would have loved to be able to speak to this little guy and some of the others I met. Regardless of the stories they could have told me, I knew that they would repeat stories told by others around the world. There is something universal in being human and being a child. With limited language skills, I did manage to have the little guy smile.
I am a grandfather and I know children and this makes the task easier. Also helping me is a knowledge of Developmental Psychology. I taught the subject for a fair number of years and learned that though a child might appear more mature than others of his or her age, that appearance is actually deceiving. Beneath the appearance is a child, a child limited by his or her developmental stage.
One of the things I sort of overlooked as I taught Developmental Psychology, was the topic of “psychic stages.” Jungian Psychology fills in the blank spots and lets me begin to understand the problems of adulthood and midlife that arise out of the psychic experiences of childhood. Note that I said “psychic” experiences rather than “life” experiences. There is a difference. For example, imagine going to visit extended family and being allowed to stay over with your cousins when the day visit comes to an end. Nothing traumatic is evident, in fact, all appears to be more positive than negative. Yet, for one child, this could be taken as abandonment rather than as a reward and opportunity. How does one know? One doesn’t. At some point in time if the event was taken as abandonment, the story will out.
Experiences with mother, father, siblings or the lack of such become encased and hidden in layers of life or forgotten because remembering them only causes pain. So, as I look at this little boy, I wonder how he will fare, how will he be different from the other little boys? Then I leave the scene to return to my villa. Still, I know that he saw and experienced me as I saw and experienced him. And that, has changed both of us forever – a psychic experience.