Healthy relationships and stability start inside each of us

It’s been my fault, and I’m ready to admit it – and even take it a step further; I’m doing something about it. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault that I overextended myself, made promises I couldn’t keep, and generally drove myself into the ground trying to be all things to all people, while ending up being nothing to almost all of them in the process. No one forced me to keep going until I was exhausted and depleted, no one held a gun to my head and said “you can’t stop, you must meet every challenge ahead of schedule.”

It really, truly, and deeply is only one person’s responsibility to properly take care of me and that is… ME!

It’s not my husband’s job, although he’s kind enough to help. It’s not my employer’s job, although society is so dysfunctional that they’re taking it upon themselves to offer advice since people are not successfully caring for themselves at all now. It’s not my friends’ job, they’ve got their own problems, and as much as I can lean on them that’s different than being cared for by them. It’s not my kid’s job to recognize when I’m fatigued and burned out either, it’s my job to keep myself from it in the first place.

I’ve realized now how very vital it is to see my own mental health as important as the physical health that is just as affected by all this. I’ve come to see it’s up to me to take care of myself every single day, good, bad, or indifferent. I still want to accomplish things, which means I can’t just work myself to the bone and then collapse in a useless heap.

Taking care of myself does not mean simply shutting down or retreating when overworked. Behaving that way means I’m not moderating my efforts effectively. Hiding and disconnecting completely is a sign of not setting appropriate boundaries, or not choosing actions with enough forethought or consideration.

I’m recognizing my own limits and working to modulate that work output in the outset. It’s up to me to decide how to utilize my time and efforts to best effect. To rely on others to direct my work or rest is not only burdensome to them, it’s inappropriate. No one should need to tell me that perhaps I’m just tired or hungry, it’s my job to know when I’m in need of something. Whether it’s physical or emotional rest, I need to take it when I can, and make time for it when it seems to be detracting from productivity. Because productivity is unsustainable without a well prepared individual to get the work done well and efficiently.

Consider how often you’re tired and busy, and take it seriously when it’s time to commit to the next thing. Because saying “no, thank you” right now is hard, but failing others over it does not do anyone any favors in the long run. And if you can manage to say “no, thank you” at the right moments, it opens up more opportunities to enjoy it when you say “yes” and choose to spend time with others in your life who you care about and who care about you in return.

Fetuses don’t need empty promises, and neither do their moms

Don’t you dare blow smoke up her ass. she’s got enough shit to deal with. don’t you dare make promises you can’t keep. you’re only setting her up for wicked failure and she doesn’t need that in her life.

so if you’re not prepared to help her through her daughter’s first period or teaching her son to drive, don’t you dare say shit while she’s pregnant. if you won’t be there day in and day out to wipe away her tears, make kids lunches or answer their questions about inequity and the nature of the universe before she’s had her morning coffee, then you need to just fuck off already.

don’t tell her you’ll be there for her when what you mean is you’ll be there for yourself when you want something cute to hold and smile at but give back when it starts to smell bad. if you don’t plan on making dinner when she’s deadbeat tired or doing the dishes afterwards, when the kid is 7 or 8, then don’t make empty promises.

pregnant women don’t need your half baked plans or assurances, and they don’t need your pity or your excitement. they need help cleaning up all the trappings of childhood before they can be strewn around again like nothing ever happened.

if you’re not going to do the laundry at least twice a week, every week, until her kids are through with college, then just keep your trap shut; don’t you dare open it up. when people talk about babies keep your ridiculous high pitched noises and that self-serving reframing language to yourself.

let her make the decision that is really in front of her – am I ready to do this when everyone else gets too busy and tired to help anymore?

Laboring under misapprehensions

Countless occasions have come and passed without getting proper attention. They arise, things transpire, and yet we are missing some things… there are fundamental understandings. Frequently people make basic assumptions about shared knowledge or experience between us. They think they have fully assessed a situation and all of its ramifications. For whatever reason people believe they know how to correctly interpret the motivations of others. Largely things happen and move on because they are fine, and of course technically it all turns out in the end.

The trouble with too many assumptions and heavy conjecture on our part, is an overwhelming lack of evidence that is more than just a few seeds of doubt. Too often by far people take something and run with it, despite the fact that they’re wrong. They’ve miscalculated somewhere, be it people’s intentions, or their plans for the future, someone’s background or what they value.

As much as we all must at some point decide, and move on with our own actions regardless, our initial assessment should not stand alone if we have the opportunity to confirm it. Treating someone as if we know for sure what they mean, or how they feel is pretty presumptuous. Regardless of how much communication you have engaged in before, this time could very well be different. And if you confirm all the suspicions you had built up to now, there’s certainly no harm in gaining some surety of it.

It’s actually quite often we’ve gotten something wrong in the course of a series of happenings. Things move quickly, with lots of moving pieces, and it’s hard to keep track of everything. People forget, misconstrue or jump to conclusions. Perhaps we missed part, heard wrong, or simply didn’t understand one another. Giving others the benefit of the doubt should be our default bare minimum of courtesy.

Asking a few clarifying questions is the best way to go, but sometimes that still leads to strife. People often assume that type of question to mean we don’t agree with their assertion, or that we’re questioning their right to assert it.  The unfortunate part about that is the fact that it tends to come from a little shame around what they’ve been saying or doing. People can’t stand getting caught and would rather get away with everything. Putting a fine point on exactly what they said can be really uncomfortable. But if they said or did it in the first place, shouldn’t it bear repeating so we can all be clear?

Why wouldn’t people clarify before not just assuming the worst, but acting on that feeling as if it were true? A few simple questions or reflective statements to assure we’re on the same page goes quite a long way towards mutual understanding. But I think that’s where I can get caught up sometimes, because I always come into communication wanting to make sure we all understand each other. It seems to me now, less and less a priority for people in conversation. They instead are just waiting for others to finish so they can get on with proclaiming what they feel.

They don’t want to make sure and be thorough or complete, they want to throw caution to the wind at every turn. They think they are understood and that they understand already, they basically think that this entire talk was unnecessary. And I sit back trying to find a way to clue them in to the conversation before them. Because if we already understood each other so well, nobody would be sitting here saying all this stuff.

It’s not just that these little misunderstandings occur, because alone they’re not that terrifying. But laboring under misapprehensions can quickly escalate to affecting more important things. Making decisions like whether or not to stay with a partner, get a pet or have a baby… nothing of real value or consequence should be clouded by misunderstanding. No one should have to go on living with problems that could be resolved with a good dose of honesty.

I’ve watched people live their lives, year after year, going on information that’s incomplete or just plain wrong. It’s like watching Wuthering Heights play out before me, knowing it’s all just a case of someone who misconstrued something or someone, like a child’s game of “telephone”. I can’t fathom why they would continue to suffer and labor without doing anything to ease their discomfort. Especially if you’re unhappy with something someone said or did to you in particular.

We have all seen people feel so much better when what’s bothering them gets worked out and they get resolution. Anyone who would avoid achieving that greatness is being ruled by insecurity or fear, I would bet. I hope folks can find a way to see that feeling hurt for years is way worse than the alternative. An uncomfortable afternoon or even full week it might take to find closure with some direct action is entirely worth it. It’s also fundamentally more respectful of others and ourselves in this process.

 

 

 

 

Ethics – Geek Out on The New Morality

Move over Andy, there’s a new sherriff in town. Right and wrong have been turned upside down in modern culture, and people are using it in different ways than before. When we look at morality in culture, we can first agree that those waters are plenty muddy, whether we’re talking about the definitions of right, wrong, and morality, or their applications in our lives. I may circle back around to it, but I do want to acknowledge at the outset that most people have flexible morals that shift and change, especially when they feel cornered or challenged. Although it’s always been done, lately, it seems more common for people to use morality to back up what they’re doing, or what they’re espousing, rather than guide those things along.

Of the major modern changes in moral trends, there is an overarching theme I believe I’ve found. It’s pervasive in media and is being strongly reinforced there, as well as online. The basic concept is that there is a style of morality that is thought to be “evolved” or “advanced”, and the major feature it sports is deviation from consistency. It has been called “postconventional morality”, although few people are achieving that, so I’ll continue to use my “new morality” term to describe what I believe people are actually doing. The new morality is using personal judgment to override existing moral constraints – largely in the name of eschewing outdated cultural norms that are restrictive or oppressive.

What’s important to realize is that this scenario is full of assumptions. The main ones being that the initial moral code we’re describing is religious in nature, or otherwise equally rooted in cultural practices that were established generations ago. As much as I’d like to separate morality from culture, it’s pretty ingrained. So many folks assume that morality supports social constructs like misogyny and discrimination. The assumptions are too many to number here… but suffice it to say morality is currently seen as a sort social extortion mechanism.

When we realize those connections, it’s easier to understand why folks want to step outside of morality – it’s a concept seen as the backbone of social control. People do use morality to back up what they’re saying or doing, and as such we shouldn’t blame morality for the failings of culture. That said, the moral code we abide by should be altered or reimagined, rather than just avoided or circumvented. That’s because morality has always been the basis for those judgment calls we make so often, and if we don’t have a moral compass, people fall back on physiological desires and fears to guide them instead. More importantly, the concept of having a moral code is to help us collectively drive a conceptual image of how we can improve ourselves and the world around us, it’s our ability to behave beyond instinct.

Much of the stress around morality could be resolved if more people could realize that their problem is not with morality as a concept. Their problem is with it being used as a tool – be it by religions, organizations or individuals. What folks need to realize is that there are various sets of moral and ethical codes worth considering and using in our daily lives to help direct our intentions and actions toward greater good. No one has to reinvent this wheel, they just have to discover that their upbringing had limited their understanding that wheels come in all shapes and sizes, and that there are vehicles we could choose that better suit our needs.

That better vehicle is ethics. Morals and ethics may seem to be overlapping, but the difference lies in the basis or reasoning.

From Kant to Kohlberg, the idea of extending our actions to a universal model is not new. This vision helps us determine if something is appropriate based on whether or not the behavior would be sustainable if all people behaved that way, or if we each behaved that way all the time. It’s a great way to determine if something should be done or not. I see it in opposition to what has been called territorial ethics, which focuses on consequences, and whether or not a consequence impedes on the territory of another. That’s basically the “no harm no foul” idea, which may be great in a pick-up b-ball game… but if no one is in the forest to hear it, the falling tree still does make a sound, and that sound is loud.

To say that consequences should be the only determining factor in morality is a misunderstanding of the foundations of morality as a concept. Focusing on whether or not negative consequences have arisen due to an action at that time is nothing but subjectivity to power games and robs the individual of genuine free will to choose right actions based on their merit. It replaces that genuine morality with a system of external punishment and reward rather than cultivating an internal capability to determine appropriate courses of action. The fact that an action didn’t spur negative consequences at this time does not mean that it could not, or that it will not, or that it makes it right anyway. That mentality is just a defense mechanism to support irresponsible behavior and is used by people who want to do inappropriate things and rely on external forces to moderate their behavior rather than control their own decisions in a respectful way.

Without a strong sense of morality, people are having a harder time achieving compassion and respect for others too, and part of that is because their new moral code is based on the individual experience (dubbed territorial ethics by Celia Green), rather than being based on what’s good for the group (dubbed tribal ethics by the same). And when the new morality so severely deviates away from the greater good, it gets farther from right and wrong and closer to a tool for manipulation – which was the complaint that drove people away from morality, so it shouldn’t be the result of the new morality, or the goal has not been achieved.

The foundations of ethical  systems lie in consistent and logical application of decision making skills that reinforce a framework of morals that have been examined and determined to be beneficial. There are many schools of thought, but most ethical systems focus on benefit and detriment in a way that sidesteps the cultural habit of inequity, as ethics are typically applied to all people equally. No one is obligated to take any of the established systems wholesale, but they are a great way to form a solid foundation based on reasoning rooted in observation and evaluation.

Learning about ethics can be very complicated and is well learned in conjunction with logic to maximize critical thinking and minimize regurgitation of indoctrination language.

If we don’t want to rely on external perspectives to control what we do, then it is up to us to develop an internal system that is not based on our feelings alone, but a broader perspective that seeks to reconcile our actions with their inherent merits in an effort to guide action toward benefit and away from detriment. Ethics are the answer!

Dirty Words – Part 1 of “All these isms”

The propaganda of times past painted socialism in the grimmest colors. We were told it was the antithesis of free will and independence. We were told it was a tool of control over the masses to make them all the same and subjugate them to the will of an ominous and oppressive government. This dim light it has been seen in by Western eyes plays tricks on their fragile minds. The emotional appeal to drive fear and stir panic run deep and have lasted longer than the wars that spawned it. The worst part of it all is this fundamental lack of knowledge about it.

Mechanisms of control are abundant in all forms of government because corruption is not from any school of thought. It strikes anyone and everyone who gets to enjoy power for long enough. It has nothing to do with philosophy or mindset, and everything to do with the individual’s greed and selfishness. It presents itself readily in Capitalism no less than in Socialism. Corruption cannot be blamed on the style or type of ogranization. It’s an entirely human shortcoming that stems from deep-seated fear or resentment.

As with any other form of cooperative living situation, Socialism fills a need for governmental organization. At some point it would be ridiculously cumbersome for each of us to be truly independent. Creating our own roads and schools might seem fun, but it sure would be hard to maintain. There are some things that most people agree should be handled by a central agency. Emergency services, infrastructure and foreign policy are just a few examples of industries best left to experienced professionals.

In that most basic sense, Westerners have Socialist tendencies – because it turns out it’s nice to be able to rely on clean water and consistent energy. Managing the larger and more complex social issues requires a body to tackle things in search of solutions. As great as it is to have a competitive market, it leaves much to be desired in meeting ongoing biological necessities. We all need certain minimums met to survive, and those needs should never be subject to the volatility of the free market if we can help it.

A funny part about it is that Socialism may be a more truly representative form of government than the republic Westerners love to hang their hats on. It’s a broad term to use, as are so many words, but for the sake of this argument we’ll narrow it to mean the widely known idea of “Democratic Socialism”. Shared ownership of the production of the necessities of life does not preclude anyone from participation in their dreams. It acknowledges humanity’s mutual destiny of living together forever. Westerners often don’t realize that they agree with a lot of it, but Socialism just calls for collaborative achievement.

Politics and culture intertwine, they can be difficult to distinguish, and they are quite strongly connected. Leaving a Capitalist mindset is frightening for those who have known nothing different, but that system comes with cultural values that are damaging to humans and the planet. The excessive abundance that Westerners crave is a comfort for those living in a world subject to change without notice. For whatever reason, it doesn’t occur to them that the entirety of the purpose of Socialism is to meet everyone’s basic needs, virtually eliminating that unpredictability factor. The emotional security that comes with market stability can significantly reduce unfulfilling, wasteful excess.

When they are told that commodities could be regulated, they fear heartless mechanization (funny coming from Capitalists, living that way each day right now). They expect to see every label on just a white field, with bold black typeface, plainly unformatted. They are told that if the group controls distribution that it means they have to wait in line for a handout. What people don’t see is a greater possibility that more likely, what it means is a wide seasonal variety. Instead of drab uniforms given out on a regular basis, it’s getting bespoke clothes that have been tailored just for each us (but maybe buttons wouldn’t cost so much).

People coming together to make decisions that benefit the total populace helps balance the inconsistencies we all experience, especially when those people are knowledgable. When we collectively organize by committee to manage industries, it means those in the know help control the flow of wholesale ingredients and materials. A certain amount of public control would be in place in terms of critical functions – like clean water and safe roadways. It enforces the application of skilled or experienced professionals in decision making processes that affect everyone. As admirable as it is for privatized versions to do their best to keep up, certain basic functions need to be consistent more than new and different. Letting everyone reinvent the wheel may honor their independence, but it does no honor to the rest of us who still have basic necessities.

The instability and volatility of modern markets is fine for many traded products. But it is deeply irresponsible to subject society to fragility in availability of necessary basics. People can continue to exercise freedom in a majority of industries. But focusing on infrastructure, human health and wellbeing should be considered vital to everyone. Let’s come together to gain agreements on our prioritites as a society in terms of universal similarities. When we have steady sources of life’s necessities it’s easier to spend time on frivolities.

Aside from assuring stability and security, there’s other reasons to change our minds about how we run things. The Capitalist cultural value of unending economic growth turns out to be in an immense burden on the proletariat, and is completely unsustainable in the long term. The cultural shift needed to accompany a Socialist governmental change is to one of respectfully caring for ourselves and our belongings. When we get to a place where we make things well the first time, and we’re willing to repair items before we replace them, we can move away from frantic overproduction. Convenience, planned obsolescence, and fad buying lead to constant depletion of the little resources people manage to obtain.

They don’t see that they’ve been run into the ground because Capitalist culture tells them that they are only temporarily embarrassed millionaires. The point that’s missed by the whole worldview there is that if we aren’t running away from the specter of poverty then it wouldn’t be so important to hoard every penny in fear for our lives. Instead of wishing and dreaming of being rich so we’re not poor, Socialism dreams of a world without poverty, so we don’t have to fear that worst case scenario. Instead of dangling the carrot of ascension to fortune at others’ expense, it dangles the carrot of relief from oppression at the expense of the perpetrator.

We all know it’s the right thing to do, to ensure that if people want access to society’s benefits, that they contribute their fair share too. It’s distinctly more fair and equal for all since society carries the poor, be the burden divided proportionately or not. Inevitably when I get to this part of the argument, a Capitalist must jump up and shout, “but the world wasn’t fair to begin with!” and I’ll tell you the same thing I told my mother when she wanted to placate me with cliches that explain away the world’s inadequacies. I looked at her, less than 12 years old, and said, “but the pursuit of justice is a worthy cause.”

Tough Enough

I don’t know how the rest of you aren’t toughened up. Why haven’t you been hardened? Maybe you haven’t been fucked over as thoroughly and often as I have been in this life. Maybe you’ve never met a hardship that wasn’t elementary at best. Perhaps although you have felt beset at times, the truth is that you have very little experience to draw from, insofar as you’ve come.

You’re so bright eyed and bushy tailed and freaking optimistic. How can you hope for so much all of the time and actually expect it to deliver? How is it you haven’t given up on trying to get what you need from this life or the people around you? Aren’t you tired of being the one to invest all your efforts just to be punished rather than rewarded?

Why don’t the years of disappointment, broken promises and stress wear on you? How come all this stuff weighs so heavy on my heart and my conscience? Why doesn’t this stuff stick in your craw, eat at you or turn you sour? How can you be so laissez-faire and easy going when another set of circumstances you can’t stop is around the corner?

On an existential level, it’s easy enough to know that it’s not personal. But in the grand scheme of things it’s hard not to believe at some times that I’m getting disproportionately shat on. Of course Bob Marley is right, every man think his burden is the heaviest. And I know mine is not, because I know I don’t need a tump line to carry it. I get that my problems are still 1st world at that. I do compare my struggles to the deeply oppressed. I know my problems aren’t that bad, but that’s not really what I was getting at.

Being hurt over and over again is one thing, and it really sucks. But that stuff coming from supposedly caring and committed loved ones is what really takes it to the next level. I can forgive the universe its whims in timing and delivery, but there’s a difference between happenstance and someone else’s failings causing my misery.

Considering the inconsistent nature of how things play out, I can forgive the random haphazardness of reality. But that very fact doesn’t allow me to continue to set my sights on happiness. Countless times I thought I had it made only to have the rug pulled out from under me. How many times does Lucy have to snatch the ball away at the last second before realizing I’ve become Charlie Brown, once again falling for it?

Wouldn’t I be the fool to set myself up again, waiting for so much failure? Wouldn’t it be silly for me to open up and be vulnerable just to be trampled again? What good does it do me to wish and hope that things will go in my favor? The likelihood of that in light of statistics is really quite dim to begin with. Why are so many people so intensely insistent that we set ourselves up for a let down?

If I already expect that it’s going to go wrong, turn sideways and shift in mid-air, it’s so much easier to prepare. I would rather hunker down, cover up with multiple layers, than sit out in the open waiting for some unknown terror. I’m not shutting down and retreating to my lair, but I certainly have no interest in bringing my heart out and laying it on the table.

I’ll protect myself as I see fit, especially when it comes to other people. They can’t screw you over unless they can get close enough to you first. After so many times of people overstepping my boundaries, they haven’t been white picket fences in years. I wish that was all I needed to keep people kind, but they just see those little guys as mere suggestions. I had to build 30 foot high walls of steel, with barbed wires and snipers on rooftops. People wonder why and they think it’s excessive, but they haven’t met the users I have. I’ve let people inside only to find that they were here to rape and pillage.

I get that not everyone’s needy or a user, yet the problem is they’re unmarked and in circulation. It’s really difficult to weed out the nonsense, so I have to be upfront about my defenses. They see right away it’s not a good day to fuck with me, and tomorrow’s not really good either. I get that it frightens and intimidates the weak, but they should learn from my example. I don’t have to be hurt over and over again by family, friends or strangers. I can prevent untold amounts of damage by being proactive and managing my strategies.

They can tell me I’m missing out on some fun I might have had, but I know how to get mine, I’m not waiting for that handout. I’m perfectly content to miss out on feelings-bent benders if it means I don’t end up holding the bag. It’s funny because it never fails… the fun-loving, care-free, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types call me over prepared. Yet it’s also never failed that they come running to me when everything falls apart. The truth is their intimations that I’m not open enough are hilarious, because my mind is as open as my heart is shut. I’m open to new ideas and ways of doing things, what I’m not open to is being asked for emotional commitment just to suffer for it.

So if you’re ready to take out all your feelings and examine them rationally let’s do it, but don’t tell me I need tie my feelings to the forces of fate or inevitability.

 

My element is strangeness

You’ve never seen me in my element because my element is not in your sphere. The funny thing is that my sweet spot doesn’t line up with anyone else’s so they don’t know it’s there. There probably isn’t a thing, or at least not many, that you and I could do that is easily shared.

Almost all the time I’m with you, I’m actually doing what you want at that time. Talking on your topic, and letting you define the parameters. Over the years it’s been made clear that I’m the outlier in most situations. And I’m quite good with that, I never intended to be middle of the road, that’s just not my gig. But I guess people didn’t know that when I meet them where they are, as much as I’m trying to relate with them it’s really far from where I started.

I would love to have an opportunity to really shine in my circle, my wheelhouse, my domain. It’s just that it turns out that’s not as feasible in a big open public setting. Not that I’m inappropriate for mixed groups or anything, I just mean it’s not conducive to doing my best work. I do well when it’s one-on-one or in a place where everybody’s got time to hang out for a while. I’m a great hostess, I make sure everyone gets everything they need. I can coordinate group efforts when it’s time to get down to business, but then there’s no monkeying around.

It’s just hard to manage the social dynamic everyone seems to be looking for. It’s hard for me to start and stop and pick up where I left off. It requires effort and focus to keep myself on track. I need to know what the topic is and what we’re aiming for in the conversation. I would like to know the other person and get an idea of where they’re coming from. If they don’t want to talk about a topic or idea, I really need to know that too. Basically if I don’t know what I’m working with, I can’t exactly work around issues. That stuff all takes time and effort on my part, it’s being considerate of how others operate. But I’m not that way and I’ve love to see the day where we didn’t have to spend so much time catering to tiny social rules and regulations.

My element is a place of brave living that doesn’t shrink from disagreement or scrutiny. I don’t mind going back and forth, arguing the finer points or even deciding that we’ll never agree. That stuff doesn’t bother me like it does other people, although they think it does when I begin to look heated. The funniest part is that’s when I’m just getting started, cuz you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! I love excitement and enthusiasm when I’m in it with other people. I want to get up and boogie, and bring the party along with me. So it’s not that I’m not good in a crowd full of people, it’s more if they’re boring I can’t change me – I’m still loud and boisterous, looking for company on my journey.

I want to include people in the good, bad and ugly. I want them to be able to know that in truth I think almost everything about them is wrong, but that’s ok, I don’t hold it against them. But they take that sentiment to think I’m better than them, when it has nothing to do with that at all. I am perfectly content with the understanding that my values and priorities don’t match up with other people’s. It’s them that get uncomfortable when they assume a difference of opinion means that I look down on them or that we can’t be friends over it. I actually have no interest in occupying any social high ground in relation to others. I don’t care that I think the direction they take their life and opinions is completely wrong. I’m not trying to punish them or hurt them by believing something different than they do.

I like differences and changes, new things and the outrageous. I don’t want to constantly shrink from differences of opinion. I like hashing things out and getting down to the nitty gritty. I like putting a fine point on things. It’s not that I have to relentlessly go, I take my downtime like everyone else. But I’m talking about shining in an ideal setting, yet I find some scenarios untenable. It’s fine for me if everyone is good with some uncertainty, but I find social tendencies lean toward totalitarian agreement. People worry a lot about not feeling the same way as each other, which is funny considering how strong they feel about some things.

So they all stand around making extra sure not to rock the boat or ruffle any feathers when they’re together. But I can’t stand that shit, it has no place in my heart. I get it, we all like each other so much that we don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. How’s about let’s all recognize that, ease up on our worries, and let everyone speak more freely? I don’t want to constantly censor myself, and everything that might be offensive, and I don’t need you to do that for me, I’m a big girl and I can handle being offended. I know for myself that the things that offend me may not have any meaning to anyone else anyway. How about we see it as a two way street instead of an onramp to a mob mentality?

It’s ridiculous for each of us to try to walk this earth with the presumption that we should all be, basically, the same person. We will inevitably have differences, and that’s what makes the world go ’round in the first place. There’s enough mild mannered-indecisive-simpering-people pleasers out there, let me take my place in the gradient with the understanding that everyone’s got their strengths. Mine is being big, bold, bright and beautiful…  it’s cutting loose when we’re having a good time. I like warming up the people around me and getting excited. I’m good with the myriad differences among us, I don’t need to be wrapped up in same-ness. I like branching out and trying new things, discovering and sharing the strangeness.

 

 

Cheap Immitation

This isn’t some goddamn tv show. We’re not in a play, nor a movie on screen. This is real, and it’s not artistic. It’s raw, it’s rough, it’s unplanned and mercurial. Timing does not allow for a gentle swell of music at just the right moment. Sometimes we blink, burp or fart… right in the middle of something important. We have an itch, a baby cries, there is no truly captivated audience. We’re only human and there’s no way we could keep up with people who aren’t real.

Striving to constantly have picture-perfect moments, and being sad when they fall short of that, is nothing but unrealistic expectations set by media claiming to portray reality. But real people don’t know everything, they get tired, short tempered, and flare up. We can’t ask every person to perform like they’re a classically trained actor. I don’t have writers that know when to take it to the next level, and when to inject some comic relief. Each of us has to live our lives and do our best at the time we are doing it.

Even if I thought I new how to make every moment so freakishly special, that discounts the very nature of specialness itself; the fact that it’s cool is because of its rarity and spontaneity. Great timing and just the right measure are not things to be expected undoubtedly. We love for things to work out, it’s great when a plan comes together. But with the genuinely uncontrolled nature of the Universe, we’re really just celebrating happenstance.

Creating and re-creating only the things that please a narrow subset of us does nothing but waste time. All our efforts to make everything magically work out wastes precious moments we could have enjoyed in our lives. The time spent not doing things, or doing them in some special way keeps us from the organic moments that we were looking for in the first place. The moments you’re trying so desperately to engineer are only special if they happen when no one was expecting it.

That’s what makes those movie-moments so special when you really stop and think about it. That they were unplanned, free flowing, a serendipitous event that worked out despite that it probably shouldn’t have. The fact that it would otherwise be a mundane, every-day occurrence, but a lucky turn of a few key components turned it into something bigger, is the way that we know that this moment is worth being considered different in the first place.

Basically it’s not really possible to make those shining moments happen. Because when it’s been planned and manipulated it loses everything special. Recognizing those moments as they occur naturally is the greatest gift we have, so we don’t squander our efforts looking for something that isn’t real at all. Instead of building up hopes and planning on things going perfectly, let’s let happiness surprise us, as intended, relax and just enjoy it when it comes to us.

To those who say I don’t have to clean up all the time

I don’t want to get in a big car, idle in line at the drive-thru just to stuff my face and litter the trash afterward. I don’t want to leave the roll of empty toilet paper behind, or a wet, messy counter for the next person. I don’t need to be the first to order my dinner, like I don’t need to take the last Oreo. I don’t need to talk about myself the whole time either, I’d like to hear about you too. I don’t want to be as lazy and self-serving as you are, disregarding all those folks around me.

When I say you’re not doing enough, I’m not jealous of how you are.

I don’t envy your ill gotten gains, or the attitude you use to back it up.

I don’t want to do less, phone it in, or half-ass it. I don’t want to let shit just fall by the wayside.

I don’t want to give up, give in, do what i want, over the needs of others or the universe in general.

I don’t want to see that stupid look on your face as you tell me one more time how I could fuck over the people around me.

You really think I don’t know that I could be just as self-centered and childish as the rest of you? Of course I could decide not to hold myself responsible, and by extension the people I criticize. You’re right that I hold you to some pretty high standards, and yet you’re entirely capable. You too could ask more of yourself and those around you, instead of sitting back, waiting to be taken care of. But at the moment, you’re too busy insisting on experiencing unending, immeasurable pleasure.

Pleasure is great and I love to feel it, but that’s not the end of any story. As much as we could all lie on our backs engaging in emotional masturbation, there’s more to life than receiving an item, or even a wonderful experience.

The great feeling of a job well done, and knowing you did the right thing should be a great reward. I’m amazed at the number of people today that feel everyone else needs to pay to see good behavior. Treating other people with a modicum of respect (enough not to inconvenience them) is not as painful as  people make it out to be. And the attitude that it’s a burden to be reasonably kind is disturbing to say the least. If it’s really so hard to be nice to other people, then at least find a way to avoid leaving your messes for them to wade through.

You’re absolutely right, I don’t have to clean up your messes, yet I do because I don’t want to live in filth. Filling up the space around you with discarded and “forgotten” detritus is affecting other people. Stop acting like your actions never have any consequences, because your opinion doesn’t change the fact that repercussions are real. Wether it’s actual trash, emotional baggage or leaving the work to someone else, you’re levying hardship on other people and you are personally responsible, regardless of whether or not you acknowledge it.

 

 

 

The Inviter

It’s not just millenials, or young people today. It’s not just technology or politics at large making things this way. Modern culture is moving to a model of personal control in all situations. Because we have come to a place where almost everything can be quantified and organized, people have become comfortable with their ability to decide the exact parameters of their participation in any given event. It’s not that that they aren’t interested in doing things with other people, or even alone. But any activity or choice they make is now put through the filter of control mechanisms. People want to be able to mold and shape their environment and experiences, and that’s not anything new or different. It’s just that now they’re taking it farther and farther, until they are in control of everything or they flatly refuse to participate. They are withdrawing from meeting any challenges that aren’t easily overcome by a wide margin, or have assured outcomes.

At least 3 people in my life have spent the time to tell me to “keep inviting” them. These are people whose company I enjoy, and I will continue to invite them as I can. But what about them and their invitations? Or are others the ones whose responsibility it is to plan, organize, invite and deliver? I would love to have people who are committed enough that I could just look at them and tell them “keep inviting me”. But the invitations don’t exactly roll in, and I sit here and wonder about a few things.

Sure it’s great to receive a request and sit back and decide if we’ll entertain it. We would all rather assess something offered by others and comply or deny as we see fit. With that in mind, it’s quite a haughty position to take. It levels the entire relationship maintenance back on the other person. Are you really so special, unique and worthy of everyone around you catering to your schedule?

Building community is not a one sided thing, and it takes everyone involved to get the desired effect. The funny thing is, no, we don’t actually need each other any more, we can meet all our own needs without help from anyone. But the benefits of community and mutual efforts go far beyond meeting basic wants and desires.

As much as we can each build our own chosen community that never questions or disagrees with us, how boring, stagnant and unhealthy is living in that delusional fantasy? No one actually needs ass-kissing yes men around, it just serves to ruin them, it’s been proven. We could forever ensure that we never have to accommodate anyone, or compromise with other people, but we do need to look at ourselves when we ask for those things without being prepared to do the same in return for others. In short, if you want so much, you should plan on reciprocating at least a little.

Constant fear of being questioned or analyzed is defensive and recalcitrant. It stems from over punishment and publish shaming, which is understandable. It sure makes sense that no one wants to be scrutinized or held accountable. But taking that to the extreme, repudiating others wholesale because of it: that’s entirely too far to protect your ego. Surely there must be some way that you can imagine spending time with others outside of that cycle. Not every meeting or gathering that you didn’t manage will automatically turn out badly. Just because sometimes you’ve been hurt by this world doesn’t mean you can’t go out and try again. The flexibility and strength of the ability to change is at the heart of how we grow, learn, and blossom.

The silly thing is, all your rigid engineering around the wispy feelings that you have, has never and will never alter the chances that you’ll be hurt again. Yet person after person retreats to the safety of controlling their entire environment. But soon enough, they feel hurt because people aren’t paying enough attention to them. We desperately need other people in our lives and when they hurt us it sucks but we need each other no less because of it. Fabricating a world without challenge or hardship sadly does not ensure happiness.

Aside from all your defenses and fears, the truth is you’re levying burdens on the people around you. If you don’t want the pressure of keeping in touch, you’re basically  telling others they have to do it for you. Your cute little memes about how you’re “just bad at keeping in touch with others” is a ridiculously selfish and completely immature cop out that shows you don’t respect the time or efforts of the people who know and love you. If you have time to log into sites, stream video and chill, or scroll through endless social media, you most certainly have the skills, ability and room in your schedule to put effort forth to connect with others now and again.

All the people you txt to when you need advice or an ear are the people you should invite to your life and its events. You too could be the person coordinating a simple lunch or a trip to the movies. No it’s not too much to bear if you want to have friends, and if you don’t then stop telling them to “keep inviting” you. Because either you want to have a relationship with someone, or you’re just letting them spend time with you. If it’s the latter I’ve got a few posts for you, but we can talk about that later.