This is my family. As I learned from working with Ernie Kurtz, in this life we are all born into a kind of paradoxical “4-H Club.” When we are close enough to hug someone, we are also close enough to be hugged by that person. But—we are also close enough to hit or be hit— even if, as often happens, the blow is accidental. A favorite story in my family revolves around a fight with my brother John, just 18 months older than me, in our dining room. I ran around the table as fast as I could but he was faster so I grabbed a steak knife from the table. John stopped, eyes wide. “You wouldn’t do that,” he said. I threw it at him and just barely missed his head. We both looked in something approaching awe (horror?) at the knife standing upright, swaying slightly, stuck in the wood floor.
Healing and hurting work much in the same way—we cannot heal each other without getting close but in coming that close, we can also hurt each other, even if unintentionally. Closeness, affection, intimacy, love are all risky endeavors. Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotations: We have to continue jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down. (Ray Bradbury)