Category Archives: Personal Ruminations
The usual self-indulgent ramblings on whatever may be weighing on my mind.
I recently received an email from an old friend accusing me of not blogging enough because I’m afraid of criticism and that, in general, I just don’t take things seriously enough.
Unfortunately he’s right on both counts.
The main reason I don’t write is fear. But not – as my friend supposed – fear of criticism. Rather I have a fear of the Truth.
I find it nearly impossible to lie on paper. Not fiction writing, which is imaginary, but the same types of communication we each have all day every day with everyone – including ourselves. Er…huh?
Each day we arise and begin the lie telling process. Not big lies, but small ones to grease the wheels of a smoother day.
Maybe it starts with a look in the mirror to brush our hair as we neglect to notice the increasing amount of grey therein, or conveniently focusing only on our shoulders and above so as not to notice the increase in sag and spread around our middle.
It continues as we pretend not to mind the small, tasteless, and unhealthy sustenance we consume on our way out the door or that we grab on our commute. Sure, sure – we all love that whatever filled breakfast burrito/sandwich/pastry and our coffee/frappa/whatever. And we love eating it all the time – even if we know (on some suppressed level of awareness) that each bite/sip brings us closer to illness and death by way of clogged arteries and gastrointestinal failure.
How many small lies have we told? And we’re not even into the meat of the day – interpersonal interactions.
“How ya doin John?”
“Just great Matt!”
Um, yeah…I think you’re going to have to angle to get your nose through the door…ok, there you go. And it goes on throughout the day with greater and lesser “grease” to keep the day running smoothly.
These lies aren’t malicious, maybe they’re necessary. You don’t want to be seen as the “whiner” or as “rocking the boat”. Don’t mess with the status quo because who knows what the alternative is. Truth? The alternative really could be worse than the status quo.
So where was I going with all this? Back to the fact that I’m afraid to write, because I have an unfortunate habit of writing what my mis-firing neurons tell me is the truth. It may not be the truth as you see it, but that’s ok.
My problem is the truth is often not the way I WANT to see it, and once I’ve written it I have to confront the disparity between the fantasy world I want to believe in, and the real world my mind’s eye sees with unblinking starkness.
So, I simply neglect to write. I neglect to see. What’s that? The world’s fly is undone? Oh, I didn’t notice. The world didn’t bathe or brush it’s teeth? I didn’t notice that either.
Oh look! There’s a shiny new something or other I can obsess over so I don’t have to notice all the other stuff I don’t really want to.
Which brings me (in my usual rambling way) to the second point. I don’t take things seriously enough.
Can you blame me? How many people died needlessly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somali, Darfur, Rwanda, or where-ever this week? How many children we’re abused, molested, abandoned, or worse? How many people are suffering from a horrible fatal illness? How many people are unemployed? How many people are losing their homes?
Ok, what? Too serious? How “serious” is enough?
So no. I don’t take many things seriously enough.
If I did, I might never stop crying.
Maybe I’ll start writing a little more frequently, maybe not. In any case I hope the world and I can keep up this tenuous truce of mutual neglect.
I was thinking this morning on what it means to “nurture” and “support”.
It occurred to me that many individuals confuse responsibility and obligation with being nurturing.
When you choose to have a child you become obligated to care (literal not figurative) for that child. At the least you must perform actions as required by law.
Feed, clothe, maintain its health, educate it – if only out of self-interest so the child doesn’t remain dependent on you any longer than necessary.
None of those actions is nurturing, they should be natural actions of any mammal for its young. Of course we only have to watch the news about how horribly children are abused to see the lie in that assumption.
What then is nurturing?
Nurturing are those acts you take that enhance the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual status or development of another. Nurturing can be as simple as “Good Job!”, as difficult as an intervention for an addict, or as painful as holding the hand of the dying.
Nurturing means being there for someone else when you DON’T have to be.
Some people mistakenly believe that every act of self sacrifice is nurturing.
However sometimes self sacrifice falls under your aforementioned responsibilities and obligations. For example, going to your child’s parent/teacher conference instead of out to see a movie. Not nurturing, just obligation. Or not spending $75 on a new pair of shoes so you can buy school supplies. Not nurturing, just obligation.
What then is “support”? Support is the action part of nurturing.
A quick clarification – “Moral support” isn’t support. It’s wishful thinking.
It is akin to saying “I wish you well and success in your endeavors” – lip service, not support.
Support are those tasks you undertake to assist another in the completion of theirs, without actually doing theirs.
Frequently this can be thought of as a team, people supporting each other towards a common goal.
Like nurturing, people often assume that they are “supporting” someone simply because they said, “I support you”.
For example –
Spouse 1: “Honey, I have a really big and very important project I’ll be working on for the next two months. I could really use your support on this.”
Spouse 2: “Of course dear, you know you have my support!”
Spouse 1 returns home at late having been gone since 5am
Spouse 1: “Honey, did you make dinner?”
Spouse 2: “No dear.”
Spouse 1: “Ok, I’ll just fix myself something.”
Spouse 1: “Honey, I’m not seeing anything in the fridge except some left over curry I brought home last week.”
Spouse 2: “Yeah, we need to go shopping.”
Spouse 1 returns home after another exhausting day.
Spouse 1: “Honey, I’m really hungry. Did you go shopping?”
Spouse 2: “No, but there’s some leftover sushi from lunch in the fridge.”
Spouse 1: “Ok, but I can’t find any dishes…”
Spouse 2: “Yeah, the dishwasher needs to be loaded.”
Spouse 1: “Did you unload the pots and pans?”
Spouse 2: “No, I never got to it.”
Spouse 1: “Honey, I’m really hungry. Did you go shopping?”
Spouse 2: “No, but I haven’t eaten either, let’s just order in.”
Spouse 1: “Ok, what do you want to eat?”
Spouse 2: “Oh, I don’t know – but no pizza or chinese…”
Spouse 1: “Ok…no pizza or chinese…any other thoughts?”
Spouse 2: “No, not really. I could go for some steak.”
Spouse 1: “Steak delivery………Ok, where from?”
Spouse 2: “Oh, I don’t know, can’t you look it up on the internet?”
Spouse 1: “……………Alright, I’ll go look……..”
You get the idea. Substitute any task that Spouse 1 can’t complete because they are too busy working on the important project they told Spouse 2 about.
Spouse 1 gave Spouse 2 a heads up, Spouse 2 said no problem.
If Spouse 2 had been honest and said “I wish you well and success in your endeavor, however I will not be able to support your efforts”, then at least Spouse 1 would know they were on their own and could adjust their lifestyle and behaviours accordingly.
Once you know you can’t rely on someone for support, 1) you don’t have to deal with the disappointment of the support being lacking or non-existent, and 2) you can make all the necessary arrangements yourself.
I have more to say on this subject, but I’ve got a headache and am tired of thinking…L8R
I have failed to learn how to communicate in an “adult” fashion.
I believe the word they use is “assertiveness”, I lack “assertiveness”.
Instead I rely on passive/aggressive communication modes, or allow my anger to communicate for me.
Neither method is particular effective.
Direct honest communication – that’s the ticket – or at least that’s what I’m told.
But what kind of heartless S.O.B. must you be if you can look into the eyes of people you care about and tell them things that might even have a slim possibility of hurting them.
The counter to the “pain avoidance” argument is that humans require pain for learning. Without pain no one has the incentive to change. Of course pain doesn’t even begin to ensure change, and even if change results you can never be sure the results were what you wanted. The changes could be positive or negative from any number of viewpoints.
The change could be positive for you and negative for them; e.g. they give you the last slice of pizza.
Or negative for you, but positive for them; e.g. they dump your ass.
Or negative for both of you; e.g. they begin abusing drugs to avoid the pain inflicted.
So is change good or bad? Neither, it’ just change – but bringing about change is always a risk.
That sounds a lot like the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument.
While I’m an ardent supporter of gun rights, that particular argument has always stuck me as specious.
I mean seriously, inanimate objects never DO anything!
Back to the problem of communication.
Even in seemingly routine communication you can’t be sure the message you meant to send is the message received.
He said “The dress is too tight”, she heard “You’re ass is fat”.
What he meant was “I love the curves on your body, but that dress is flattening all those gorgeous curves.”
She said “I have a headache”, He heard “You’re crap in bed and I don’t love you enough to put up with it”. What she meant was “My sinuses have been killing me all day and it feels like someone shoved knitting needles in my eyes.”
So why don’t people say what they mean?
Because being mindful of how what you say will be received is a cognitively intensive process, and because no matter how mindful you are of both the delivery and possible interpretation of your message, it can still be misinterpreted by the receiver.
Even worse, you can say what you mean, the other person can perfectly understand what you mean, and not care.
Of all possible interpretations – to me – this is the most painful. When what you have to say is discarded as irrelevant, unimportant, or not acknowledged at all. (ooh, rather like this blog…)
“Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.” – Homer Simpson
Having attempted mindful assertive communications, and having had them not work (ok, fail spectacularly), I’m inclined to resort to the communications modes I learned before age 5.
After all they seemed to work.
Although I’m not quite sure how to throw a temper tantrum in an e-mail…
“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” – Homer Simpson