Sunday, July 17, 2011

Not Just a Pretty Face


"It's not easy, being green." ~ Kermit the Frog

Kermit's been my favorite Muppet ever since the opening scenes of the The Muppet Movie (1979) depicting him sitting on a log in his swamp, singing, "The Rainbow Connection." I love that song, especially the final verse.

Have you been half asleep,
and have you heard voices,
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound,
that calls the young sailor?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it;
it's something that I'm supposed to be...
Someday I'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers, and me.

Kermit's right, it's not easy being green -- or whichever color you happen to be. I don't mean skin and I don't think he does, either. It's not easy being a frog, amphibian on the outside, singer of songs on the in. People don't readily adjust to either. A talking frog or one with a dream. Frogs are supposed to croak, or creak if they're the teensy tiny ones populating the imitation Everglades a few hundred feet from my house. There's a whole chorus of them, all on key, all on the same note, probably all saying the same thing, all at once. Yeah, that's what frogs are supposed to do.

Not sing. Not while playing a banjo, anyway.

I've felt like Kermit lately. I mean, you'd think it was the most natural thing in the world, to tell people in a psychiatric department you've been down their road before, picking up twigs and stones of this and that along the way, shoving them in your pockets like a kid collecting treasures. But it's not always, and there's a whole slew of reasons why. The last thing you want to do, ever, is create the impression you think you're past being a student. For one thing, it's not true and on top of that, even the things you do know can be and probably are, done differently and maybe better.

Another reason is, you're as unknown to them as they are to you. They're busy doing their jobs and even though that includes teaching you, it takes a while to figure out how loosely they can hold the reins. They know the individual patients you're working with and even though you may have seen similar ones before, you haven't seen these ones and only a fool ignores his guide in the wilderness.

Besides, gradual acquaintance pays dividends. Think about the last time you went out with someone who practically told you their life's story on the first date. It's really more fun if something is left to the imagination. All except, of course, the fifteen semesters they spent learning license plate decorating in San Quentin. You'd like to know about that up front.

It's kind of similar here, where allowing yourself to become known bit by bit makes things more interesting. But then comes the day when when someone discovers you and your friends wrote a book and it looks like you've been keeping secrets. You weren't really, you just wanted people to get to know you so that what you've done doesn't get in the way. So they know you're a regular guy and not just a pretty face.

No foolin'.


(Creative Commons image of Kermit by kewgee via Flickr)
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