I just scrapped yesterday’s post. I spent hours trying to say something and I just couldn’t seem to force the words out, or at least force them out the way I wanted them to flow. Coincidentally, the reason I tried to write yesterday’s post in the first place was pretty simple. See, I called my friend and asked her for writing ideas. I needed a little break from talking about health issues and knew she would have something thought-provoking to say.
Hilariously she responded, “Oh man. I should keep a post-it pad with me. I am always having ideas and I think, ‘hey, Beth should really write about this.’ Wait. Wait. I had one. Give me a second. Give me a second. Nope. It’s gone.” I was determined to get a nudge. With that we moved on and tried to think of more ideas. And you know what trying to think of more ideas does, don’t you? It leads you to that scary land of really deep thoughts. We talked some more anyway.
We talked about our small town, which we both agree should seriously have its own Real Housewives of Park City TV series. We talked about the industries we have both worked in and then we got really profound (or at least I thought we were profound) and talked about the state of the world around us. What we concluded is that our world seems to have drifted into this very conditional space, a space where our actions seem based on a set of qualifications and requirements we project onto ourselves and others? And within this very conditional space there seems to be a sort of disconnect between the way people really are and how they want to the world to see them (that was her lovely husband’s input, by the way). As we continued our conversation, I wondered what, if any, specific thing was the cause of all of this strings-attached living? Are we conditional because we have been hurt? Are we so protective of our own space on this planet because of the conditioned need to succeed? Is it the bad economy or are we so self-serving because we just have opportunities to achieve so much? I was searching for something to blame and never could quite put my finger on any one thing. Seriously, who am I to point a finger anyway? As we continued, I realized that even if I do not know what the cause is that this conditional way of living seems to bleed into every aspect of our lives.
Eventually and searching for a metaphor, I said something like,
“It is like once you get to the top of the mountain there is only so much space.”
To which my friend responded,
“Once there are you someone who will smile and give someone a hand and help them up,”
To which I immediately interjected, “or someone who will push the person reaching for your hand over off the cliff?”
We talked around this sensitive issue. I mean, come on, who wants to see themselves as selfish, exclusive, self-serving or just plain mean? I don’t. Eventually and probably because we had kids and life and jobs to focus on, in one lovely breath my friend summed it all up. Here is what she said,
We live in a world formed by a set of tacit rules that nobody would write down or dare say out loud because they are so awful.
“Brilliant. That is brilliant.” I told her.
Since our conversation I have been thinking, thinking a lot and asking myself, ” Do we really have this ugly set of unwritten rules and conditions we live by? And if we really do have a list of unwritten rules, I want to be and hope I am a what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, but am I?” I have been thinking so much my brain filled itself with a giant and overly analytical log jam.
After all of our talking and all of my thinking, I have tried to break it all down. I have concluded that there seem to be two (at least) aspects to a person: One is the person we like to see ourselves as and the other is the person we really are. The sting is that if this is the direction humanity is going it isn’t very pretty, you know what I mean? Of course I tried to come up with some examples of each and here they are:
How we see ourselves: I think I am open to all people and I imply that I am open and generous. I want you all to know how easy going I am because I am. I am so comfortable in my own skin. I would give you the shirt off of my back.
The unwritten rules or who they really are: I would rather have a bigger car then help you. It really does matter how you look. I do care how much web traffic you get or how many people follow you on Twitter. I feel terrible about myself and that is why I say terrible things about you, use botox, make myself throw up, starve myself, exercise for countless hours, think about drinking all day long, care about how I look and who I hang out with. I do care if you go to the gym. When you leave the room, I do talk about you. I do care how much money you have or if you fit into the right social group. If you don’t, I do not want to be around you. I will only talk to you when others are not looking. I will notice you once someone else notices you. I think you are weird because you do not drink. My kids cannot play with your kids because you do not go to church. My children are perfect. Your kids are not. . . Most importantly, my love and how I treat you is absolutely conditional.
Truth be told, I think we might be a little of both.
. . . When someone reaches for a space beside me will I smile and give them a hand, pretend I do not see them or do my best to push them off the cliff?