1. a person who watches or who keeps watch.
1. For every vampire slayer or group of vampire slayers, there is a mentor or advisor – someone who knows all there is to know about vampires and vampire slaying. The slayer may be the “vampire extinguisher,” so to speak, but he or she is usually not what you'd call the “vampire scholar.” That job belongs to the Watcher.
from The Practical Vampire Slayer, by Me
In case you've never heard this before: 12-step groups have this totally brilliant practice of suggesting to their newcomers that they find and enlist the help of a "sponsor" -- of someone who has experience with the 12-steps of the recovery program and who will offer their personal experience and support to the newcomer as they are getting the hang of their recovery program.
And sponsors are not just for newcomers, either: they are members who, for any other member, are there to bounce their thoughts off of, to safely and confidentially air their complaints to, to offer another point of view from their own, and to help them apply the principles of recovery (12 steps) to their lives.
What a joy I was!
This way of living: to identify and ask for help from one who knows the road I'm travelling better than I works so well for me that it has spilled over into just about every area of my life. I've got sponsors all over the place - only now, as a practical vampire slayer - I call them my "Watchers."
One of them is my friend Jennifer, who, a few months ago when I could not get myself out of bed to finish my book's first draft by its deadline, made a tentative diagnosis of "book flu," and came running with soup, tea, a bread so deliciously unique I don't even know what it's called, and a commitment to share her experience (and considerable expertise) with me that day until we got the thing finished. So besides being one of my best friends, she is also my Writing Watcher.
When I got my diagnosis of cancer and went to see a doctor who'd been recommended to me by the woman who'd diagnosed my cancer, I found and adopted another kind of Watcher, this one to watch over my cancer. Not only did I trust her because of her obvious confidence, but also because she told me something that I'm not sure she even remembers today: she told me, "I know you." And did she ever.
That's happened to me maybe once before in my life -- a girl in my 7th grade class named Lisa Whittet had my number so fast it made my head swim. And we didn't even hang out together! But she knew me - just like this doctor did.
Cancer is definitely one of those things you need a good Watcher for - as most of us, never having had cancer before, are pretty quick to admit. In other cases though: maybe not so fast. And that's what we're going to talk about in Part II of this post: about those other less desperate cases - where we need our Watchers badly, only, for some reason, we don't know it.
Note: These posts are dedicated to Dr. Loren Rourke: Surgeon, Watcher, and Promise-Keeper extraordinaire.