what the mirror cannot see
I’ve spent the better part of the last six months working to develop my “professional” identity – improving my business website, adding a blog and writing about business stuff, polishing up the look-and-feel and getting my avatars in order. (Social media is important these days, you know.) But a professional presence doesn’t allow for writing about emotion, reflecting personal experience, discussing opinions that are difficult to express, unless you just vomit it all right out.
So, hello, A1 Great! I knew I kept you around for more than opportunities for sticker vandalism. Vomit sentiment, coming right up.
Oftentimes, I will hear, or read, that people are angry about whatever, and I often think that that’s a pretty strong word for what must surely be a lesser emotion – miffed? Peeved? Bothered? Pissed off? I recall only a few times where I was ever truly angry about something, most notably sometime in the summer immediately following grade six… just turned twelve, which indicates the maturity level of all involved in this anecdote.
I was being goaded by a few of the neighbourhood bullies to get into a fight with a sort-of friend who I was hanging out with a friend behind our school one evening. All the usual inflammatory language came out, as was always the case with these jackasses, who were a known entity at that point – faggot, pussy, homo, and so on. I don’t remember exactly why I reached the boiling point, or how long it took to get there that night, because my usual MO was to get the hell away from people who were intimidating to me – avoid, avoid, avoid. So maybe my fuse blew after only a minute or so? In any case, I shoved the lead villain in this story, knocking him over, screamed like a motherfucker, grabbed his bike, sent it tumbling down the hill on top of which we were standing. I remember that tumble seeming to take forever, as the bike flipped end over end, crashing to the bottom of what seemed, as a kid, to be a huge hill (but what actually is barely a rise in the horizon – I checked. See it there, behind the walking path and trees? Spatial memory is tricky stuff.)
Anyway, that forever tumble gave me time to contemplate the ass-kicking I was sure to receive after having pulled that stunt, but what actually happened was that those three kids looked at each other and walked away, leaving the bike at the bottom of the hill for another time. My sort-of friend and I stood there for a minute, amazed at whatever energy it was that I had tapped into in that moment, and kind of felt jubilant at having won one encounter, one time, with the sorts of people who meant to make our lives miserable as often as possible.
Then I went home.
That my most memorable experience with anger is so distant in the past – some of you should be able to do the math on this – is indicative of a life that is being pretty well lived, I think. For the most part, I have surrounded myself with people that are easy to love, easy to spend time with, easy to find the good in. Professional contacts are usually of my choosing, making it simple to discard those whose money is not worth my time. Persons on my periphery are treated as such, acknowledged as they draw near, and left to their own devices when they fade from view. It’s all pretty OK with me.
Disappointment, however. Yeah. Disappointment is difficult for me to handle.
Everyone who knows me knows that I like to have a plan. I like to know what’s happening, where people will be, what needs to be done in order to have the optimal experience at any given time. I’ve sort of always been like this, though being too close to tragic situations over the past few years have sharpened this wish – need – to be spending my time with the right people, taking advantage of opportunities, and doing my best to reject any attitude of “we’ll do it another time”. Another time is not promised to you or I, and it’s not a promise any of us can make to anyone else, either.
So, when a plan falls through, disappointment tends to hang over me. And when disappointment hits because people are aloof with their respect for my role in their lives, that turns, for me, into feeling like I am being taken for granted. And fuck, if that one isn’t a stone that’s I just can’t pass, dear reader. Being taken for granted. I’m burning up just thinking about it.
Because being taken for granted causes you – me – to take stock of what I thought was in place. A quick list is taken, favors and kind gestures become points of resentment, and you – I – start to wonder why I have given so much time, energy, money, love. Days, months, years. Is the gratitude I have received in the past genuine, or am I just kind of convenient to have around sometimes? Do I not ask the right questions, talk about the right subjects, show that I’m listening? Am I not there when I am needed, make commitments and mean it?
Are we family, or what?
Yesterday was my birthday, and yesterday I was made to feel as though I am being taken for granted. The exact details are unimportant, and the reason why doesn’t matter much to me, either – I can’t believe anyone would be thinking of ways to make me unhappy, but in my mind, “whoops, we just didn’t think of you” is worse than a specific person having a specific problem. I can shove a specific problem, throw it down a hill, cause it to fall over and fade away.
I thought I was already doing all the right stuff. This disappointment, this feeling of being taken for granted, has me taking stock. Maybe not.
As I raise my head to broadcast my objection
As your latest triumph draws the final straw
Who died and lifted you up to perfection?
And what silenced me is written into law.
Listen: R.E.M., “Final Straw”
I can’t believe where circumstance has thrown me
And I turn my head away
If I look I’m not sure that I could face you.
Not again. Not today. Not today.
If hatred makes a play on me tomorrow
And forgiveness takes a back seat to revenge
There’s a hurt down deep that has not been corrected.
There’s a voice in me that says you will not win.
And if I ignore the voice inside,
Raise a half glass to my home.
But it’s there that I am most afraid,
And forgetting doesn’t hold. It doesn’t hold.
Now I don’t believe and I never did
That two wrongs make a right.
If the world were filled with the likes of you
Then I’m putting up a fight. I’m putting up a fight.
Putting up a fight. Make it right. Make it right.
Now love cannot be called into question.
Forgiveness is the only hope I hold.
And love – love will be my strongest weapon.
I do believe that I am not alone.
For this fear will not destroy me.
And the tears that have been shed
It’s knowing now where I am weakest
And the voice in my head. In my head.
Then I raise my voice up higher
And I look you in the eye
And I offer love with one condition.
With conviction, tell me why.
Tell me why.
Tell me why.
Look me in the eye.
Tell me why.
this is not a parable
My new formula for determining a person’s age works like this: review that person’s Facebook and Twitter feeds in the day or two leading up to January 1, and tally the number of complaints from people who are sick, who can’t get a babysitter, who can’t find a “family friendly” activity to do, or are otherwise unable to get energized for New Year’s eve. More instances of these kinds of updates equals more oldness.
I have counted nine of these in my own streams, from the past twenty-four hours. And there’s still a whole half-day for things to go wrong out there. I think that makes me pretty old!
Listen: R.E.M., “It Happened Today”
What I haven’t counted is all of my own various updates and posts through 2010, so I don’t think I’m in a position to offer an authoritative recap of the year that was. Based on current feeling, however, I think it’s safe to say that 2010 was a better set of months than many that came before – everyone has been pretty healthy, business was busy enough, and the neighbor continues to plow my driveway when it’s snowed in. These are all good things.
I do acknowledge that I didn’t update the mighty A1 Great as much as I would have liked, so I guess a resolution is in order here. Other than that, I’m going to spend more time with family, put extra effort in at the gym and in the swimming pool, and continue to enjoy wining and dining around town and at home with my lovely wife.
And play more pool. That should be a priority.
you come back for more
Have we talked about the new C’mon album? It’s called Beyond The Pale Horse, it’s awesome, and though it’s hard to pick a favorite, I do love this song. I love it so much that it came to mind when I was playing not-Scrabble with my brother and nephew this past weekend.
Listen: C’mon, “Burn The Document”
I also really dig the macro mode on my camera, though that’s an interest that comes and goes, I find.
three tries, three days
There are people who like to fiddle and fuss with things, twiddle the knobs a degree or two, throw a variable in there, maybe a comma instead of a semi-colon and give it a shot. Me? I’m into attention to detail, but really, when it comes down to it, when stuff just works, I’m happy with that.
Listen: Blurtonia, “I Don’t Want to Kill Today”
Stuff isn’t just working at the moment, due to fiddly plugins and an even more fiddly client. I may just crowd surf off a cliff.