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Posts Tagged ‘Rule Number One’

What is the one thing a society needs to maintain a sense of honor?  Innocence. If you can distinguish naivete and innocence then you can be “as innocent as a dove but as sharp as a serpent.” Also I wish to account for, “where there are many rules, virtue will be lacking.” This is the core of what I’m advocating, what I’m trying to discover. As you can see, my thoughts are far along, but have a few holes in them. I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on what I’m overlooking.

Lately I have applied for several jobs and I have been in the enviable position of having many potential employers wanting to hire me.  One of them, the one I eventually signed a contract with, wanted to screw over my headhunter and not pay her fees by claiming to hire another candidate while I claimed to work at another location.

I didn’t do this, for a few reasons.  Chiefly, the headhunter has been helping me for YEARS and if someone treats me very well, I like to treat them well in return.  Partly this is pragmatism, I might want to deal with her again later (she DID get me loads of solid leads).  Additionally, this affects the nature of my relationship with my employer — are we starting off entering into a conspiracy to cheat someone?  I’m not claiming that’s a bad thing a priori, but lets call a spade a spade.  But really, the whole decision came down to my wanting to pay this headhunter for her services rendered.

Now I’ve gotten another offer that might be a better one.   I might actually ditch the employer with whom I’ve already signed a contract, but who hasn’t filled out enough paperwork to make it a big headache (for me) to switch jobs.  Furthermore, I’ve entered into this contract, knowing the exit clauses, assuming I’ll probably leave early, but not disclosing this information.  At least one of my friends thinks my cavalier attitude towards agreements with employers is unethical.  However, I can’t see anything wrong with this.

This got me thinking, when we define something as an evil or bad thing, what do we mean?  I have a working model of kinds of transgressions.  I divide them into two categories:  Bodily transgressions such as assault, murder, rape, physical harm through negligence (a tricky one), poisoning, etc…   Social transgressions such as breech of agreement, deception, omission, meanness, playing legal hardball, refusing to do business with specific people, etc.  The former are things that cause, either directly or through strongly causal indirect means, bodily harm to another.  The latter are breeches of society’s rules, written or unwritten, and are almost always violations of people’s expectations.

Now, in the case of bodily transgressions, I think most humans have agreed on extreme ones being wrong outside of specific circumstances.  It’s generally considered wrong to shoot someone unless they’re shooting at me or my friend.  Social transgressions vary from culture to culture and subculture to subculture.  In some marketplaces, caveat emptor rules and everyone expects you to try and benefit from information advantage (aka “dupe someone”).  Going into the game knowing this, there is really no problem in this environment (as long as the discount on price in this market equals or exceeds my costs from wrong estimates of value or quality, then it’s fine for me to shop there).  At the other extreme, some social groups consider it a serious social breech if you enter into a simple argument that hurts someone’s feelings.  Most societies frown on nakedness outside of specific circumstances, or adjusting one’s breasts or penis in public in an obvious way.  Some social groups would stop reading this because I said “breasts” and “penis.”

There is a big middle ground in all of this.  Bodily harm through negligence is often difficult to determine, and we’ll usually distinguish between innocent and accidental negligence (a genuine accident on the operating table, or during an emergency rescue) and vicious negligence (leaving a child in a locked car in 101 degree heat as a punishment).  What’s more interesting to me is the problem of social transgressions.

Beyond the two categories I already stated, we can divide actions into honorable/innocent and dishonorable/naive actions.  Innocent and honorable bodily harm actions are generally considered completely okay.  Improvised emergency response in backcountry situations gives us occasional examples of this, where the best action known, given available equipment, skills, and conditions, still results in someone’s injury or death.  Also, most people will understand if I hit someone with a baseball bat who is in the process of trying to stab me and steal my Nikes.  Indeed, in these cases, the actions stem from honorable and/or innocent intentions AND no SOCIAL breech has occurred. However, we may judge them in complex ways.  Why did I possess a baseball bat? What could I have done differently to save my wounded comrade? Legal consequences may ensue regardless of ones actual intentions and behaviors. I’ll talk about that later.

I am starting to think social breeches often trump bodily breeches. Also, I think they are usually judged in a very clear-cut way. The person who honestly didn’t know he was in a social group where everyone is expected to be super nice to each other doesn’t get a pass if he starts an argument with someone, even if his intention was genuinely compassionate calling someone out on some of their bull$#!! such as an addiction or other harmful behavior. He is likely to be judged as a jerk and never invited to the party again. We find extreme examples of the most honorable and innocent actions being punished by society in our great spiritual leaders from Jesus to Socrates.

I think this is because Social breeches are actually sins against the fabric of society.  Society itself (through its social contracts and leaders who execute them) claims the right to transgress people’s bodies. The examples above, Jesus and Socrates, invoke society’s claim to this right to harm. Society also claims this right by imprisoning people or drafting them, and in some places by physical punishments such as caning, torture, and harsh prison conditions. American society, among others, also claims the specific right to harm people through direct and intentional negligence, as food and medicine are not considered “rights” but rather privileges.

My own moral life seems to be evolving more to pay attention to my own compass of honorable and innocent, and less to social norms. Now this may seem trite, but to say I am ignoring societal norms actually implies that I’m ignoring and often violating what most people would consider “right” and “wrong” or at the very least “offensive.” But culture and subculture is often broken. I personally find it repulsive to let someone starve or suffer from lack of medical care simply because they cannot find enough payed work or inherited money to buy it. I also find it repulsive to try to create an insular group to hypnotize each other into thinking highly of ourselves regardless of merit. I find I have little investment or care for things like other people’s feelings or expectations. So, while I remain a compassionate individual, I don’t bother to pull any punches, cup anyone’s bollocks, or pat anyone on the bum (unless I believe it will actually help them in the long run).

Nor do I bother about the social contracts such as whether a specific arena is caveat emptor, or supposed to play by gentleman’s rules, or we’re all putting (or pretending to put) all our cards on the table. I can trade based on personal reputation, so that matters to me, but all these social and societal concerns are purely utilitarian.

I assume little and choose actions based on expediency relative to my own intentions. I strive to keep these intentions honorable. I treat my three employees well, but we’re pirating and cannibalizing some old designs, no longer patented, in a market where people are playing by some Euro-specific “gentleman’s rules” and creating artificial market inefficiencies. Some might say I’m harming the particular culture, I say I’m evolving it.

Laws are a strange part of all this. It seems in many cases they are kind of farce, where the intention behind them takes second place and the unintended consequences are high. The war on drugs hasn’t kept a lot of my personal friends from getting addicted to soul-stealing chemicals like meth, yet I have seen it ruin a few people’s lives over less harmful drugs like marijuana. Further, dealing with immigration rules has taught me that social intentions underlying laws can be damned, I’m going to write what I need to in this paperwork to get what I want, so long as its either legal enough or legally illegible enough to spare me any consequences. I’ve never stayed a day illegally in Taiwan, yet I’ve circumvented the intentions of a lot of regulations, as have almost all the foreign teachers here.

My ultimate intentions of goodness reside only in my own sense of honor. I find my conscience is cleaner lately, yet I have an almost cavalier practicality and flagrant disregard about social rules, norms, and expectations along with other people’s feelings. I think I offend more people, yet I rest easier at night. I calculate more decisions based on advantages and disadvantages, and I feel less need to run over them again and again in my head to decide if what I did was morally right or wrong somehow.

I can point to timeless virtues, which withstand the eternal reality of change and evolution.  Such virtues include patience, equanimity, innocence, compassion.  I can also point to very real vices. The virtues and vices I can come up with are highly personal in nature, and don’t point to any specific rules or social norms per se.  For example, addiction, impatience, lust, greed and envy don’t point to any specific social norms that could stand for all time. Murder does, along with the other extreme examples of bodily violation, but that’s about it.  Almost everything else seems entirely situational.

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I read an absolutely genius website recently: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/FEARvsDANGER.html

This guy has the clearest ideas of real-world violence and violent human behavior that I’ve ever read. This reminds me of a lot of what we always say is “good kung fu.” I.E., there’s almost always a nonviolent way out, and why were you somewhere that violence was likely in the first place? In other words for violence to actually be “necessary,” you have to have made a series of complete fuck-ups leading up to that situation. Then, to actually “defend” yourself is usually to find the fastest path to escape.

Further, as I’ve always thought, there’s no such thing as a “fight” outside of duels and sparring. It isn’t a real barfight or street fight unless somebody is likely to draw a knife, gun, or bat or someone’s friend or associate is likely to draw one while you aren’t looking. No one is trying to “fight.” Either they are trying to warn you off with a threat display, they’re giving you an ultimatum (usually with some option to leave or exit without violence) or else they’re trying to murder you (because you declined their ultimatum or you already did something to ‘earn’ getting killed, like screwed their wife or screwed them in a drug deal).

But this guy takes it all a step further. He shows how people take the rules from their part of society and expect them to apply everywhere and in all situations, basically becoming bigotted pricks everywhere they go. Essentially people expect to break some of the ‘rules’ (screwing someone’s wife, going to a drug party in the ghetto) whilest assuming that other ‘rules’ will protect them (no one shoots people, no one violates my body without my permission). By this method, a lot of middle class men get shot and a lot of middle class girls get raped, simply by assuming their “rights” are god-given instead of society given.

He lays everything out so lucidly as to point to the simple truth: If you are oriented to reality as it is, rather than what you think it should be, you are always in a more powerful position.

This showed me that the way we’ve built up our society is good in some ways. I definitely like the fact that most of the time the greatest risk I suffer as a consequence of my words or actions is hurt feelings. That’s a safer world to live in than a barbaric one of constant possible violence. But we also effectively use this setup to manipulate situations to our benefit. At the end of the day, the person with the most savvy in whatever system they are in, is usually able to gain the most power, toys, money, or whatever….  and in the end, most people are playing to win.

Even playing “by the rules” is probably playing to win, through reputation, some sense of self-respect (boosting ego/confidence), social and personal justification, or else to marshall the rules in one’s favor as a protective measure (It’s nice to be able to manipulate social power in someone’s face while they cannot do anything about it because the “rules” protect your theivery, hate speech, backstabbing connivances, or stupid and self-serving actions). Most people surely hide their own attempts to “win” from themselves, because if they realized how twisted and ruthless their own games were, they might “lose” some of the psychological cookies that their social rules system gives them.

All this points me a clear direction: Know my intention, and act utterly in accordance with it…  hide nothing from myself — my sense of ‘fairness’ seems to mostly be a strategy from my childhood to manipulate those around me, so set it aside entirely and play ruthlessly, simply, absolutely to succeed. My “morals” will never be a stand-in for innocence.

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I have this habit, it’s a very bad one.  I’ve decided I need to face this since as long as the potential exists and I’m simply repressing myself, I haven’t actually dealt with the underlying issue.

Yesterday I was having around my family again and I got into an argument with my mom.  I truly felt she was being completely unreasonable about something and putting me into a very unpleasant bind.  However, the proper response would have been to ask for clarification, or to tell her that I felt she was presenting an impossible dilemma for me on something very important.

Instead I more or less reframed things in a way to place her in an impossible position, then she escalated the situation and I went for the jugular, saying things carefully as to leave her in tears, doubting her own self-worth (her particular weak spot).  I kept telling my dad to butt out, but his vocal observation at the time was that everything I said sounded fair.  Of course, I knew what I was doing.  Moreover, I intended it very cruelly at the time.  Later that evening, she left church early because she felt completely sickened and unable to practice piano.

My Qi Kung teacher pointed this out to me as well.  One time I and my Kung Fu schoolmates were out at a bar.  Some guy walked by and was an ass to me.  I said and did a couple of perfectly “harmless and reasonable” things and he nearly assaulted me.  My intention being that the other school mates would probably stop it from going too far and I would press charges against him, screwing up his employment, his relations with his family, taking money away from him etc, etc…  My Qi Kung teacher called me aside and essentially said, “I know what you’re doing, stop it.”

Further, and addressing the point of my writing about all this, my teacher was able to show me why I do this.  The basic feeling I have is that nothing I say matters much to anyone.  I don’t really feel like I have any social power, or social worth, and I don’t feel like anyone would really give a damn what I feel.  Usually in arguments I find people are pretty reluctant to show that they give a damn what the other person feels, so I tend to sense a lot of things that confirm my suspicion.  So when I become convinced that someone steps on me, I often form the intention to destroy them completely, or at least strike their weakest point as hard as I can, and proceed based on that.  My basic feeling is that anything less just won’t be noticed.

Interestingly enough, after the conversation about the guy in the bar, because of the way my teacher presented the situation to me, I harbored a lot of hatred towards my teacher.  I took it upon myself to actually damage the form of martial art that he had spent his life and love developing, to poison it subtly and carefully after he was gone.  I didn’t reveal this directly to him for awhile, but I have had a way of simultaneously holding all my good motivations and bad motivations inside my mind without feeling too bothered by the conflict.  All the time.

I’ve improved this in the last few years, taking what’s arguably an even colder approach and weighing out the advantages of destroying them or hurting them versus keeping them as an ally.  I know that sounds sick, but in a lot of cases, if I boil it down and don’t give myself any quarter for what appears to be self control, that’s what I’ve done.  So progress, I guess, was dropping the intention to hurt my teacher’s art and seeing learning it properly as more worth my time.

Regarding my mom, I stepped away, had some hot chocolate and read some law books for awhile.  As I was reading I was thinking that as long as there’s a potential for this to happen, then whatever the underlying cause is, I haven’t addressed it.  So I went back to my mom and asked her to give me a chance to listen to her and not try to take what she’s saying in the context of all the opinions I’ve formed about her throughout the years…  to try and listen with new ears.

Of course, she appreciated this, but ten times more important to me is that I felt like I shifted at least some of the potential for this to happen between us.  In other words, instead of merely repressing my deep-seated disdain for her and acting polite (which I could make a cost/benefit analysis for and probably maintain for years), I actually think I started getting past some of the crap we’ve built between us.

Beyond the specific issue with my mom, I often struggle to feel enough security in my worth to others regarding things I might need or want, like employment or someone caring for me, or even my friends caring what I have to say, to cease to be such a calculating reptile about it.  In social reality I still tend to use all my intellect, creativity, friendliness, and insight to try and prove worth to my friends, family and people I meet.  And I frequently don’t trust people to listen to me or care about me at all on the merit of my value as a person.  Though recently I’ve been fortunate to have some friends that have shown me they do care on those merits alone.

I’ve been around both my mom and my dad lately and noticed my patterns with them;  now I also see how I’ve developed symbiotic relationships with many of my friends and social groups to give me support based on the fact that they all basically like the persona with which I try and garner value.  I take little and very cold solace in the fact that most people are engaged in some kind of tacit bargaining like mine.

I cherish freedom and one of the only things I think is unethical is controlling others.  But all that I’ve been talking about are forms of control and methods to try and subtly and quietly negotiate it behind someone’s back.  It makes me feel sick to think about my whole issue with this, the extreme ends of my reactions to insecurities as well as the everyday manipulations involved — a big chunk of my entire lifestyle is built around it!

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One:  You weigh out all the positives and negatives.  You try and figure out which decision is best.  My problem with this, aside from the fact that it’s a rather dry way to live a life, is that I cannot juggle so many variables.  In other words, when I’ve tried to make choices this way, I often find that my assumptions are flawed, or there were aspects of the choice I couldn’t forsee.  Also it’s pretty common for a situation to change drastically, after which all my previous reasoning can be totally useless.

Two:  You pick a path that has a strong “charge” that gets you excited, where your emotions are buzzing and you feel a ton of anticipation.  While this can seem like a better way to live, it requires that I totally gloss over the fact that the “charge” I feel in a particular direction might be attributable to my own neuroses.  Remember rule number one, everyone is wounded.  This applies to me too.  Following an emotional charge in this way is how most people end up in the same relationship again and again and again.

Three:  You choose based on the aesthetics of a particular way.  In other words, a path appears to be the most beautiful, or the most powerful choice.  I rate this method higher than the first two, however there are still a few big problems with it.  First, if many paths have the appeal of beauty to them, then I am left with no way of choosing.  Secondly, this method is still prone to the same objections as the other two.  It could appear beautiful to me because my habits of aesthetic are locked into some unhealthy patterns, or I could rate something as beautiful and have accounted for its qualities in error.

I have spent my life making choices based on combining these three approaches.  And in so many instances, many of my choices were no better than a coin flip.  Worse, in a lot of cases I was committed to paths because of my own emotional wounds that generally produced worse results than a coin flip…  as in the case of getting myself into the same relationships or the same situations over and over and over again.

Following the heart seems to be the core of the two religions I’m most familiar with, Buddhism and Christianity.  It’s also advocated by great warriors of history.  Simply put, if I am certain I am taking the path that my heart truly wants, then I cannot be deferred, and mundane factors simply don’t matter to me (and there are such hardships in any path in life — probably more so in many purely chosen paths).  Moreover, even if I’m killed or otherwise prevented by circumstances, I’m still following the truest path I can take.  In other words, that kind of clarity is impossible to defeat.

I mean, put simply, if you know damned well you are truly following your heart, are you going to be deterred?  For me it wouldn’t matter if I knew I was supposed to go to India, to the place where mother Theresa did her work and just spend my life there, or if I were to become a lawyer or a forestry service officer or a teacher.  Given real clarity in the matter, most of the fears that drive everyone’s choices become irrelevant.

Yet the art of finding such clarity is hard to develop!

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I just awoke from a nightmare after a long evening nap.  I’ll probably try and go back to bed.  I know part of my nightmares came from reading criminal procedures texts for a good part of the day.

I have accepted that studying law now would almost certainly improve my performance in school later.  So I began reading earlier this week, and had gained momentum.  I know that studying four or five hours a day is pretty good for such an early attempt.  I only need to maintain the momentum.  Years of Kung Fu and practicing long meditations have given me enough experience to know how to keep training and building discipline on days when I don’t feel like it.

Every path has its hardships.  I feel that I can easily condition and discipline myself for the feats of learning necessary to do well in Law School, which by every single account I’ve come across is insanely difficult.

So I’ve felt comfortable at these early stages of Kung Fu.  Never mind the fact that I’m still unemployed, I feel that studying now will give me greater payoffs than a 13-dollar-an-hour temp job, and a new apartment, by far.  Knowing I’m doing something to serve my truest path gives me a clarity and freedom of actions, disowning social shame and guilt in a way I’ve never known before.  Ever.

Why did I title this “uncertainties?”  Well, nightmares are unpleasant, and color my feelings differently in the lonely silence of night.  My dream focused a bit on guilt and shame of being unemployed, but more so on my fear of police actions.  As I said, I think it stemmed from reading about criminal procedures all day.  I fear loss of freedom and liberty.  Being arrested or imprisoned is a common nightmare of mine, and one of my more intense fears.  So I woke up with a bunch of scary and unpleasant stories and memories rolling through my mind.

Typing this entry, reminding myself of what I’m doing, has helped me return to the ground and make clear choices about what I’m doing.  Though I still feel a little like the cops are outside the window.  I still feel afraid.

I also sense a sublimation of frustration about my romantic relationships, most recent one in particular.  Surely my greatest fear of all is fear of inadequacy.  All my lovers stand in accusation that I have failed to inspire any enduring affection, or any remaining desire to be with me in any of them.  Yet I am a devoted, attentive, and caring lover if I am sitting here typing this at all!

Sometimes I think I should train myself to not become so attached.  Fair enough.  I’m not sure where any of that would lead.  Something I wrote back in 2004 or 2005 said this:

[…]I can say what I’m actually afraid of right now.

I’m bitter because of my last long term relationship. I’m afraid
that I spent every bit of goodness and passion I had on it.. I
regret that I didn’t have the guts to lie sometimes, or to fight
just for myself. I regret that I was so single minded in thinking
of ‘us.’

I’m truly afraid that anyone I am attracted to is likely to be like
most of the women I’ve dated, that is, wounded and using the wounds
as an excuse to be mean, manipulative, generally fucked up and
wanting me to take care of them… then drawing me (willfully or
not) into being like that, so we “understand each other”
and “connect” because we’re the same… that’s just like my mom,
she did that exact thing to me. So I second guess every time I’m
attracted to someone that they’re going to be like that. I start to
wonder if I should date people I don’t hit it off with, who are just
sexy or interesting. If I hit it off with someone then I think it’s
because they are like what I know. So maybe I should just sleep
with someone completely different. I keep trying to get away from
doing the same patterns of what I know, but this is a hard pattern
to see an exit from…

Yea, and this long term relationship I have so many regrets about?
She looked JUST EXACTLY like my first girlfriend. When I first met
her I thought she was the same girl (after ten years), until I
learned her name… so was I going after that first relationship,
where I got hurt so much? Trying to recreate the one I can still
cry about if I start talking out loud about it to myself?…
probably so.. So, I’m trying to figure out what I’m attracted too
and what I like because it’s familiar and comfortable. I am happy
to step outside of comfort, but in this case

…it’s hard to even know what I’m doing just because it’s
comfortable, it’s so deep inside me… so I second guess the hell
out of myself.

Yea, so that’s my fear right now.

About five years after that relationship, I finally felt myself bonding even more with my lover than with the one I mentioned there.  But do we ever grow past these patterns?  It’s so fucked up that among my simplest, clearest intentions is to build a long term partnership with someone.  Yet I feel I’m still making many of the same mistakes.

Well, I should not say it quite like that.  I’m in a totally different place than I was five or six years ago.  But progress, when it comes to those deeper psychological pains feels like such a twisted pyrrhic victory sometimes.  And I still feel uncertainty and shame of failure.  I don’t even really know if I’m going about everything all wrong, nor do I know how to find out if I am.  Who does?

What’s my rule number one?  We’re all pretty messed up, but it’s okay.  I expect to be with a human being, not an imaginary ideal, and not a robot.  A decade of different lovers has taught me that.  What else can I give someone but love along with that acceptance?  Still, I have yet to inspire any enduring affection or loyalty in any one of the lovers I have invested myself in.

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Rule Number One

I’ve been messing around with this for awhile.  It just seems to summarize everything I’ve learned about people up ’till now, from being a pick up artist to trying to empathize and love people as they stared at and hated themselves…  even in learning to love myself and just chill out with people.

Jeannine’s Rule One:  Everyone is fucked up.  There are very few exceptions.

It has to be said with humor though.  Because the point is not to judge.  I started thinking this when I was with my ex girlfriend last year and she kept talking about how problematic she was, and all the things that were wrong with her.  I would often tell her, “everyone is crazy, unless I start taking robots for lovers, it’s just part of all this.”  I’d smile.  Usually she’d still be upset, because she was upset at herself.  But sometimes she’d calm down and relax, be loved, laugh at herself a little, and ease up on herself.

Then I realized that I could give myself the same space.  God, it’s so easy to compare myself to other people and think I’m lacking.  Also, in social situations, it’s easy to feel inadequate, or like there’s something wrong with me.  But here’s a post from a lady on a message board I am on:

“I am considered to be attractive, and I attract lots of people who
like me physically and women who want to be friends with me. The
problem is that I make almost all men and women feel uncomfortable
when they make an effort to meet me. They think I’m rejecting them,
but I’m not. I have social anxiety that they don’t know about. I am
ready to start interacting with new people and I want them to feel
comfortable enough to approach me and to talk to me. I’ve missed out
on some good opportunities to get to know some real nice people. These people thought that I blew them off. Feelings were hurt and I feel awful that I had any part in hurting their feelings without even
intending to. It makes me very sad when I see them or when I am
reminded of these people. I don’t want to have any more of these kind
of regrets. I’ve been noticing that people feel so good when I step
out of my comfort zone and pay attention to them. It makes me feel
good that I can make people feel happy by simply acknowledging them so I want to be able to that more.

My husband is very attractive and gets flirted with and hit on by many
women all the time whenever we do anything social. Men also find me attractive enough to really like me, but my lack of response to them seems to intimidate even men who are confident and outgoing. I don’t want my husband and I to seem so out of balance in social situations anymore. I’m starting to make eye contact and smiling more, but I could still use a boost. Most of the time men just stare at me wide eyed and wait for me to smile at them. Although that’s starting to change and I’ve been noticing more men smiling and flirting with me, but I’m still shy so I usually pretend I didn’t see most of them. Most women smile at me. It usually doesn’t get past the stares or smiles though. I do very well with the few people who actually feel comfortable enough to come over and talk to me to the point that it seems to confuse the ones who I was too shy around when they tried to get to know me by being friendly with just smiling at me and taking it from there.”

I like her post because she is honest and also because it reveals just how different people can perceive a person from how that person actually is.  Yet so commonly people mystify the situation with others as if someone else has their shit all together or something.  But in reality, they’re probably as crazy as you are.

Reading that quote I think of one time when I was working really hard to be friendly at a party, with some new teachers who had just come to Taiwan.  It was a festival night and we were all out eating Sushi.

Some people thought I was a social genius and super cool and fun to hang out with, with tons of creativity.  My girl thought I was a huge flirt and couldn’t be trusted.  And my own feeling was of putting in a lot of effort just to be social and try and help the new people feel welcome while finding a way to feel like I could “fit in” with my own queer image.

I would have preferred to eat sushi, drink wine, and just talk a little with people I liked.  I picture my dream version of that night with me sitting in the corner, having a couple of quiet convos and saying sweet things with my lover between wine and sushi.

Oh yea, I also remember there was one really popular guy in that party and I tried really hard to impress because everyone liked him.  I told a subtle joke about myself alone with him, talked about computers with the geeky guy, talked about artsy crap with the hipsters, and talked about Southern soul food with the other Southerners.

My point is, I was just a normal person, with huge insecurities, trying to feel good about how I thought other people felt towards me.  Some people thought I was oh-so-subtle, and others might have thought I was a jackass.  Later my girlfriend didn’t even trust me.  But did anyone actually know what went on inside of me?  And did I know what went on inside of them?  Just like with the lady I quoted above, and so many other people, no and no.

I dislike how all our humanity and realness is lost in that kind of calculated and complicated social interaction.  Maybe this “rule” will help keep me a little more grounded in reality, and remind me to accept myself and be real with other humans.

As for the “rule,” lately I’ve been feeling a little too upset to take it as lightly as I originally meant it.  So on bad days, when I might forget to take it all lightly:

Rule Number One (for bad days):  It’s Okay.

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