Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh the humanity!

I was reading on my social networking sites about a friend who is in a bind, and a fellow community member reminded them that the tribe always provides.

I think the years of self-providing parents and the long history of being a social outcast taught me at a young age that I shouldn't depend on the tribe, and a part of me has become really prejudicial towards other people whom keep the tribe as a viable fall-back plan.

Somewhere along the line, I realize my viewpoint is a little too far to one side, and that I do myself a dis-service both not personally having faith in my own tribe, but also having that attitude towards others as well.

I think yet another part of that I've seen too many people take advantage of the system.  People who really don't make a great enough effort to do for themselves, and end up apparently depending on the tribe regularly.  That alone pushes me even harder to do my damndest to cover my own bases and to build in acceptable failures for when even all that effort doesn't pan out.  And all that based on the impression of things I see in others that may not necessarily be reality at all.

With all that resting on my shoulders, I should be a nervous wreck about the unknown and the possibility of instability that is part of life.  And yet, a part of me LOVES having my plans tested.  It is almost like a science experiment to me, and I get giddy when I have to put a plan in motion because of some oh-shit moment that cropped up.  I get all analytical, and mentally take notes on how to improve the process, and  revel in the things I did well and feel a sense of pride that even if I didn't manage to cover every base, inevitably, I covered a lot, and even though an oops is still an oops, it's not a HOLY CRAP.

Another piece of that puzzle comes from the fact that I accept the understanding that by nature I am not a unconditionally compassionate person.  I have standards and expectations, and people who do not meet them are not afforded the emotional response that perhaps they should be.   I don't always know how to reconcile that.  Again, I see a lot of people who really seem to need a good swift kick in the pants rather than some warm fuzzies or acknowledgement.  I question things in the sense that if I can power through much worse, how is it that "you" are floundering over so much less?  Why are "you" so resistant to biting into your own problem and instead seem so willing to let others take over?  Where is the sense of pride?  Where is the drive to succeed?  Why is it that I see these things as failures of character rather than just responses to stress?

I was recently accused of eschewing emotion when it comes to these things, and I realized I wasn't in a position to truly and fully counter that statement.  I just couldn't.

I've come to recognize that a part of that is a response to aspects of my childhood, but that my continuing dismissal of emotion is more of a habit now than any active response.  A habit I'm not sure how to break.

I find it exceedingly difficult to look past those prejudices and see the humanity of people.  To find the balance and to really respond in a constructive and accepting manner.

I mean at this point, I have at least learned to keep my mouth shut most of the time.  But that's not really changing anything beyond the fact that I'm just not always out with my opinion.  I guess on some level, it's a step in the right direction, but it really doesn't solve the problem.

So somewhere along the line, my continued goal is to spend more time letting people in.  Letting in the idea that I really have no idea what I'm thinking or that I even vaguely have a reasonable idea of what someone else is going through, and that accordingly, I'm in no position to judge or to withhold basic human emotions based on this perceived knowledge I think I have.

Rough goal for me.  Definitely have my work cut out for me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On the Romantic Implications of Lying

So any psychologist, back-seat therapist, talk-show host, or modern housewife will tell you:  lying in a relationship is bad.  Guaranteed ticket to a quick end.  And yet, every now and then, a little lying can actually improve the relationship.   Let me sum up.. No.. not enough.  Lemme e'splain.

Back when I was in college working on my final attempt (thus far) at completing my degree, I stumbled upon a young lady whom I shared an evening schedule with including a sizable gap in the early evening before our last classes of the night.  How we met is a geeky story I'll save for another time, but the point is, we found ourselves spending our evening break together more and more frequently, and sometimes to the point where we'd just not go to our evening class.  It was the best time I ever had ditching classes. :-)

One particular evening, I had remembered that the symphony was going to have a performance that weekend, and that night was one of their rehearsal nights.  Being that the symphony played on campus at the performance hall, and in the interest of students, their rehearsals were open, and you could take your books in and study to the sounds of whatever classical was on the bill for the weekend.  At least, that's how they used to do it.

That particular night, I found out the hard way that they didn't offer that anymore.  Unknowingly, I took my lady friend to the front doors hoping to get a chance to listen to some music with her, and when we arrived, the doors were locked.   Someone inside had noticed us trying the doors and had asked what we needed.  I explained my understanding of how rehearsals worked, and this gentleman apologized and kindly explained that things had changed and that rehearsals were no longer open.

Disappointed, we stepped away and began walking from the door.  We took a seat at some stonework benches in the courtyard and sat and contemplated what to do next for the evening.  At that moment, I noticed the conductor of the symphony at the green-room door ushering in his musicians for the night, and at that moment, with a little prodding from my lass, I walked up to him and explained our situation and my original impression of how the rehearsals were open.

He graciously explained some particular reason for the change, which I don't recall, but I seem to remember it having to do with money (don't most things?) and that they needed to close them now.

Crestfallen, we began to step away when suddenly, we heard him question us: "Do you have tickets for the performance this weekend?"

I swear to $deity that I wasn't deliberately trying to impress my lady friend when I responded with a timid falsehood.

"Yes.  Yes we do."

"You have tickets to the performance?" he confirmed.

"Saturday evening," I lied with a greater confidence.

"Well..." he said, "I guess then it isn't that big a deal if you guys come in tonight."

My jaw hit the floor.

"Please come in," he ushered us into the green-room,"and if anybody asks, tell them you are my guests."

We quickly obliged, thanked him profusely, found good seats, and vibrated with excitement of what we had just done!

As the orchestra seated and tuned, the original young man who stopped us at the front doors wandered by and remembered us.   He walked up and asked how we had gotten in.

As we had been instructed, "We're guests of the conductor!"

He paused a moment, smiled rather largely at the pair of us, and said, "Good for you!" and wandered off.

We were masters of our domain that night.  King and queen.  The symphony played for US!

It was that night that I fell in love with Rachmaninoff's Concerto #2.  And further in love with a certain brunette goddess.  The swells and the tension of the piece were overwhelming!

While things didn't work out in the end (and not as a result of any lying. hehe), I still look back very fondly of that evening, and to this day, my heart soars every time I hear that particular Rachmaninoff concerto.  :-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Praying For World Peace

If you've never read this blog before and are just now reading this piece, I recommend that you spend some time getting acquainted with the archives.  In there, I include a lot of the prejudices that lead me to feelings and conclusions I will address in this particular post.  Take it as you will.

No matter what religion or system of belief that involves the ritualistic worship and deification of some higher being, I find that in my opinion, there is a prevailing fallacy present in almost every case to which many if not most practitioners fall victim:  The idea that prayer, unto itself, is a predominately viable  solution to resolving problems.

Catholics do it.  Pagans do it.  Even ecclesiastic fleas do it. (Sorry.. couldn't resist).

But in my experience, rarely does anybody think to address all that can be accomplished in the physical plane before jumping straight to the spiritual.

Need a job?  Light some candles and burn some incense.

Home life suck?  Say some rosaries and go to Mass.

Feeling down on yourself?  Go to Temple and do some baptisms.

Heaven forbid we work a little harder at networking people and sending out some more resumes... or directly address some of our problems at home.. or think about and act upon the non-pharmaceutical factors in mood and well being.

Personally I'm undecided on the issue if prayer does anything more than to self-placate and soothe ourselves, or if it may have some connected property that tips fate in our favor.  But I know unequivocally that using ONLY prayer is a great way to become disgruntled with your deity.

The old Christian saying about God helping those who help themselves isn't just a boot-strappy Libertarian agenda.

In my opinion, if God(s) is up there offering us a nudge here and there based on our willingness to pay them homage, they aren't going to go out of their way if the most we're doing is standing there like a spoiled petulant child with our hand out, pointing and praying at the emptiness of our palm.  Rather I find it more likely that should we put forth every effort we have to do what we need to do, and in doing so find ourselves at a tipping point and at that point pray for help, it is then that they will be more likely to tip in our favor as an acknowledgement of our efforts.

I respect those whom use prayer as a giving of thanks and as a means to offer help and support to others.  And certainly as a means of meditation and introspection. And I don't really begrudge people asking for help for themselves as long as they are making their own efforts and not just looking for a supernatural hand-out.  As for others, karma will do its part, and it ain't pretty.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Social Networking...isn't.

So something that occurred to me in earnest recently was the understanding that for all this connectivity we have and claim to have on the internet and via various social networking sites, we haven't really actually connected with anybody.

This has hit home a little more with the social flutter resulting from my upcoming 20 year high school reunion.  The ol' popular kids are raising a fuss on Facebook trying to get people together and it has brought a lot of people out of the woodwork.  

But really, when it comes to the day to day, while I have quite a significant "friend" list on Facebook, I interact with most of them infrequently or never.  The "connections" are superficial at best.  And yet I pursue them.  And I'm sure others pursue connections to people they once knew.  

Speaking for myself, I think it comes down to wanting to reconnect to something I once had with this person before I lost touch with them, but doing so without the legwork of really reconnecting.  Facebook creates the illusion that they are in my life again and that I can keep up with them and what they are doing.  We read it, we comment sometimes, invite each other to groups and games, and that's the extent of it.

And sure, commenting and posting are part of the process, but how often do we post something, have nobody comment on it electronically, only to wonder if anybody ever read it or noticed?

Not to say that posting is only about social recognition and/or interaction, but at the same time, it leaves you wondering why you'd bother if you aren't getting some kind of feedback.

What becomes more interesting is when you talk to someone out of that context and they mention offhandedly that they really enjoyed what you posted.  And you feel a moment's frustration that you're only hearing about it now instead of having had a nice comment to your post.  The nerve that you'd actually prefer them to play the social networking game rather than interact with you on a personal level.  :-)

It can really mess up your priorities.  

Now I realize some people are very picky about who they include in their online social circles, and accordingly, I presume they make their interactions more meaningful.  But I know there are also people who collect friends like a boy scout collecting merit badges: friend added and never to be spoken with again.  And I just don't see the point.

I have a hard enough time committing to keeping up with what I have, much less thinking I need more.

But I think at least for me, I will be making an effort, starting now, to reach out and really make an effort to connect to people I consider "friends".  And if for some reason I don't feel up to it, or have reservations somewhere along the way, then I think it will be time to re-evaluate my priorities.. and maybe rethink my concept of "friends".

Life's too short for just comments.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The New Plan

"Whoa-oh ooooooooh. The right stuff" - New Kids On the Block

So as I continue down my path, I realize I don't have a great definition or label for myself.  Agnostic kinda works.  Atheist kinda works.  Secular Humanist kinda works.

All in all, what I do find is that my life continues without a sense of spirituality.  At least spirituality in the way most people seem to find it.  I do take time to appreciate the wonders of the world and I enjoy them greatly, but I don't spend a lot of time these days contemplating their origin or reason for being.  Nor mine, for that matter.

I know I'm here to affect change on the world and on others.  And I know that I have done so in many positive ways even sometimes in the veil of something negative.

These days I spend my time concerning myself with my own responsibilities.  I have found in the past that I seemed to spend a lot of time around people who really shirk their personal responsibilities, and as a result, I think I'm sensitive to it.  I feel a responsibility to do for myself and to those I'm responsible in a way that minimizes my impact on others.

I've always grown up sensitive to how others perceive me, and there was a time I bent over backwards to ensure that people saw me in the best light possible.  So far, in fact, that I often put aside my own wants and needs to feed this.

After snapping back from that, and the inevitable wobble it caused, I decided that not only were my needs important, but that I needed to be responsible for my imposition on others.

And thats how I try and live my life.  It's not perfect.  And it is a struggle, much like everybody else.  But I like knowing that my goals have tangible results, and that my accomplishments afford me proverbial feathers in my cap that give me preferential consideration towards things I find important.

I understand that successes are a product of my interaction with the uncertainty of the world and the efforts I make covering contingencies that are worth the success.   I also understand that failures are also the same product but with different, NOT NEGATIVE, results.   While I may not have accomplished my goal in a way intended, I did accomplish a different goal, and it is up to me to anticipate it if possible, and also to take responsibility for it, as well as re-evaluating the need to try again.

And in the meantime, I make effort to enjoy the little things and spend time appreciating my existence and the existence of others.