(116) The Joys of Being Invisible


Today I was seeking some kind of inspiration to write a Found poem.  The found poem method has been popping up all over my Facebook feed lately.  I have started reading Amy Poehler’s book Yes, Please and so it was natural to look in her book for something I could use. I happened upon pages 100-101 where she explains how wonderful it is to grow older and become invisible.  I agree wholeheartedly.  But I soon could see that she had so many good points, that it would be hard to “find”  poem — I’d need to include nearly everything.

I have gotten more interested in Amy lately because she is a master of improvisation — something I am earnestly trying to incorporate into my teaching. I figure there are things I could learn here.

I did not expect to find this part about invisibility.  After all, Amy is quite a bit younger than I am.  However, her words are wise.  So, I’m going to improvise a bit myself.  I am going to “find” a line of hers to share, and then share my experience.  I have not pre-planned this.  I have decided to do what improv is all about — say Yes, and… continuing the story.

Here goes. The words in italics are Amy’s.

Getting older makes you somewhat invisible. This can be exciting.

Yes, and I have found this to be true for myself. I used to want the attention, especially as a teacher. The outside validation felt necessary.  It is why I tried for Golden Apple three times.  Yet, I’ve tired of that role and can no longer figure out why I was even interested. This is the exciting part for me. I no longer have to be the golden girl. I can just do my work and know that when you’re the golden girl, more gets heaped upon you. I don’t want more. I just want to do what I want to do. Invisible in this aspect is good.

Knowing when to edit is a great aspect of being older, and since you are invisible, no one will even notice you are gone.

Yes, and I love this because I have found that since I am “old” no one expects me to even show up at the party. So when I do, they are surprised and when I leave they barely notice. I will add, they often don’t notice that I brought them a gift, so I receive little thanks.  But that’s not why I’m there.

You can watch them [young people] throw around their “alwayses” and “nevers” and “I’m the kind of person who’s” and delight in the fact that you are past that point in your life.

Yes, and sometimes I still hear these lines from people that I think are old enough to know better.  SMH.

The strange thing is that the moment people start looking at you less is when you start being able to see through people more. You get better at understanding what people mean and how it can be different from what they say. Finally, the phrase “actions speak louder than words” starts to make sense.

Yes, and so does the phrase “no news is good news.”  If I have nothing to report, I am grateful. It means my health is good and that I know it isn’t all about me.  What I do, I do.  Keeping it to myself is just fine with me.

Gone are the days (hopefully) when you take everything personally and internalize everyone’s behavior.

Yes, and this brings me to my own personal affront at begin invisible.  When I was in my twenties, I worked as a computer operator at a place called Hinchcliff Products in Strongsville, Ohio.  I was in a room all alone, and in the office outside my room sat about 4-5 people.  Every once in a while someone would visit our office — sometimes someone from another branch, or perhaps a newly hired on-the-road salesman.  Somehow, everyone would be introduced to these people except me, making me feel invisible.

I finally complained about getting overlooked to a woman in the office whose name was also Helen — she was much older, probably in her 60’s.  She took it upon herself to make sure I met the next person they hired.  It was a guy named Jim.  I met him and when he shook my hand, he held it just a little bit longer.  It wouldn’t be for another year, but this turned out to be the guy I would eventually marry.

So in this case, bitching about being invisible paid off 🙂

You get better at knowing what you want and need.

Yes, and this is probably one of the best parts.  Along with these lines from Amy, making a bit of a found poem, my original intention for this blog:

I am interested in people who swim in the deep end.

I remember fewer names so I try to focus on someone’s eyes instead.

I want to have conversations about real things with people who have experienced real things.

Life is crunchy and complicated and all the more delicious.

Now that I am older, I am rounder and softer, which isn’t always a bad thing.

Occasionally I don’t recognize myself in a store window.

I don’t miss the frustration of youth, the anticipation of love and pain, the paralysis of choices still ahead.

I have work to do.

Yes, please, to all of it, Amy.  You say it perfectly.

Meeting Jim was a time I was glad I wasn’t invisible. Here we are at Golden Apple dinner in 2011

3 thoughts on “(116) The Joys of Being Invisible

  1. I am a young teacher in my twenties, and you might be surprised to know how much I can relate. I want to be the best teacher I can be, but that always means giving more and more each day. I want to give to my students, and that is it. I want to be a great teacher, not the teacher who does a million things at one time. I am not interested in burning out. I am more interested in flying under the radar, so to speak. I don’t want to be department chair, or take on any leadership roles, but I cannot tell my superiors that or I look incompetent. I want to always make sure I have time for myself and my writing. I feel that concentrating on my passion is the best example I can set for my students. Even at 27, I too find joy in wearing an invisible cloak.


    1. I hear ya! It is so easy to burn out in this career. As the years go by we get more to do and less time to do it in. I wish you well in keeping your writing going. That was something I gave up on for many years as I was department chair and more. Had to abandon high school and switch to middle in order to reclaim the writing life. Keep in touch!

      Liked by 1 person

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