Over the last couple of weeks, several people have been “riffing” off an essay written by Nightprowlkitty, A Personal View: Discontent. I’m still thinking about it today.
I am not looking for new answers.
I am trying to see what is already here. Right now. Fully formed.
What makes that vision difficult is the bombardment of information, the daily tolling of the bad news bell of the United States of America, the evils that prompt the human spirit to react instead of respond. This to me is the most difficult task, to make myself quiet enough to see the answer staring me in the face. It is easy to write. It is not easy to do.
What I’m thinking about today is a skill I learned growing up. My family was full of outspoken, larger-than-life people. And it was seriously dysfunctional. With everyone shouting to be heard, I made a decision at some point early on to be quiet, keep to myself and watch. That gave me some distance (which was a great thing in my family) as well as some perspective. It also gave me time to ask questions – mostly to myself – about what was happening and how I could get out of there with some sanity.
One of the “loud” people in my family was my brother who is 18 months younger than me. He was, in every way, the stereotypical bad boy of the family. He challenged everything loudly and strongly – and paid a price for that (goddess bless him!). When I was young and trying to NOT make waves, I hated him for always needing to stir things up. And I found a way to deal with him in my own “quiet” way. When he would come after me (literally sometimes), I would simply ignore him – the old “never let them see you sweat” action. Now that we’re adults and the best of friends, he tells me that no one was able to frustrate him more than I did with my cool “I can’t be bothered with you” kind of response.
Perhaps these are just childhood games that he and I played with each other to survive an untenable situation. But I’ve seen myself do the same thing in situations in my adult life. What always accompanies the cool detachment is a steely determination – the kind that says, “You can blow out all your steam here and now and I’ll still be standing, getting things done, when you fizzle.” I suppose its a take-off of the old fairy tale about the tortoise and the hare. Remind me again, who is it that crossed the finish line first??
I don’t mean any of this as a challenge to Buhdy’s “yell louder” meme. But perhaps there is some wisdom in the yin/yang of loud direct confrontation and the quiet steely determination that comes with the certainty that no one can ever take from you what isn’t theirs in the first place.