Ground Floor Guidance (Dale & Oliver)
Having addressed Norman, it was natural to ask about the other person noticeably missing---Shane. A simple question, Oliver’s response immediately signaled something about the question made him uncomfortable. And what I love about Dale is that she didn’t avoid the conversation---she pressed into it.
There is something to be inferred about Dale’s state of mind---and heart---in this moment. During the intervening time between Lost Without You and Home Again, Dale made peace with the fact that “nothing [was finally] happen[ing]” between her and Oliver. Her admission that “[she] figured” meant she had already embraced the possibility and began the process of accepting the reality in her heart. We may never know the exact mechanism through which this soul-searching occurred, but the evidence of it, and the peace it produced, were on full display in the lobby as we watched Dale “let go” of Oliver.
Though Oliver didn’t seem to know it, Dale understood that Oliver needed, “somebody like Shane to shake [him] up a little.” Because Dale and Oliver both “solve their problems by finding where the lines are and following the rules,” it was clear to Dale she was incapable of “shak[ing] [Oliver] up” in the way he needed. Shane, however, “colors outside the lines.” And while Oliver was quick to call the product of “put[ting] [him and Shane] together” in this context “a mess,” Dale challenged him to see the contrast as “something beautiful.” This perspective provided Oliver a critical lense for viewing, and operating in, his relationship with Shane.
Lines, Rules & Colors
What struck me about this brief exchange about lines, rules and colors is that it contained a considerable amount of depth that reached to the core nature of Shane and Oliver’s relationship, which Dale seemed to intuitively grasp and apply wisdom to.
In order for Shane to “color outside the lines”---and break the rules---there had to be someone to draw or identify those lines or rules, and Oliver has always been that someone. Similarly, in order for Oliver to grow, he needed someone to challenge those drawn or identified lines, which Shane has always done. It’s a cyclical push-pull exchange that causes each of them to grow. Naturally resistant to that cycle and the “shak[ing] up” it often produces, Oliver, perhaps jokingly, identified it as “a mess.” Dale, however, had the peace and presence of mind to gently confront that resistance and call it “beautiful.”
Although Dale likely wasn’t cognizant of the depth of understanding she possessed, her articulation of the concept of lines, rules and colors had a profound impact on shaping Oliver’s relationship with Shane.
An Unexpected Consequence (Oliver & Shane)
As discussed in Fit To Frame: Shane’s Home Again Wardrobe, Shane’s uneasiness about the reintroduction of Dale to the picture caused her to begin testing the boundaries of her relationship with Oliver in a variety of ways. It’s important to note that all of Oliver’s responses to these efforts were informed, likely subconsciously, by Dale’s encouragement to embrace Shane’s tendency to “color outside the lines,” which, early on, caused him to concede or acquiesce to her every advance.
Once a cause of instability, Dale’s ability to “let go” ultimately helped clarify and establish Shane and Oliver’s relationship.
Closing The Loop (Shane & Dale)
Once again, it would have been very easy for Dale to allow the conversation to end with Shane’s comment, “Now we have to find a way to break it to the Kellsers.” Instead, Dale chose to pick up on the “we” and reassure Shane that “[she and Oliver] would find it” and “do just fine.” Because Dale accepted that Shane was what Oliver truly needed in his life, she was able to recognize and honor Shane’s ability to “think outside the box” in this case. And although that ability subsequently opened the Kellser case to “a mess,” Dale encouraged Shane to lean into Oliver in the midst of the “mess” to find the solution. Once counseling Oliver in how to relate to Shane, Dale was now inviting Shane to engage Oliver in the same manner. More importantly, to “do just fine” meant Dale expected a positive outcome for the pair.
Whether Dale meant to intentionally close the loop on pointing Oliver and Shane to each other is unclear, but her actions certainly advanced that outcome, and gave Dale the opportunity to prove the totality with which she was able to let go of Oliver.
Understanding she was not what Oliver truly needed, she not only pointed him towards Shane, but encouraged him to pursue her in a way that embraced their differences while growing their bond. When given the opportunity, Dale encouraged Shane to do the same. It’s a measure of love that few possess, but which Dale thoroughly illustrated in Home Again.
Coloring It In,
The Art Of Letting Go: Part I | Part II
P.S. We're down to the FINAL ROUND of Mailbox Madness and voting opened this morning. See which quotes made it to the Big Dance and how to participate here.