Under the People Umbrella

by Mary Beth Huwe

Sometimes I think of people – all of the people, I mean – as being under an umbrella together. We might squawk about who should hold it and how, which way it makes the most sense to stand, what the weather is doing or is going to do, who most deserves to be under the umbrella, etc. But in general, we’re attracted to each other and share a certain sameness. In the end, we usually agree that we’d rather be under the people umbrella together than under the wild hyena umbrella or the umbrella of reproduction by budding. Things like that.

In other words, even though we all fall under the same umbrella we have a variety of differences within our intrinsic sameness. We all know this to some degree, I think, though we may surround ourselves with people Very Much Like Ourselves. When we do that, our interactions can become reinforcement for what we already know. And that can be limiting, like sitting in a beautiful place and staring at your phone.

But some people get hands-on experience with the differences in people and I feel lucky to be among them. The way that I see people – namely as an acupuncturist –  is a way that I choose and a way that I’m good at. So there’s a safety within the structure that allows me to deeply interact with people whose life experiences and umbrella opinions are wildly different from my own.

Typically, there’s a sameness/difference occurrence in the way that people respond to treatment. It’s generally in one of four ways. I have found that, educated though my guess may be, I can only guess how a person is going to respond to treatment. This is especially true for the first treatment, when I’m just getting to know how that person’s body appropriates its resources and priorities.

But the ways people respond are not predictable by (the oft oppressive) class, gender, race, socioeconomic background, or any other way we group ourselves or each other. Those groupings may somehow color or otherwise affect the response, but they don’t dictate it. I find this beautifully reassuring and reductive. The millionaire and the miner can be together under the umbrella in a different, more human way. To that I say, Wow. Just, wow.