Several Essays

(13:30 EST – promoted by pico)

A Simple and Humbling Ideal:  I try to be respectful to the person in front of me.  It’s not exciting like freeing the slaves, it’s not beautifully whole like non-violent resistance, it’s not intoxicating like deep spiritual realization, nor is it grand like changing the world.  And since it is not a great cause with a long grand march to an imagined glorious outcome, the results are in almost immediately.  It’s not uncommon for me to be reminded that I’ll never be perfect it.  (At those moments, I like to think dreamily about the day all humans will live in freedom.  Ah, sweet distraction.)

There’s this guy who really gets under my skin.  I love to say ironically funny or insightfully critical things about him behind his back.  Yeah, I’m that kind of passive aggressive guy–afraid of confrontation but arrogant nonetheless.  Surely you know the type.  I wish I weren’t petty like that.  But there are a lot of different ways to disrespect people.  At least my way is occasionally funny.  OTOH, with explosive anger sometimes you get to see frighteningly spectacular displays of household goods being creatively employed contrary to their intended use.

There are all kinds of violence, aren’t there.  I lived for a couple of years at the Center for Non-Violent Action.  My wife and I were young while the other couple were experienced hands in the peace business.  One day my wife (ex) said to me, “They talk about and work for peace a lot, but if you think about it, they are pretty violent to each other.”  The plain truth of her claim was inarguable.

One day my wife was wrong about something, and when I demanded that she understand that, she was mean to me.  I screamed at her on and off for the better part of the evening and she never even changed her mind.  She still hasn’t apologized for that.  But at least we were uncomfortable for a while, which apparently has some inherent value.

I was going to find some wise, honest, and/or constructive comments people posted yesterday, comments from everyone present, which had no discernible effect on their listeners’ experience.  Pearls before swine?  Over-educated quibblers?  Appreciate mind energy sent in lieu of verbal acknowledgment?  Are you kidding me, he’s a crazy fucking a**hole who hasn’t said anything worthwhile in his miserable life?  Who can say?

To be honest, those were a few stored up ones.  Here’s the only reason I’m outlining them now:  Tonight I felt sad.  Good, I thought, now I can write something more trustworthy.

I’m not sad because anyone has been disrespectful to me.  Almost everyone on dd has treated me with a lot more respect than I’m accustomed to.  Who knows what would have happened, though, if I had clearly expressed solidarity with one or another user yesterday?  (Appreciation to Edger for the HTML essay which just taught me how to draw the gray lines above.)

I’m sad because something has changed.  I have no idea if it’ll all be the same or better in two days–I make no vows for the future–but it continues to feel as though I will alter my relation to this site, for better and for worse.  The change comes from me, because of who I am, how events affect me, and my personal motivations.  More on that below.

Only because I’m not sure whether I’m backing out of the more personal side of on-line discussion am I not here writing a deep appreciation of the people I’ve met in the short time I’ve been here.  If I do find I stay away, I’ll write a loving essay that will have you all in tears.  And that’s a promise.

My wife and I have fought a lot in our twenty-one years together.  We are both smart and stubborn.   We’re both usually pretty sure that we’re right.  There are only two areas in which those fights have taught me anything useful:  my psycho-personal limitations and wounds, and the nature of my wife’s deepest suffering.  Meanwhile, we have said a lot of damaging, hurtful things to each other.  And we haven’t forgotten them.  They don’t just go away.  We love each other, but there are areas in which we are quite wary, even frightened, of each other.  There is no positive aspect to this state of affairs that I can discern, except for the self-referential one:  I learn what in me causes me to create such suffering for myself and others.  But if I didn’t have the wounded blindspot that I’m learning about, then I wouldn’t have to learn the lesson, now would I?  A brick wall can hold itself up.  Does that alone make it worthwhile?  Optimally best is not building the wall in the first place.

Because of my psychology and my stage in life, I don’t want to participate in sticky personal interactions.  I’m not afraid of strong feeling.  I don’t dismiss people who are difficult.  I’m not satisfied and thus unwilling to change.  It’s none of that.  It’s that I now live quietly and with minimal conflict.  My wife and I have beat each other’s egos into submission.  We are humbled by our inability to control love or to make the other give us what we want.

Some of it is that I become a rescuer, the middle child who wants to fix things all up.  Some of it is that I become wounded.  Some of it is that I become fearful.  Some of it is that my boundaries are porous, I get too involved, and I spend psychic energy I could use elsewhere more productively.  A lot of it is that when I return to myself, I feel that the time I spent agitated was wasted time which taught me nothing.

I’m writing this not to delve into the personal.  I have done so I hope, but that’s not the purpose.  It’s that I intend to change my relation to this place and I don’t want to be a ghost who said screw you and left.  No, I want to be one who said screw you and stayed.  No wait, that’s not it. . . oh yeah, here’s what it is, I don’t want to be a ghost at all.

This is how I’m feeling.  Sad like I’ve lost a friend, disappointed that my projections of the world proved unreliable (for the millionth time), clear-headed that I want to cut down on indulgent interactions in favor of being more productive, wary as ever of my fellow humans, and still somehow closely connected to a lot of damn fine people.


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    • geomoo on June 30, 2008 at 5:52 am

    As I write, I imagine your reading this with interest and respect and criticism.  Because that’s who you’ve been since I’ve been here.  Thanks for that.  Please forgive me, but I’m not planning to respond to comments.  I’ll read them with interest.

    And finally, feeling sad is not a negative thing to me.  It doesn’t need fixing.  Nothing needs fixing.

  1. as usual from you geomoo.  I was so saddened when you threatened to leave yesterday and if you hadn’t shown up today and Ria hadn’t written her excellent essay I would have been one of those who silently went away-disappointed.  Thank you more than I can say for making it worthwhile to come back.  

  2. way you geo, witw, Ria and UCC have been able to express today.  

    I had to take the day off for 2 reasons.

    1.  I cannot now nor have I ever been able to fight, or

       understand fighting.  When I was a kid my mom told me

       “If you don’t have anything nice to say.. don’t say

       anything.”  Mom was one very wise woman!  But for me

       it’s even more than that, I found this fighting didn’t

       do anything positive.. all it did was hurt a bunch of

       us on this site as well as feeding some egos.  Two pretty

       ugly things IMHO.  And coming back here tonight I find

       much has settled down with one exception.  One who  

       professes peace, love, kindness and then proceeds to

       spew the worst kind of hate.  So, here I sit, stomach

       in knots, tears in my eyes… because ONE FUCKING person

       is so egocentric they just cannot let it fucking go.

    2.  I spent the day with my family.. and then they took me

       out to celebrate my birthday…  and it was so plesant.

    Too bad I’m now sitting here in tears once again….  

  3. I really appreciate what you’re saying here and how you tried to help yesterday.   Thank you.

    I’m on a comment strike too, as far as the blog feud goes.  I haven’t gotten sucked in yet and after I saw what happened to you yesterday I’m glad I’ve taken the silent way.    

    • pico on June 30, 2008 at 7:54 am

    this is one of the most insightful essays I’ve read here.  I loved this line:

    We love each other, but there are areas in which we are quite wary, even frightened, of each other.

    The tersest description of a relationship I’ve ever read.  That’s just perfect, and so, so true.

  4. Well, thanks for trying to be peace on Saturday.

    I hope you’ll stick around long enough to see what might be next.    

    • brobin on June 30, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    your sadness, geomoo.

    Sadness is not a bad thing, there is no question.

    It just is.

  5. People like you and essays like this are why this is the only other blog other than my own I frequent. (if you can call any of it frequent, as busy as I am lately)

    You, my dear, have a lovely soul. Thank you for sharing it with me. Yeah, I said me, since its all about me LOL; no, really when someone writes this well, it should feel like they are speaking to you directly… and thats what you have done (I hope) to each of us here.


  6. I don’t share your intellect or command of the language but do share your feelings about conflict. We don’t ‘grow’ from exchanges like this, we suffer and showcase our flaws.

    Thanks again for your fine efforts. Hope to see you again.

    • pico on June 30, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    but I shifted most of the text below the break, just so it wouldn’t take up the whole FP when I promoted it.  If you object I can pull everything back up.

  7. Stay!

    • Metta on July 1, 2008 at 3:27 am

    There is a lot to learn from in your essay.  I might have to bookmark it for future reference!  Sadness is not usually a problem for me either.  I mean as you say a matter to be fixed, learned from and paid attention to but not necessarily solved.

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