Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Essays

 On Being “Right”

So I’ve been thinking about “being right”.  As in, a person’s need to be right about things.  I’ve always had a thing about being right.  Starting when I was quite young it was so important to me to be right, or at least to not be wrong, that other kids in school made fun of how upset I got if I answered a question in class incorrectly.  It humiliated me far more than the other kids, it seemed to me.  If someone else gave a wrong answer, they’d just brush it off, whereas I would turn red in embarrassment and feel like everyone in class was laughing at me.  I remember the feelings of shame clearly.

To try to keep these moments from happening I started using a tactic I continue to use to this day – I wait.  If a question is on the table that I’m not 100% sure about, I’m not the first to raise my hand or offer an opinion.  I wait to see what others say first, and how the authority figure (or the person posing the question) responds.  Then, having had time to think about all this new information, if the subject hasn’t been adequately covered by someone else at this point, I will finally offer my perspective.  I discovered early on that this method makes me seem very, very smart.  Sometimes I use this strategy even if I am sure about the subject matter, just to see if I’m in the majority or the minority.  I don’t mind being in the minority at all – I just don’t necessarily want to come out of the gate with it.

All of this has brought me back to a subject I’ve been contemplating for a long time – passion.  I sometimes wonder if, in my desire to never be wrong in public, that I have, over time, dampened my passions.  I really do worry that I’ve become this lukewarm person who never takes a stand about anything.  Not that I don’t have opinions about things – I do.  But I don’t feel like I need to shout my opinions from the rooftops, either.  And although it keeps me out of trouble, I sort of wonder if I shouldn’t be more vocal about things I care about.  But then something happens to make me think it’s better just to keep my mouth shut.  So I wait.  June 12, 2013 

Togetherness

In his book “The Social Animal”, David Brooks posits that we humans develop not because of our “nature” or “nurture” necessarily, but because of our relationships to one another.  The very fabric of who we are, what we achieve, what we believe in – the core of our beings – is developed through how we relate to, and the kinds of relationships we build with, the people around us.  He describes a future where the importance of these relationships is honored, emphasized, and developed.  He makes persuasive arguments that our psychologists and teachers and politicians have gotten it very, very wrong.  Everyone is missing the point.  We need each other, we are more interdependent that we could possibly know.  To move our society into the next phase of our evolution as a species, we must embrace our interconnectedness.  It is the only way to be happy and to solve the problems of the world.

I am quite taken by this view of the world because  I recognize some of my own leanings in his writing.  Not that I have ever given any of these matters conscious thought in this particular way.  My own thinking about it has been colored by the lens of my individual experiences, as everything is for each of us.  For example, speaking in the context of my work, I have the unoriginal view that in-person meetings are superior to voice or video.  This isn’t news – most people will tell you that more gets communicated and accomplished when people are in physical proximity to each other.  There are all kinds of research to back this up, and no matter how good the technology gets, we as human beings will always crave the closeness of other human beings.  The new twist on this is that apparently, the benefits we receive from being in the same room together are not limited to increased communication.  We actually grow and develop as people, we have the ability to affect each others’ minds, when we are next to each other.  We are changed by each other.  We are literally different people after being together, as our minds forge new neural pathways and open up new ways of seeing the world.

My life has been a strange, twisty path of goal setting, achievement, boredom, change, goal setting, achievement, boredom, etc.  I have held very few core beliefs as I have moved through the different phases of my life – I find that my convictions, like my bangs, come and go.  I have always believed that honesty, however painful, is the best policy.  I believe that hard work is rewarded, just most of the time the reward is the pleasure you derive from it.  I have come to believe that there isn’t much in life that is permanent.  But the greatest belief I hold is my absolute certainty that love is eternal.  The love you feel for someone, if it is love and not some other emotion wrongly interpreted as love, lasts forever.  The friends you made in school who you have kept in touch with on and off for most of your life, who, when they reappear, give you the feeling that no time has gone by since you last saw them – that is love.   The deep, warm affection you feel for long-ago lovers, when any hurt or pain is forgotten and replaced by a sincere desire to see them happy – that is love.  The unfathomable bond you feel with your parents, even if it is complicated – that is love.  The connection to your siblings, that knowledge when you look in your sister’s eyes and know she knows exactly what you mean, because she has the same context – that is love.  And these loves, once established, never leave you.  I never understood why.  I have a better idea now.  As the research into the inner workings of the brain are revealing, emotion acts like a sculptor’s chisel on our minds, carving feelings and memory in our brains to create the patters that make us who we are.  Our love becomes “us” – we cannot separate ourselves from it.  As time and circumstances go on, we might come to view this love in different ways, but at its essence, it remains as real and permanent as the day it was created.  June 25, 2011

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