Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Me and Everything in the Universe

I have recently been realizing more and more how certain stories or scenarios play out over and over again in human history. There are countless examples of this, but some of them are -

-the rebellious teenager
-the leader who lets power go to his head
-the scientist who makes a discovery that changes everything
-the parents who work hard to support a family
-the traveler who feels strange in a foreign land
-the jilted lover
-the discovery of peace in nature
-the person who wants to become a doctor because doctors have helped him
-the loss of faith after the loss of a loved one
-the drug addict who never thought he would end up a drug addict

This list could go on forever, but you get the point. The same story happens over and over to different people, and yet when one of these things happens to us, we often feel entirely alone and unique. Should we not look at these similarities and gain strength from them rather than focus on our perceived isolation and differences?

What does it mean that these kinds of things happen again and again in history? Is it just a pattern? Does it mean anything? I'm not sure what the answers are. The logical side of me says that since humans are one species, then of course they will have similar behaviors and thus similar stories. Yet the emotional side of me says that maybe we can derive a deeper meaning or connection from our similar experiences. Maybe the rebellious teenager in the 1980s has a connection with the rebellious teen of today. Maybe the same can be said for rebellious teens on opposite sides of the planet. Are we meant to learn from these shared commonalities, or is is just a coincidence?

I want to think there is a reason for all this repetition in a chaotic world, and so that is what I will believe. I will continue to try to derive meaning from it until there is a very good reason to stop. Because why not try to find a connection with space, and time, and other humans, and everything in the universe?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What We Sweep Under The Rug

I know quite a few people who seem to be perfectionists. They brag about how much they clean their house or about how much work they get done. When they post pictures of themselves or their kids on the internet, everything seems to be perfect. There is not a hair out of place or a wrinkle in the clothes. But when I see these people, my thought is - "We all only have 24 hours in a day and there are always things you can't get done. So what kinds of things do these people neglect?"

For some reason I am always fascinated by the things people keep secret, or the things they just don't talk about often. So what are the not-so-perfect parts about a perfectionist's life that they don't want to talk about? Is their shower disgustingly dirty? Do they forget to pay a bill on time? Do they have moldy food in the fridge? Do they have poor relationships because they spend all their time on less-important things like cleaning? I wouldn't judge anyone for any of these things, especially because I have done one or two of them myself. So why do they hide it? Are they afraid they will be judged by others? Are they ashamed they can't do it all?

In addition to being interested by the secrets people keep, I am also interested by the way people prioritize their time. How do they decide what is important to get done in a day, and what they can let slide? This may seem like an obvious question to a lot of people. But for someone like me who has anxiety, even the smallest decisions can become crippling. So I wonder, if a person only has time to vacuum or mop, which do they choose? If you have to choose between cleaning the bathroom or spending time with your family, what do you do? I think most people would choose family time. But then what if there is always something more important than cleaning the bathroom? Do you just give up on cleaning it?

I have kind of come to the conclusion over my lifetime that there is never a perfect choice. It may not matter if you choose mopping over vacuuming, or it may make all the difference in the world. You won't know until you make the choice. I have learned to just try to go with the flow and base my decisions off of what feels right and what has worked for me in the past. Others can give advice, but ultimately my choices are my own, so it doesn't really matter what other people say. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't, but it will never be perfect. Life never is.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Two Perspectives

I would like you to picture, for a moment, two cars that are traveling down the same road at the same time of day. The people inside are seeing and feeling the same area at the same time, so they must be having the same experience, right? Not so fast. I didn't tell you that the two cars are very different. One is a beautiful luxury car with leather seats and air conditioning. It has a very good sound system and the ride is very smooth. As the car passes, people notice it and comment on it's beauty or wave at the driver.

The second car is a little worse for wear. It is old and beat-up, and barely runs. There is no air conditioning, and the stereo only plays two garbled radio stations. The ride is very bumpy, and as the car passes, people either don't notice or look at it in disgust. Now do you still think the drivers are having the same experience?

I wanted to use this metaphor to show how easy it is to mistake a common road with a common experience. People often seem to think that they know how others feel if they have been in the same situation. There are similarities, of course, when people go through the same things. Yet people tend to forget how vastly different human bodies (a.k.a. the cars) can be. Each person sees and perceives the world differently based on their background, personality, and looks.

I'm not recommending that we highlight our differences. On the contrary, we should look for our commonalities and build understanding from those things we share. But we should not assume that someone feels the same way we did when we were in the same situation. That only leads to hurt and misunderstanding. The person in the old car might feel very bad if he were judged for having a stressful ride just because the driver of the luxury car had a pleasant ride on the same road. The two drivers could share in their common experience without assuming the other should have felt the same. That way, the drivers can share their similar experiences without feeling judged for their different perceptions.

I want to take one moment to also say that if you leave a comment on my blog, please write something to indicate that you have actually read and understood it. Otherwise, I will probably delete your comment because it seems you are just trying to advertise your website in the comments.




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Complications

I have been realizing more and more lately how relationships and communication seem to get harder and harder as I get older. My fist inclination towards this subject is that communication should get EASIER as I get older. After all, you live you learn, right? And I have learned plenty about relationships and how to deal with different people in my life. But I think the complexities come from age, not inexperience. What I mean is, as you get older, you have more baggage and more unhealthy patterns that you revert to during stressful times. It's not that you suck at communicating. It's that it takes more and more work to wade through the growing complications and make any sort of progress.

I am an eternal optimist at heart, even when the things I hope for are almost completely impossible. So I don't look at past baggage and growing issues as a reason to give up on communication. For the most part, I am always trying to do better and understand others better. But it does get discouraging at times when it seems like there is no way through the maze of misunderstandings and past damage done to a relationship. I have found that a lot of people find it difficult, if not impossible, to move on from things other people have done to them. This, obviously, puts up a barrier between open communication.

Wrongs of the past are not the only obstacles to good communication, either. The longer a person lives, the more they develop coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult things, and some of these can be detrimental to communication with other people. For example, if a person is an alcoholic, other people may not want to talk to that person because they are rude or angry all the time. Also, with alcohol constantly impairing him or her, the person may not have the mental capacity to even carry out a meaningful conversation. That's a simple example, but take into account that one person can have multiple problems hindering their communication and it is no wonder so many people find it so difficult.

I don't claim to be any sort of expert on relationships or communication. I am far from it. I am only drawing on my own experience and difficulties with communicating with people in my life. Sometimes I wish that if I had a super power it could be to make a person feel how I feel, and I could feel how they feel. If that happened, I think there would be a lot less misunderstandings. But since that is not likely to ever happen, I will just have to keep guessing at other people's feelings, and hopefully I will get good enough at it to someday have great relationships with all who I interact with.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What Will Happen Will Happen

I read something on the internet once that said, "Trying to clean the house when the kids are home is like trying to brush your teeth while eating an Oreo." I don't have any kids, but I feel like this is a good metaphor for my life in general. It seems like whenever I am trying to get something done, there are always larger forces at play that basically void whatever I am trying to do.

It's hard for me to explain what I am talking about, but I'll try. It's like when you are trying to eat healthy, only to discover that the vegetables you are eating have been sprayed with toxic pesticides. It's like always washing your hands to stay clean, only to discover you are using contaminated water. It's like trying to recycle to save the planet only to find out that the planet can't be saved by recycling. It's like trying to be a good person only to realize being a good person doesn't guarantee you a better life.

You see what I mean? I want to do the right thing and live a good life, but many times it is so discouraging knowing that everything you do could be for nothing, or everything you do could be the wrong thing. Most of the time you never know if you are doing the best thing. You just have to take a stab at it and hope your life turns out the way you want.

I sometimes get down about all the unknown forces that may destroy my life even as I try desperately to avoid them. But I think at that point, I just need to stop worrying about things I can't control. We all do the best that we can, and if our best is not good enough there is nothing else we can do but relax and let what will happen, happen.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Right Amount of Love to the Right Places

When I go to websites such as Facebook, I often notice that certain people get a lot of likes and responses on things they post. These people obviously have a lot of friends and are well-liked. Then there are others who usually get few likes, even when you can tell they are posting something that is very important to them. Do these people deserve less love than the people who get hundreds of likes? Probably not. But I think in our efforts to do what is popular, we often forget about others who probably need more love and attention than the people who already get it.

Is it good to generate good feelings and positivity by liking what people post? Of course. Could we more effectively use our power of positivity on people who are more deserving or needing? I think so. We all need to feel loved and valued, and for popular people, that feeling usually comes more easily because they get a lot of love from a lot of people. But for not-so-popular people, feeling loved can be a struggle because they don't hear that they are loved very often.

I'm not saying that the popular people need less love. But why can't we give the same amount of love to the less popular people? If you had two people and one was starving and the other was well-fed, who would you give food to? Certainly to the starving person. Yet I think there are many people who are starving for love while others continue to heap it upon those who are satisfied.

Why can't we give more love to those who are starving for it? I don't just mean on social media, either. I'm sure you come across someone almost everyday who needs more love. Why not give a smile or a kind word when it can mean the difference between surviving and thriving? I think sometimes, in our efforts to fit in, we forget to spread love to those who need it the most. This post is a reminder to myself and everyone that we can create a lot more good in the world if we give more love to those who don't get it readily.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

True Friend or Conveniently Kind?

Since I grew up as a shy and awkward sort of child in a place with a lot of religious people who are taught to be nice to everyone, I often had people who where not my friends who would once in a while be very kind to me. They would go out of their way to make an effort to make me feel included or liked. This is commendable, because I believe we all need to make more of an effort to make others feel worth-while and appreciated. On the same note, I feel like probably 90 percent of the time these efforts are not genuine or altruistic.

This is a problem because it means the people who are trying to be kind are not really doing it unselfishly to make you feel better. They are doing it to make themselves feel better. They want to feel like they are doing the right thing, but they don't want to put the effort in that it takes to truly be a friend. They seem to be doing it out of some moral or religious obligation or expectation rather than a real feeling of compassion, love, or friendship.

For example, I had a seminary teacher who hardly ever seemed to notice me, yet for about a week he would go out of his way to try to make conversation with me. After that week - nothing. Or the time when a peer club in high school put some candy in my locker with some type of note saying how I was a special person. I immediately threw the candy in the trash, and hoped one of them saw it. This was probably a little over-dramatic on my part, but give me a break, I was in high school. It probably also wasn't fair to the peer club kids who were also in high school and who were just trying to do something nice. The point is, what I needed at that time was a real friend. Someone who I could talk to about my fears and problems without judgement. I didn't need a cheap treat and a shallow card. I needed true effort and time.

There was also the time when my mom died when I was a teenager, and I had multiple grown women come to me and tell me that they would be there for me if I needed anything. Do you think I ever had another single meaningful conversation with any of those women? You guessed it. Now maybe I am just bitter, angry, or over-sensitive. Obviously these people's hearts were in the right place, and maybe I was too moody or unapproachable and they felt like they couldn't get through to me. But, too this day, I still can't stand fake and shallow attempts at kindness. I have seen people talk kindly to someone's face and then talk crap behind their back. I can only assume they do it to me also. If you are going to be a friend, do it right, and not just so you can feel better about all the wrongs you have done that person.

This post maybe all about being hypocritical, because I probably don't try to be a true friend as much as I could. However, I am very aware of whether or not I am being genuine, and I try to never do anything that is not genuine. I know how much it hurts to think you have made a friend, only to be abandoned when it is no longer convenient. I don't wish to make anyone else feel like that. If you are trying to be a better person, start with being nice, but realize that, at some point, you will have to step it up and be a true friend if you don't want to come off as shallow or insincere.