I SEE INVISIBLE PEOPLE

Posted: October 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

INVISIBLEAs a kid I always wanted to be invisible. Invisibility was my reply when asked what superpower I wanted. Imagine the fun you could have – especially with girls! Later in life I had / have a dream to move to a deserted tropical island and just disappear. A kind of self-inflicted invisibility.

Change of direction: so I end up sitting with a stranger in a restaurant due to space issues. He is an older man, maybe in his mid-60’s and at the time I was in my 40’s. We start talking about stuff and eventually old age becomes a topic. He explains one or two of the many downsides of getting older. The first thing was the loss of hearing direction. Not hearing itself but the direction from where the voice is coming. You hear your name but you can’t make out the direction it’s coming from, so you end up looking around like a special-needs person, with your wife madly swinging her arms at you as if she’s parking an airplane with ping-pong bats.

The second challenge he told me was “becoming invisible”. “Invisible?” I asked. “Yes, you becoming invisible, that’s why I’m amazed you even wanted to sit with me let alone speak to me. You see the older you get the more of a non-person you become”. He now had sadness on his face and the situation became a little uncomfortable. He told me how people actually, physically bump into him because he’s old and people just stop seeing him. His opinions, ideas and council were no longer requested, needed, or taken seriously. Now, of course I am fascinated! I have always been intrigued about how we treat older people so my brain focuses on the concept of being invisible. A hard thing to do as a stage performer who is the center of attention almost every other day.

I started listening and noticing other people speak of the same condition. Being invisible. And to my surprise many aren’t even old people. It is difficult to ask you whether you see invisible people, because if they are invisible how do you see them? So, let’s see if I can get you to see the unseen that are around you every day.  

Do you also have an invisible person who puts socks and clean underwear in your drawer? Or an invisible person who fills the fridge with food every day? They make sure that clothing magically appears clean and pressed in your cupboards and meals appear on the table every night without any effort from you. We have an invisible lunch maker who makes lunches for our kids. I see her doing this every day but for some reason the teenage children don’t. To them the lunch boxes just magically appear and on their way home with their invisible chauffeur they pass comments of disapproval at some of the menu items for the day. These blissfully unaware messages are conveyed “through” mostly invisible Mom and intended for the invisible lunch maker.

What about the people at work? The ones who are there but you never really actually see them. They wave at you (or not) at the security boom when you drive in to work. They are (you think) at a reception area that you bypass as you walk past more invisible interns or people pushing carts or trolleys on the way to your office. Maybe they are in another building or on another floor with a headset or maybe they are on the executive level. They could probably be those invisible people who make your salary actually appear – even if briefly – into your bank account every month.

I know there are invisible, not respected and unappreciated, hard-working people who actually keep the lights on in this country. They do this with literally invisible leadership in a broken, poorly run parastatal, filled with nepotism, corruption, cronyism, incompetence and cadre deployment. But the lights stay on – most of the time!

So why now? Why is this a thing for me now?

Because I notice, as the old man predicted, everyday as my years add up that I am becoming more and more invisible. I recently became invisible to 50% of the world’s population. Women don’t see me anymore – ever since I added magic, invisible making, grey dust to my hair. My hair doesn’t disappear – I do. I don’t even get the old – disapproving look as they decide I’m ugly, or not their type, as they look away condescendingly anymore. Now they actually don’t even see me. I do not exist. They literally look through me as if I was glass. It is the most unbelievable feeling. I may as well be traffic regulations to a taxi.

Then I turned 50. Major invisible trick! Dynamo has nothing on me. If you wish to disappear like free food at a conference, just become a 50-year-old married man with grey hair. With this trifecta you are so invisible that black holes move away from you.

Then I started disappearing at home. I decided to get a haircut at a proper barber the other day (I usually do a number 3 on myself). The hair artist spent about an hour cutting, trimming, clipping, shaving, combing and even asked, “May I use some product on your hair, Sir?”. He then asked whether I liked his masterpiece to which I replied that if I walked into my home and my wife and children mistook me for George Clooney the haircut would be a massive hit and I would definitely return. It’s been 4 days now since my haircut and no one has noticed. The look on my family’s faces when I read this newsletter to them and they noticed the haircut for the first time – priceless! Good news for my banking account, not so good for the young hair Picasso.

Hardly ever does anyone inquire about my day and how I feel. People look past me in shopping centers and even if dealing with a younger person in stores, they speak in your general direction but not to you. My research confirms that it is worse for women. Women report that they become invisible as soon as they hit 40.   The old man in the restaurant assured me that it only gets worse. People and family only invite you out of duty.  “Well he’s our dad we have to invite him; it’s the right thing to do!” Then they carry on with their party as if you didn’t exist; with the occasional “are you okay, can I get you anything?”  

But I’ve been thinking, as I often do, that maybe it’s not all that bad, this being invisible thing:

  • You can put on weight and eat what you want because no one looks at you.
  • You can get a tattoo of your mother-in-law’s face on your butt because you’re invisible.
  • Grooming is easier and cheaper because people don’t see you as a mark. If they feel they cannot get anything from you, they just leave you alone.
  • You learn to watch and observe a lot more.
  • You speak less or only when you are spoken to, and you tend to measure your responses.
  • You can take a day off and hardly anyone will notice as long as what they usually get from you is still in its place.
  • You don’t have to be the life of the party, and make small talk or conversation. If you don’t even pitch, hardly anyone will notice.

Mostly you get to see other invisible people. You get to notice and feel how they feel, you get to stop and without even a word, see them. And for just a second or two they become. They actually BE and come into sight. Right in front of your eyes! You have the ability to make them appear. TaDa! I see you!  It’s a beautiful thing to watch. And it’s a powerful thing to be the See’er!  

So now I notice, now I see. I make it all appear I make it real. I notice.

  • I see my little girls joy at receiving her full colours or her disappointment when her heart is broken.
  • I notice, and I see the lunch maker, the file creator and the best business partner in the world.
  • I see and I notice the home-cooked meals and the shopping and the time and effort and the love that went into preparing it, and the dishes that disappear after it.
  • I see the new outfits and the gym visits.
  • I notice my little boy’s jokes and the laughter, the punch in the arm as a way to say, I love you dad.
  • I see my little girl’s early-morning dedication, rowing on the lake, and working out in the gym.
  • I see their report cards as a wonderful work ethic that we have instilled in them.

The more I notice, the more I see, the more I build in spite of me. Hey – that rhymes. Maybe it’s not so bad this invisible thing because at the point I disappear others appear. Maybe it’s perfect the way it is. But the older you get the more you realise that it’s not about you, it really never was. It’s about helping other people to shine. It’s about seeing them shine. Helping them and guiding them to shine. Helping others see and be seen, so that they may bask in their moment, visible to all – until it is their time to also disappear.  

So this note is to you Mr or Ms. Invisible where ever you are! Mrs. Invisible Mom, Mr Invisible Dad, invisible friend, invisible chef or accounting clerk. To you the invisible husband or invisible wife, you may not be noticed or you may not feel you are noticed but you are. I see you, if even only through this note, I see you. If you’re happy with being invisible, well that’s just cool, because you get it! We only see what we reflect. Reflect your light, focus your light, bring the light, give light and you’ll make things lighter. Start seeing other people, be the great See’er, the Big Notice’r. The Visible-ater. All people really want is to be seen – to be noticed.  

Love, light and laughter

Your invisible friend

G

PS a small note on children – especially teenagers. They may not see or acknowledge the fetching and they carrying: or the effort to provide the dinners and the lunches; the late nights and all of the worrying. She could never consciously see the 2 o’clock in the morning drives around the block to get her to sleep: or where the R100, that magically appears out of your wallet when he wants to go out comes from, or what it took to get there. These things they may not see but I am sure they felt it – the feel it. After all – what we do out of love is felt more than it is seen. Love is after all an action. We show what we feel and we do what we do to show our love. We do so not out of a need to be seen but as a way to show our unselfish, unconditional love.

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Comments
  1. Rosalind Wuth says:

    You always hit the mark. Well done Gav… and thank you.

    Like

  2. Hi Gavin, I was about to scroll away or delete-as I get so many newsletters from different companies. but then I got interested, and I just want to thank you for this well written, insightful letter! I’m turning 69 next year and am still marketing properties! In the last year I’ve become more and more invisible to my colleagues and the clients out there. Maybe one should retire gracefully, but I still have so much to give! My client service has always been impeccable, and I’ve kept up-to-date with technology. Just not hip and pretty anymore…
    Good luck wiht growing old-it’s not for sissies, but beats dying young!

    Like

  3. Colin Butler says:

    Hi Gavin,
    Very well put article and so true but to be expected to some degree as we move from child state (give me – what can I get thinking) to adult state thinking (what can I give, who can we encourage thinking for the benefit of all). What is scary is how few people develop into the adult state no matter how old they get. Having said that I am also aware that self-preservation is part of our basic build up, so becoming invisible can be a difficult state to accept without a fight
    Best regards
    Colin Butler

    Like

  4. Nomfundiso Booi says:

    Oh wow!!!! What an amazing angle……holla invisible buddy, holla!!

    **I’ve just received an ammunition (am gonna be that unavoidable invisible grans, I tell you). The signs of being invisible are now clearer and will respond “lekker” to all those who think being visible is forever! Their turn is coming hahahhahaa

    **Thanks Gav and your team. I love reading your thoughts….full of life and humor.

    Be Blessed.

    Like

  5. Berlinda Maltez says:

    Thanks for this, I really enjoyed it.

    Kind regards
    Berlinda

    Like

  6. Ron Clark says:

    Hi Gavin.

    Thanks so much. A Good One.
    If I had to give you a score ,from 1 to ten, My Man, you get an 11.

    Be good.
    Cheers,

    Ron

    Like

  7. Pat Hunter says:

    Hello Gavin,

    So very true, it breaks my heart to see our old folk treated they way are and little children.

    My heart does get very sore.

    I hope everybody reads this and absorbs it…………..loneliness is a terrible disease!!!

    xx

    Like

  8. L Du Toit says:

    Thank you Gavin

    I always enjoy your monthly letters…

    God bless
    Lorraine

    Like

  9. I. N. visible says:

    Such a good article and very true – from one of the Invisible Ones. We should start another “faction” like the ones on Insurgent, the movie.

    Like

  10. Nick says:

    Thanks Gavin….and thanks for seeing me by sending a birthday wish to me on my 60th. Great article.

    Like

  11. This month your article made me cry Gavin. As usual a brilliant one. Thanks so much!

    Like

  12. Elize taute says:

    This article was just what I needed. It was also an eye opener for me. Thanks Gavin

    Like

  13. Danie says:

    As always, you have nailed it Gavin! Being 51 I have seen this happening to me but also saw how I did the same to others. To circumvent it, I make a point of greeting everyone – from the security at the door to the (old) man sitting at the desk. I make myself visible and I (try to) make others visible.

    Like

  14. Oliver says:

    Great article Gavin. True to the point

    Like

  15. neville munsami says:

    your words are so true.

    Like

  16. Fanie says:

    I am also at an age where I become more and more invisible, but after reading this article I realize that it is not that bad after all what is more important is to make others visible. Thank you for excellent article.

    Like

  17. Alison Janicke says:

    Love this thanks

    Regards
    Alison Jänicke

    Like

  18. Lavona P says:

    Hi Gavin

    I really did not realise that i actually was invisible at 59yrs iam stil a shop a holic I shopped because I wanted to be seen and the older I got the lesser compliments I received not realising I wasn’t even noticed but like you said that through my iinvisibility I actually enjoy seeing things that I have taken for granted all the time

    Thank you again never stop texting I wait patiently every month to hear from you

    Much love Lavona

    Like

  19. Linda says:

    GAV you are a S C R E A M !!!

    Like

  20. Monica DP says:

    Thanks for your email

    Like

  21. Billy Lynch says:

    Great one Mr. I

    I really enjoyed it

    Best
    Billy

    Like

  22. Ben Lottering says:

    Great! Love it

    Like

  23. Janie C says:

    Dear Gavin,

    Wow, this really hit home today. I am a “61 year old” invisible person. I have been to many of your presentations and have had the wonderful opportunity of having a super career. I am still working and have recently achieved my National Diploma in Occupational Directed Training Practices. I know the feeling of being invisible, sometimes it seems as if everybody is racing passed you and you are staying behind. I have super department that I love but the manager is shall we say “different” she seems to think it a good idea to “humour” people. Reading this article I will definitely make an effort to make other people shine – after all I had my turn.

    Thanks so much for your super articles.

    Blessings
    Janine

    Like

  24. Marilet Swart says:

    Thanks for sharing some very astute observations – thanks for challenging us all to see and appreciate the invisibles again!

    Like

  25. Simon Hodosn says:

    I love the article and relate to it having been invisible for many years. the upside to being invisible is that you see what other people are really like because they don’t see you so they act naturally and that can be good or bad

    Like

  26. Sue H says:

    Excellent article and so true. I am 51 years old and the only time any younger folk take any notice of me or even look at me is when I am out with my daughter who has long blonde hair and model looks. And they only look at me (instead of through me) so as to try and impress the Mom of a pretty young girl!! Your article has voiced what so many of us feel.

    Like

  27. Hermien says:

    Hi Gavin this is so true I can be invisable and can now watch other people going along with their daily tasks without noticing me watching them and its so lekker listen to their conversations without being seen Its so true past 50 life actually becomes wondeful don’t have to worrywhat I eat what I wear how I look what I say etc. I feel more relaxed can laugh at other people feeling embarressed because I been there and done that alway worrying what other eople think of me. Have a nice day always love your letters

    Like

  28. Hennie says:

    Excellent and very true..

    Like

  29. Cindy says:

    Thank you so much. This is definitely one of the saddest, most thought provoking but also inspirational articles I’ve read in many years.

    Like

  30. Alison Grobbelaar says:

    I see you Gavin and thank you for your inspiring newsletters.

    Like

  31. FABULOUS! Thank you for making my day! Your invisible 56 year old friend, Gerrie

    Like

  32. Anne Chitare says:

    Hi Gavin,
    being from the generation of baby boomers really you have made my day. you have made me not take the “invisible” for granted. the lunch box does not feel itself neither the floors do not clean themselves. It is nice to appreciate the “invisible”

    Like

  33. SL Marais says:

    Thank you so much! This was needed!

    Like

  34. Sarah Williams says:

    Thank you that was a fabulous read and an eye opener!!!

    My kiddies are defiantly shining and I’m invisible mommy but that’s ok now that I get it!!!!!

    Like

  35. Paul Jackson says:

    Being of the right age your article on being Invisible is absolutely Brilliant!!!

    God Bless.

    Paul Jackson

    Like

  36. Norma says:

    Hello Gavin and Everyone involved in getting this amazing newsletter to me… it made me cry… hard, yip and so it did.

    The reason being that last year I was forced to retire from my job as an HR Administrator of 13 years because of my age.

    I say ‘’forced’’ because I was literally squeezed out and for a whole year I felt like a pariah. I was forced to leave not because I wasn’t working well or keeping up to speed but purely because I had become a liability as I had reached my ‘’sell by date’’ and no longer looked good on any stats.
    It was the worst year of my life, my ‘’annus horribilis’’ because people I had dedicated 13 years of my life to no longer noticed me, I had become invisible. On the 31st of December 2014 I walked out the door and there was no one there to say goodbye to, after 13 years.
    However, after reading your newsletter it gave me a wake-up call. I realise I am more observant and cognisant of others and their doings, and comings and goings and life is interesting. I have been re-employed by a great company and work with people who ‘’see me’’, need me and appreciate what I do.

    So far this year has been my ‘’annus mirabilis’’ and I’m really enjoying life again.

    Thank so you all so much for a great newsletter, please keep them coming.

    Warmest regards to you all.
    Norma

    Like

  37. Mike D says:

    Dear Gavin and Samantha,

    I love this article. So true and relevant these days in a society that seems to be obsessed with youth. As a 64 year old, I find “old” age (Is 64 old? I don’t feel it! ) rather cool for all the reasons you mention towards the end of your article. There is a certain freedom in being invisible and not giving a f…er…. damn about what others think.

    Old toppies rock!

    I would submit the lyrics from my favourite song a song by James Taylor (my favourite musician, singer songwriter) who is himself an old toppie.

    “Secret O’ Life”
    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
    Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
    Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
    But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

    The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
    It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
    Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
    And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

    Now the thing about time is that time isn’t really real.
    It’s just your point of view, how does it feel for you?
    Einstein said he could never understand it all.
    Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.

    Some kind of lovely ride. I’ll be sliding down, I’ll be gliding down.
    Try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
    “Secret O’ Life”
    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
    Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
    Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
    But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

    The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
    It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
    Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
    And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

    Now the thing about time is that time isn’t really real.
    It’s just your point of view, how does it feel for you?
    Einstein said he could never understand it all.
    Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.

    Some kind of lovely ride. I’ll be sliding down, I’ll be gliding down.
    Try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.

    Take care

    Mike

    Like

  38. Priscilla G says:

    Thank you Gavin

    I have shared this message with our sales team

    Kind regards

    Like

  39. Heinrich says:

    Thank you Gavin, your message hit this invisible guy right between the eyes! Only one thing to say: GAVIN FOR PRESIDENT!!!

    Like

  40. Jessica Namala says:

    Dear Gavin,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful news. You inspire me a lot.

    God bless you.

    Best regards,
    Jessica.

    Like

  41. Louisa Kruger says:

    Thanks for all the news letters I enjoy them immensely and I would have noticed you as I am one of the invisible people as well 

    Have a super day!

    Regards Louisa

    Like

  42. Roger Lotz says:

    Gav!!! This was a great newsletter. I miss you buddy……Rog

    Like

  43. I “see you” Gav. Thanks for the wise words…

    Like

  44. Stunning newsletter. You seem to become my “happy pill”. 🙂 Keep up the great humour and fantastic work that you do.

    Like

  45. Avroy Shlain says:

    I see you!! Thanks Gavin.

    Avroy Shlain
    C.E.O

    Like

  46. Clare Ramsay says:

    Thanks very much.

    I’m glad I took the 5 minutes to actually read the newsletter. I found it really very thought provoking.

    Like

  47. Eva Cruz says:

    Hello Gavin

    Have just read your latest newsletter and loved it – interesting perspective…
    Going to share it with my son who seems to believe that “stuff” just magically happens.

    Ciao, stay well and see you soon:
    Eva

    Like

  48. nomzamo says:

    hi Gave
    as i started reading i was laughing finding it funny, but as i continued reading i felt a bit of sadness. the very last part was an aha moment, bringing home our reason for existence.
    thank you so much for the learnings.

    Like

  49. “I can see clearly now…”

    Like

  50. Marian C says:

    Thank you for all the effort to write this… to make us see!!

    Like

  51. Elsabe says:

    So so true …. from one invisible to another … thank you!

    Like

  52. Margie says:

    You should encourage people to acknowledge that they have read your articles so that YOU dont feel like an “invisable writer”.

    Like

  53. Rob Ansell says:

    Just love your style Gavin – always enjoy reading your articles ever since I heard you speak at the FIA conference a couple of years ago. I’m in your invisibility bracket – 65 next week. But did you know that just like invisible ink there are ways of being re-seen – one is called “grand children”! Your current realisation of the meaning of life suddenly becomes all the more real.

    Ps With the years comes wisdom “Ability to think and act using Knowledge, Experience, Understanding, Common Sense and Insight”, ‘spose its a trade-off!

    PPs went to a function on Monday at which another favorite speaker spoke – Clem S. Now theoretically he’s in the bracket yet seems to become more and more visible – like a fine wine!

    Keep up the good work.

    Rob

    Like

  54. Helen says:

    Absolutely loved this article, unfortunately very true !

    Like

  55. Charmaine says:

    see you too 🙂 love the news letters and looking forward to each one.

    Like

  56. Hey Gavin. Great, insightful stuff. Being about 15 years older than your goodself, I have been subject to this invisibility of the grey-haired person for some considerable time. Like you, I appreciate that there are some benefits – what the heck else can you do, but find a benefit, because nobody else gives a damn! Observing people is one of the great benefits.. also, reading and really appreciating.. you get to understand a lot of stuff that was previously mysterious or not even considered. However, it can be difficult to share what you have learned, since nobody else really listens… you are, after all, invisible!
    We know that we understand a lot of stuff the younger people could really, really use…. but they don’t see how such an old person could actually know anything of real value… I could go on and on, but it’s actually just you and me looking at this, and you get it, so I do not need to say anything further. I am, however, listening and watching. And looking forward to your next blog.

    Like

  57. Kumeshen says:

    Gavin,

    I don’t usually reply to mails like this, but I really enjoyed reading your newsletter below. Made me think about my parents and grandparents getting old, and why we should call and visit them often, not for the sake of it, but because of who they are. Made me think of the people I take for granted every day, like the security guards at my complex, the gardener who always waves when I’m driving, the person behind the counter of the stores, the lady cleaning the windows at the office and the person making my coffees.

    Thank you,
    Kumeshen

    Like

  58. Kibashani Naidoo says:

    This is the best article I’ve read in a while, I appreciate.

    Like

  59. Jo Moloto says:

    It’s so true. I get the time to reflect on some of my big mistakes. The ones I never corrected , and costed me so much.The space and time , being alone. But the important thing is that it’s no longer about me.Its about making it possible for other people. The sacrifices and pain I can endure for my kin and kindred. The man and woman I thmolome street’s. The unknown stranger,.

    Like

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