Monday, May 27, 2013

Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.

Lord knows that's been what I've been thinking, now, and probably most every day for the last nearly seven years.  When you spend a good share of your day with people you don't really know, who really don't know you, but you can potentially have meaningful communication with, your reputation is all you have.  Everything is impression management.  The careless suffer.  There's not much room for nuance or sophistication.

Anyone who really knows me, knows there's a lot going on in this mind of mine, but seldom does it amount to anything other than meandering rambles.  They know that when it comes to things I Want to do, I simply pursue them.  If it takes me a long time to make up my mind and get off the fence, then I already know that my desire is less than my apprehension about the risks that come with said pursuit.  I try and go with my best judgement without being judgmental.

It's strange because I often find myself trying to protect people from protecting my feelings.  I'm hyper aware of my flaws and shortcomings.  Thanks to my experiences in school, where cruel insults and belittlement was the past-time, I can point out other people's flaws as well, but that's petty.  The thing is, in my mind, any confidence I may present that to others seems out of place is simply my way of acknowledging that I know we are all masking/ hiding/ overcoming insecurities of one sort or another.  In a world without deception, or dishonesty, a world of full disclosure, would things be healthier?

In seven years here's what I've learned about communication in my current situation:

What seems most obvious is usually the truth, and sad as it is, the cynical viewpoint, though it may close the door on what seems like potentially positive social relationships, is going to serve my best interest and emotional well-being the most.  When you set yourself apart with your actions or inaction, you alienate yourself from those who chose other ways to live.  That compounds any aesthetic or cultural incongruity involved.  If people really want to relate to you, they will.  If they don't relate to you, then leave it alone.  If you can't be yourself with the people you're with, and can't justify changing to fit in (cause let's be honest, sometimes the problem is internal), then you're not with the right people.

If you can't agree on the terms of a deal, there's no deal.  Every social relationship is a deal/ exchange, because communication is an exchange of information and meaning.  If I keep failing to communicate, and have a hard time understanding what's being communicated to me, so much so that I have to step on toes... well, I have big feet, and I don't want to be known as the guy who always steps on peoples' toes.  I put people on edge enough as it is.  I'd rather just leave well enough alone and find somewhere with people it's easier to communicate with or less necessary to do so on the level at which I have to where I am.

At some point I've just grown wary of people being so delicate to each other face to face, but callous and caustic behind each others backs.  If there's an elephant in the room, I want to talk about it, give it a peanut, a magic feather, let it take wing and fly free.  If I'm not the only one who feels that way, no one is comfortable telling me.  That's how I know I'm in the wrong place given what I value and my convictions.  I'm in so many wrong places...

So, maybe I should have been praying this refrain day in and day out all this time?  But then, I should know by now that people believe what they want to, filter out what doesn't coalesce with their disposition.  I was educated to be objective and question my perceptions and biases, and even when I fail to do that, it's in my head, so much so that I tell myself "You are failing to see the whole picture, be very careful."  That is another red flag that denotes excessive emotional entanglement and feedback interfering with effective communication.  It's like living under a threat level.  That's not what I signed up for, not what any of us signed up for.

All of this has me looking back at definitions of passive-aggressive behavioral tendencies, to see if I have fallen into them, or am being felled by them.  The answer is yes.  This seems to be the normative behavior in the environments where I find myself uncomfortable, and I'm uncomfortable with that too.  I know who and what I want to be to other people, and alienated, detached, disingenuous, and passive-aggressive are not on the list, but all seem to be traits that are all too common.  I'm going to just go with a strong dose of detached for the foreseeable future and pray to God that it's enough.  Let go and Let God right?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You Can Do What You Want To Whenever You Want To.

The blessing and curse of solitude is that you can make your own decisions about how you spend your time, so long as you don't require the presence of anyone else.  Eat when you want, sleep when you want, read, write, dance, play, cry, pray, all at your own leisure, until your body relents.  It's a bit of a trap because once you get a taste of peaceful solace, the pitfalls of coexistence become magnified.  That's not to say that the perks of coexistence don't stand out when you find yourself alone when you would rather have company or support, it does happen from time to time.  You can do bad by yourself, but why do bad when you can do better?  That's the challenge.

Left to your own devices, maybe it's easier to see when you're being your own worst enemy, or maybe it's easier to delude yourself into thinking you're serving your own best interest?  This is why a Healthy Perspective is a Godsend.  We're lost without it, and seldom do we find it all by our lonesome.  Thank the Lord for the written word.  Ideas, transcribed, and clearly communicated, can open our eyes to certain truths we'd otherwise deny.  But, who says you have to do anything if there's only you to answer to?  It's a mixed blessing at best, a combination of liberation and condemnation, sort of like the song quoted (and linked) in the title above: equal parts content and defeated. Some ask, "What's the point in living if all you are doing is expediting your death?"  That's a good question.  Irreconcilable schisms invoke Nihilism, which usually precedes self-negation.  It's the people who love you, and love having you in their life that can make the difference, otherwise...

"You can do what you want to,
whenever you want to,
though it doesn't mean a thing,
Big nothing."

~ Elliott Smith

Saturday, May 18, 2013

If I Told You A Secret, You Won't Tell A Soul, Will You Hold It and Keep It Alive?

I've had a lot on my mind for what seems like a lifetime.  I've been harboring guilt and shame for things I did when I was 4 years old for the last 33 years, on top of every sinful thought and deed that's followed.  Then on top of my own immorality rests the transgressions of others that I have been witness to, and not confronted or exposed.  We truly are born into sin if you look at your existence as a collective experience inclusive of all that you take in vicariously through the actions and feelings of others around you.

I picked this song, Travis's Love Will Come Through, simply because I am at a loss for songs as of late, my literary mood has been elusive.  Much like with my conscience, I can turn off my internal monologue and give "having perspective" a rest and just live moment to moment.  It seems like a shortcut to escapism in a way.  Well, I've decided to just embrace that inner monologue, and embrace my conscience.  I had a dream last night that egged me on.

I was in some sort of situation where some strangers were asking something of me.  I felt put out and alienated by whatever they asked, and maybe I snapped a little?  One of these strangers transformed before my eyes, and admonished me for displaying a temper.  The person became bird-like somehow to my eyes, but in some ways still human.  It was a dream, and I could visually represent it with an illustration perhaps?  The power of this entity's voice and tone conveyed an otherworldly authority.  I woke up thinking about whether I do have a temper problem, and how that will be judged in the eyes of Righteousness.

I'd like to think I have a decent amount of control over my emotions.  I always felt I'd come a long way since my early childhood where I would "go crazy" when upset, or my adolescence when I would punch holes in the drywall.  But yeah, I am still an emotional person who's developed a lot of healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms to prevent the unflattering emotional outbursts of my youth.  Part of my problem may have been my active disassociation from my childhood and adolescence once I was able to literally escape it by relocating for college and severing most of those ties, or re-establishing them on adult terms.   I may have thought I got over being angry and holding grudges, but I still have a bent for resentment that I wrestle with.  I want to think I'll come out on the better side of that struggle more often that not.

With age and experience people get set in their ways, or so I've been warned.  That flies in the face of the saying "learning is a life-long process." Whoever said that learning has to result in the application of that knowledge? I say this all the time, but it never fails to be true, "Just because you know better doesn't mean you'll do better."  Knowing Better and Doing Better are related ideas, but that doesn't mean the prior will result in the latter.  All that said, I'm reminded of a principle I was introduced to from a radio sermon that I used to offer as perspective to friends and strangers alike, "Love without honesty is cruelty. Honestly without love is brutality."

Anyway if we must err in this life, I hope we err on the side of True (Honest) Love.  I hope I can, and do.  Sometimes I wonder.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mouthful of Cavities

There are days like these, where life's interactions leave me feeling the same way I've felt the last few times I've gone to the dentist, dating back to 1998.  It's that feeling of learning that a part of you hasn't held up and needs to be salvaged or extricated or it will only cause you pain.  The reality of your fragility, the vulnerability that comes with being human can be unsettling.  But it's reality, and there's something to be said for living with  reality in mind.  The pragmatist would say to focus on what's possible, what's realistic, what's attainable, and learn to appreciate it and you will be a happier person for it.  The problem with people is that they aren't rational all the time.  We give our selves fits and make our selves sick negotiating the knotted emotions we get wrapped up in.

Eventually reality reigns supreme, and  that emotional bubble gets burst by the spike that's been looming in the periphery all along.  It's a sudden, steep descent, and it leaves you feeling all out of sorts.  Other times it's like a spoonful of the worst tasting medicine being lifted to your mouth slowly when you're already nauseated and on the verge of being physically ill.  You wont get better if you don't take the dose, and doing so may turn your stomach and make you feel even sicker.  Or maybe it's like that sharp pain of the injection going into your gum-line that numbs you before the dentist engages his drill to fill a cavity?  Either way, what at one point is a fullness of feeling is vacated, and the emptiness in its wake leaves you feeling bewildered, wondering, "What is this? What just happened?"

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Remember

If I can trust my recollection, with this song Rene' Spencer Saller exposed me to the best sounding rock I'd heard from a quasi-local band.  I heard it and wished it was the new Pearl Jam song I vaguely recall the DJ saying they were going to play, but I don't think it was.  Maybe, it's just the slower tempo of the bridge that makes me thing of one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs, Light Years?  I do recall that the first time I heard Light Years, it was on David Letterman, and it renewed my faith in them, maybe even elevated it. Having seen the linked video of PJ dedicating Light Years to a departed friend just made the sentiment of the song, or this moment, strike a deeper nerve, and say more about the emotion inspiring this blog than I could have ever hoped to.

In short, remembering someone, in thought, and action, and honoring that memory seems to be the essence of what it means to Love them. Remembering their favorite things, remembering their stories, remembering to call and check in on them, remembering dates important to them.  They become unforgettable to you.  Their impact on your life becomes indelible.  The weight of having lost a loved one is their memory gaining a gravity you can only measure once their presence is gone physically.  The space they took up in your life and imagination becomes all too real as just that, space.  People live on as recollections, as ideas.  That was the notion I was sharing with one of my coworkers who is kind enough to discuss such personal matters with me candidly.  Much like the songs I've linked, memory can be an invigorating jolt, or a serene night listening to the rain make its way from heaven to earth.

For me, I realize I must have forgotten how to desire acceptance and love as a child does.  I can thank my Great Nieces and Nephews for reminding me of what that feels like, what it means to our hearts.  They catalyzed a change in me.  It's been a process, but I recognize that feeling.  A family member said, "He'd make a good father." not long ago in my regard.  It was a high compliment, but also highlighted the reality that I'm not a father.  I remember talking with my mother a year or so prior, lamenting on my solitary state of being, not having a family (other than the one I was born into) or children, nor pursuing either because of my own self-absorbed preoccupations & interests.  She pointed out the very same Great Nieces and Nephews as my children in spirit, as my family, in that I can be a Father-like figure to them, even though I'm their Great Uncle.  It was humbling, because it highlighted the responsibility and commitment I was avoiding in my life. I had no desire to live with the ramifications of someone else's personal choices.  I was subject to them so long in life that I developed a perhaps unhealthy apprehension for co-dependence on any level.

But who wants to be truly alone, with no one to reach out to, no one to share the beauty of life with?  Who wants to live a life without someone they want to honor, to make joyful with their accomplishments and expressions of affection and appreciation?  It took being a part of the formative years of young lives to remind me that the answer to those questions was not Willie Edward Smith Junior.  It took embracing the memory of my own formative years, happy and sad, after the loss of another soul who took part in defining them to bring me back around.  Sometimes remembering is the only way to come back to feeling, to being human.  It can be emotional, but it's what we are.  I have grown to cherish every opportunity I have to share these recollections of experiences and emotions from my own growth, and the growth of the children I have played a small part in raising.  The people who have been generous with their time, their thoughts, and their own recollections have taken up real estate in my heart because it's allowed me to remember what love is and how essential it is to our beings.  It's an incredible thing, like swallowing the warming light of the sun and shining it on someone.  I see why we try and pretend it doesn't exist when it's not present in our lives, or the situations we wish it would permeate.  It's not something you soon forget.