Every once in a while, I take a closer look at the many interesting ways I manage to screw my life up and hold those experiences up to a magnifying glass, looking for some crumb of evidence that I’m doing something right, but more often find that I’m not. I just want to make my life better. There are those that look up at the stars and dream and hope. Hope is nice. It is what I hang onto when I’ve done all I can do and everything hangs by it. However, until that moment comes when all of my efforts have been exhausted I usually end-up turning my world upside down. You can’t change others(which I have found to be an ultimate truth in the universe) nor should you try! (unless they come looking for guidance, and sometimes not even then). So, you might as well start fixing things right under your nose.
Lately, I”ve been reflecting a lot about my choice and or willingness of myself to bend to the will of other people; To be the one to change, to ‘give in’ to the things that I am not willing or wasn’t willing to put up with or to be a part of in the first place. Often times during heated discussions and arguments, I’m reminded that I’m not as flexible as I used to be. So, I find myself reflecting on those moments even after much time has passed, looking at the way I acted, the choices I’ve made, and looking for a path through the issue that might have resulted in everyone ending-up happy, or in the very least, happier. Sometimes that is and was possible, and sometimes it wasn’t. The point is, I’m a thinker. I spend a lot of time thinking about people’s feelings, thinking about how the way I acted or didn’t act might have affected their lives.. and hell, my own life too! It doesn’t even matter sometimes if the other person totally screwed up and went off on me like a 5th grader, I still reflect on it, and you still feel it long after their words are gone.
I’ve carried this weight of ‘over thinking about others’ feelings’ on my shoulders for a very long time. I’m not sure why I’ve been carrying it. I think part of it is because I want people to be happy, and I want them to have what they want to have, many times before I have what I want. Its just part of who I am. So, do I bend? Do I give up what I want so they can have what they want? Sometimes… okay, probably more than I should. Well, at least I used to. So, something must have changed at some point.
I know I wasn’t always this way, I wasn’t always as inflexible as I have become. There was a time when I was younger that I used to bend all the time, and what I found was that generally other people would walk all over me, and i would rarely get what I wanted. Even after I took a great college level writing class, and my ability to persuade people increased dramatically, I still found that many folks didn’t want to be persuaded (i.e. words were not enough, even good words and sound reasoning). Some people just want to have their way.
Looking back now, I can see that I made it a mission in my life to stand up to people like that in my own way. It was an active choice, to ‘not’ be a reed in the wind to people like this, to ‘not’ be swayed by people who would not sway, that is unless they decided to become more flexbile in their own views for the issue at hand. It didn’t always mean that straight out Mortal Kombat was necessary, but often times just reflecting back at them their own rigidness would be enough to spark the beginning of change. Sometimes, it would lead to disaster.
So, For myself, I would ponder “Is worth it to stand up for a friend when nobody else would, even if it meant some of the other folks you thought were friends would ostracize you, or standby silently, only to not call or message you as often if it all, or even ridicule you publicly for your actions, separating themselves from you.
It is. However, it doesn’t make the suffering any less painful.
This thinking reminds me of my old friend Bob Delaney. He had a girlfriend at the time whose name I now do not recall (blame: topamax/age). She claimed to be able to tell a lot about a person by simply touching them. The very first time I met her, she simply asked to and held my hands, and one of the things she told me was, “Ben, you have a good heart, a very good heart…but bare in mind, due to your compassion and feeling for others, you will endure a difficult and painful life. ”
So, Is this what she was talking about? When I stick up for folks I call friends, and everyone else hangs their heads low, and shuns me for doing it, …is this was she was talking about?
This idea is one that has kept me up at night. When I help those I care about by sticking up for them, and I see friends sit by, …acting indifferent to the suffering of others around them, what am I to do about that?. …However, ya know? it’s not really indifference. They see it…. They see the suffering! They complain about the suffering! Yet, when the time comes for action, to rise up and do something to fix the problem, they sit idley by and hang their heads low, hoping that nobody else will notice their inaction, and that someone else will fix the problem and take the crap that comes with being the one to rock the boat, and not only that, they will attempt to silence the one trying to fix the problem in hopes of claiming the right of the ‘peace-keeper’ and somehow becoming a hero.
These people act like friends, but in every reality, they are something else.
I have good friends, and for those I am very thankful.
I’m left asking myself, what needs to change in me:
-If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
(be more aware of this, e.g. trust your instincts)
-Establish friendships with individuals
-Try to keep to your age group for friendship.
(younger folks are immature just like you were)
-Don’t trust unconditionally, and give full trust more slowly.
(I tend to trust too much too soon)
Other than that, I fully intend to keep on standing up for my friends. It’s just part of who I am, for better or for worse.