With my PC having given its final buzzes months ago and my laptop suddenly deciding to flip me the bird – or whatever tech does when it fails on you – yesterday, I’m left with all too much idle time to think. Also, very frustratingly, I’m left writing this blog on my phone, so if you encounter stupid spelling or grammatical errors, please go complain to whoever is in charge at autocorrect for Android.
Three things came to mind over the past 24 hours since I’ve entered my involuntary disconnect from technology and therefore, work. Well, four, if you count the frustrated and ceaseless internal dialogue that revolves around getting out of tech for work because being this dependent on anything that can just suddenly give up and leave you stranded is really not practical or sensible, getting out of the city and going back to basics by living on a rural plot of land and having pets for company. But that’s just my incessant conviction that I’m in the wrong place doing the wrong thing poking me with the ol’ stick while singing some form of mocking recital in an annoying tone. Apparently getting older involves a nagging urge to get back to your roots… In my case, it’s more vineyards than roots. (That wasn’t a thinly veiled hint that I drink a lot of wine, it just means I hail from a wine producing area…now pay attention to what I’m saying and ignore the glass of wine in my hand)
The first epiphany of this phase is one I had a while back, which originally surfaced somewhere between when I was driving and working, or working and being on the phone, or some random combination of actions which left the epiphany mostly feeling like the last kid picked for a team in PT dodge ball. Basically, I had the thought and then filed it under ‘Yes, that’s nice… Now go play, mommy’s busy.’
The first epiphany was about trust and how, one way or another, you’re forced to have it. You can deem yourself the least trusting person you know, but still, you simply have to place trust outside yourself every single day. A lot of us do it without thinking because it’s just part of the daily routine. Every time you go to bed, you trust that the mattress you bought will actually give you a decent night’s rest and that your alarm clock or phone will do as you commanded and wake you up in the morning. You trust that your kettle will boil the water you need for the coffee that will essentially be the differentiating factor between you borderline tolerating everyone else you see for the first few hours of the day, or being the next samurai sword killer in your work environment (even if it’s just you, mentally fantasizing about it). It gets bigger than that though. (I say, trying to repress any urge to give myself the “Yeah it does!” comeback, mentally high-fiving myself). You have to place your trust in other people, on a daily basis. Even if you feel you’ve been royally screwed over by people and you just can’t trust anyone. Every time you get in your car and drive, you have to trust that every other driver on the road around you, is alert, sober and competent, although in reality you really can’t ever know for sure. You have to trust that your car will keep running smoothly like it’s supposed to. When you’re sick, you have to trust that your doctor is paying attention when you see him and doesn’t just give you a rushed diagnosis and prescription because his mind is elsewhere or he’s having a crappy day. You have to trust that your insurance company will pay out if something goes wrong and that you’ll get your pay check at the end of the month. We place so much automatic trust in all these systems we’ve become accustomed to that when they fail us, we feel extremely violated and mistreated. Yet at the end of every interaction or institution is another person, going through just as much chaos as you are, maybe even more.
So when trust boils down to the few things we have some control over, like with friends, family and relationships, we really bite down hard with insisting that these people must be fully deserving of our trust. Trust in a system we are immersed in doesn’t take too much thought, but trust on a personal level makes people extra cautious and hesitant. We get so caught up in job titles and appearances that we somehow forget that the deepest driving force, that can propel or completely derail us, is emotion. But just as things sometimes stop working, break down, memos are lost and miscommunication happens in other aspects of life, sometimes trust stumbles between people, often very accidentally. We can say “Ah, it’s life, these things happen” when our car breaks down or flights are delayed, but it’s so much harder to have that attitude when it involves trust in someone close. The connection and investment is obviously deeper, but the margin for human error is no less possible. So why do we forget that so easily?
The second epiphany was that we will never fully know the truth about life or those around us. There will always be unanswered questions and small details – or even big secrets – we just won’t ever know about. In logical terms: you can only work with what you know and what you have available to you. Anyone who is so obsessed with knowing absolutely everything to the last detail, will drive themselves insane and be very miserable long before that happens. Unless you grew up with your partner and had one of those “we spent every moment since childhood together and never separated” situations, you’ll have to face that you won’t really know absolutely everything about them. Even if they told you, you can only piece together their tales in a way that you understand, with your own interpretation, which may well be very far off form how they experienced it at the time. It’s been said many times, but all you really have is the present. Accept, reject or judge them based on what you see before you now, not what they did or were before. Their presence in your life should be clear indication enough if they are right for you and make you feel that this friendship or relationship is right. And if you accept them, understand that you are accepting their past as well and that you can’t pass judgment based on a time you weren’t with them, because each interaction is completely unique in circumstance, mindset and emotion. Causality may have brought out the worse or the better in them before, just as causality will affect how your relationship is with them and vice versa.
The third and final epiphany is about puzzle pieces and the intricacy of the human condition. We are each so completely unique in our genetic makeup, our upbringing and life experience, that the notion of ever generalizing anyone is utterly insane. Sure, there are archetypes in this world and to some degree you can classify and put a tag on people, but when you dig deeper you see the vast, individual aspects and you understand they are still completely unique. Treating anyone a certain way because of their surface characteristics like race, gender or appearance, means you are trying to give a headshot to a deer… In fishing season, while on a boat the Atlantic Ocean. Point is you miss everything in the end. Considering how many pieces of puzzle we each have and consist of and seek in others, it’s amazing that anyone finds someone agreeable enough to spend a lifetime with. But that’s where the good old toolbox gets whipped out and a little something called compromise steps up to fill the cracks between pieces that don’t fit so well and to align the pieces in a way that makes the final picture into something that actually works. Without the ability to understand that even if there was a “the one” for each of us, some sanding down edges and replanning a few parts will need to happen. Nobody is a master key that fits in anywhere, nobody had a bunch of universal pieces that just click into place perfectly with anyone else’s. The true test of building a co-joined puzzle is in the dedication to finding a solution and focusing on mutual progression, instead of a tug of war for territory.
So there go you. A little glimpse into my mind of late. If this made no sense, please feel free to mail me and I’ll send you a seriously sincere letter of apology, wherein I also state the disclaimer below:
Nothing is always applicable to everyone. So if this meant nothing to you, you either don’t have any need to think about it at this stage, or you already know all this (in which case, good on you)