Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Making of the Meaning

I saw something yesterday that made me think something I haven't (clearly) thought about in months: I should write a blog post about that.


Here's the set-up:

The boyfriend and I were walking along the sidewalk (speaking of the boyfriend, I will definitely get around to writing some of the amazing and challenging and special and "I won't trade them for the world and you can't make me" lessons I'm learning through dating—don't you worry—but today isn't that day, haha). Anyways, the boyfriend and I were walking, right? Yeah, I mentioned that... Ok, so the boyfriend and I were walking (it kind of rolls off the tongue now, doesn't it?). So we were walking and after some time made it to an intersection. It's important to know it was dark at this point.

Let me stop for a second on darkness. It's amazing how much things change in the dark, isn't it? I mean, I can be totally comfortable walking or driving some place in the day, but put me in the same situation after dark and I'm completely baffled. Am I even in the same place? Everything looks so different! This is important, for the story and for the point. For now, I just want to point out how much empathy, patience, and understanding you should have for yourself and others who are "in the dark" literally, spiritually, psychologically, etc. Darkness can do some jedi mindtricks on you, and you're left none-the-wiser to its antics. You just take in the information you're given, and you make the best decision you can with the knowledge you have. It's only after new and more complete information is given that your perspective can change. So, empathy, give it. Nuff said.

Back to the story, at the intersection, in the dark...

I look up, and see approaching a REALLY slow moving car. I mean, it's moving painfully slowly. I'm thinking we have enough time to cross the street before it passes us... but I'm unsure, so I wait. I also notice one other peculiar thing about this car... it's completely silent. I listen intently for the sound of an engine, but there isn't one. Hmmmm... weird.

Do you think I questioned anything at this point? No... I didn't. Should you be questioning everything at this point? Hint, yes.

The car proceeds to pass us (again, painfully slowly, as I mentioned earlier). I'm still thinking how peculiar it is that it's not making any noise. Then, I see the headlights separating: one is pulling out in front of the other! In some Matrix-like spirit, I think I'm going crazy, but then I feel stupid. Like, "duh," it's not a car at all... it's two bikes!

Couple of nuggets in there for me that I wanna mention.

One: It's interesting to me that when I'm corrected, I instantly feel stupid, like I somehow should have had the magic knowledge to know those were two bikes, not a slow, silent car. This is important to slow down and note because this isn't innocuous, this isn't something to be trifled with. That feeling of stupidity upon truth, that's the voice of perfectionism in my head, telling me that even one fault on my part should have me running into a corner ashamed to be myself. It didn't hurt anyone that I was thinking "car" until I knew otherwise.... and I did the best with the knowledge I had at the time.. but still my inner critic would love to have me feeling painfully ashamed at my "mistake" and would love for me to have been silent and anxious the rest of the night.

Look, we all have our own things that get to us. My perfectionism likes to speak up in the realm of wisdom and knowledge: things I think I'm supposed to know. I'm sure you have your own enemies, but I encourage you to identify them and to "invite them to the table" as Brene Brown puts it. In other words, know who they are and exactly what you're going to say to them when they show up. They're menacing, but they're really quite predictable, so if you have a script ready for when you know they'll show up... well, you win.

Two: Things change. Sometimes you can't see them coming and that's ok. Sometimes it takes a progression and a shift, and that's uncomfortable or unexpected, but once you make that shift your whole vision changes and you see the world (or your problem) in a whole new way.

The only thing that changed one care into two bikes was time and perspective. I don't think time HEALS all wounds, but I know time CHANGES all wounds. The hurt that you're having right now will not feel the same as looking back on that memory 5 years from now. The pain and the wound might not go away, but it will be different than it is now.

Further, it's so easy to make assumptions off of what we think is true, only to find out later that we were wrong about what we saw/thought/felt. This isn't a bad thing, it's just a human thing. It doesn't call for judgment, but it does call for patience. Be patient with yourself. When you feel like you want to say something in a rush, wait for a minute. Ask yourself if this is something that needs to be said "right now" or ask yourself "where is my sense of urgency coming from?" Do you have all the facts? What facts might have alternate explanations? This isn't an exercise in self-deprecation, but in wisdom. In fact, it was a common practice in my graduate school program to include "alternate explanations" when we were writing up treatment plans and diagnoses. This is because to be human is to make assumptions, and to frequently and humorously err sometimes. Anyways, it's better to point it out yourself than to barrel along in ignorance until someone else points it out to you (and even then, be patient with yourself).

Also, be patient with others. I cannot tell you the number of people with "trigger fingers" that I see and hear on the daily. Something about having listeners at our fingertips gives everyone this incessant urge to speak with both rapid succession and insipid conviction about anything they feel they "know" something (anything) about. It's easy to be reactionary, to be angry with these people for telling you about the silent car that you've seen is really two bikes... but getting angry at them doesn't do any good because they're still looking at the car. They have NO WAY of seeing the bikes, so pointing it out to them simply alienates them and makes them more verbal, angry, and disgruntled. You can't tell them it's two bikes, but maybe you can encourage them to be patient with themselves and to examine their knowledge from every perspective.

Three: community, community, community. We all have blind spots. They are impossible to see. As much as I want to know all my spots and find them before anyone else does... well, that just doesn't happen. It can be embarrassing (the voice of perfection speaking, again) but it's inevitable that someone will catch you with your fly down (so to speak). Let them. I once heard a psychologist say that getting feedback is always to your benefit because it either 1) tells you something that you decide is worth changing, thus making you a better person, or 2) tells you something that you decide is not true or not worth changing, and can thus be dismissed and done away with. Basically, why not listen, because you can decide if you want to do something with it or not.

I'd say this is one of my more casual and more "rambly" posts... but hey, it is late at night, I haven't written in awhile, and it was a true story.

Let things change, it doesn't mean you were wrong, or stupid, it just means that things changed. Re-compute and walk on, all the wiser. Also, hold interpretations loosely, because it only takes a little time and perspective to shift them completely.

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