‘So what does visibility mean to you?’ the interviewer asks.
I take a breath. A deep breath.
It’s a question that’s been hovering, floating through the periphery of my mental landscape since the presenter at that conference invited us to ponder; ‘What’s your next big leap? What will you expand into now?’
‘Make the invisible visible’, I heard as tears welled up in my eyes. ‘But there’s so much that’s invisible I thought’.
Sexism, racism, oppression in so many forms. It’s all invisible to the privileged. Biases are completely invisible to those who benefit from them.
And stories. So many stories. Absent from mainstream narrative that excludes so many more than it invites to its table.
But not just stories. Actual people. People missing. From history yes. And from actual buildings too. Boardrooms and parliaments, television screens, award ceremonies, art gallery walls, public spaces and places.
And then there’s another layer. People are missing from life itself.
Girls are missing. Girls that were born and killed because they were girls.
Indigenous people are missing from old people’s homes. They’re dying before they have a chance to complain about the terrible food and the lack of visitors.
In America, children are missing from schools and black lives have been taken from the streets.
Absence. So much absence.
The more I ponder the question, the more I see the invisible everywhere. Like ghosts hovering in the corners. They’re waiting. Waiting for a sliver of light to highlight their existence.
How to see what’s invisible?
Then a voice within spoke up; ‘Step into circle. Life isn’t hierarchical, it’s circular. In circle everyone can tell their story. They can step forward, share their experience, gift their wisdom, and then step back. Not one is excluded from the circle. Everyone is a valuable participant. And as you step back into the role of participant, rather than sharer of wisdom, you create the space for another person to step forward and share their knowledge and gifts.’
‘In a circle all are visible to each other. In a hierarchy, you can only see the feet of the people above you and the heads of the people below you. Almost everyone is invisible to you.’
Step into circle. Take your place. Allow yourself to be seen. Share your gifts. Then step back, see and witness the experience of others.
All of this flashes through my mind as I breathe that deep breath.
‘Visibility is seeing the truth of yourself,’ I say. And can’t help but consider the inadequacy of my response.