Fear Itself

I’ve been making a few sad realizations of late, most recently last night.  It’s actually thrown me off my game today, and I’m having trouble figuring out what to do.

So I’m currently doing next to nothing.

I just can’t focus.

I mean, I’m also hella tired and it is crazy hot outside.  Brody and I went to Pet Valu earlier and I’m not sure which of us was more over the heat by the time we got back.  He got to see some of his favourite people, though.  They make such a big deal over him there.  I love it, and naturally, he does, too.  Also, there’s no shortage of treats, and today we met a dog as big as a pony.  Bless.  Munchkin.

I have so much to do, and I thought I had a plan, but I can’t remember now, and I’m too distracted by sadness to sort it out.

Actually, no, it’s not even that.  I think rather than sadness, it’s more a tentative resignation.  I’m not sure…like, I feel like a few days ago, I had a certain confidence in my choices and the path I was following.  I don’t feel that same confidence now.  I’m not certain that it’s wrong, but I’m no longer sure that it’s right, either.  I feel like I keep making decisions now, and then second guessing myself.  THAT makes me sad – on top of some of the things I’m realizing – but the uncertainty isn’t caused by sadness.

I think it’s more likely caused by fear.

What if I’m going the wrong way, after all?

My Opinion…On Opinions

Opinions.

Everybody’s got them. Everyone is entitled to them.

Lately it feels as though more and more people are voicing them and/or sharing them on the internet, too. About everything. Even if someone doesn’t know a single fact about the subject upon which they are speaking, they are allowed – we all are allowed – to go ahead and spew forth whatever opinion we have on said matter. It’s pretty much our God-given right, and we’re going to exercise it every chance we get, dammit.

The thing is – and this is just my opinion (see what I did there?) – I’m not certain that a) any of our opinions actually matter to anyone but us, especially the uninformed ones, because b) we’re so busy screaming our opinions from the rooftops that we’re not bothering to listen to nor consider the opinion of another, but rather how to respond to them so that they’ll know they are wrong, and c) we’re basically all contributing to the rapid decline of intelligence and critical thinking in our own species.

You know…that thing that sets us apart from and above all the lowly non-human beasts of the planet.

Like, can opinions even be wrong? They can be formed upon misinformation, but can the actual opinion itself be incorrect? By definition, isn’t it really just how we feel about something based on what we believe we know about it? Wouldn’t something more concrete be more like a fact? Opinions can even change (on the rare occasion anyone bothers to inform theirs on something of a continuous basis), so can something so fluid really be considered wrong? Why are we all so eager to prove ourselves and those who agree with us to be correct in something we only feel rather than know?

If I say I feel light-headed one day, can someone else tell me that’s not how I feel? I would think that we should at least be able to agree to disagree, and yet, in most cases, the vast majority of what I see in the world – the public world – is that people can’t even do that.

I think this.”

You’re wrong, because I think this!”

We can both be right, from a certain point of view, and we can both be wrong. So sayeth Obi-Wan, kinda.

But I’m not sure opinion can be measured in a pissing contest, which is basically all we’re doing now. We’re all just peeing and then arguing about who’s pee is correct.

The funny thing is, none of our opinions even matter anymore, if they ever did. Instead of opening a discourse, all we are doing is peeing our pee, and letting others judge our pee – usually while they are also peeing and we are judging theirs – and no one is listening. I’m not listening to you, you’re not listening to me, no one else is listening to either of us.

Unless we already agree. Then we both pee and pat one another on the back for a job well done.

I was actually just thinking about this the other day. I was wondering if I should try to pass on to whoever will listen some of the things that I have learned in life thus far? Or should I focus on continued learning? Because I am fairly certain that I can not do both, at least not with any degree of success. I feel like I can focus on finding the right words to convey bits of knowledge-like gems gleaned over the past almost 44 years, or I can focus on paying attention to the world around me, and struggling to understand it better; to perhaps even understand another being’s experience with this planet, if only a tiny morsel of it.

In the latter pursuit, someone’s well-expressed opinion can help in learning a great deal, though probably the best teacher is experience – paired with mistakes – and finished off with a healthy dose of connections made in between. But it is imperative to good learning for a person to remain focused; to pay attention. To watch in silence more than speaking.

In the former quest, it’s vital to express thoughts and opinions well, and to re-frame words in different ways, in order to not only get them across, but to also confirm that you are doing so. Questions need to be asked to make sure the listener is on the same page before moving on, lest you leave them behind and with nothing to take away from the conversation at all.

Don’t be so busy talking that you forget to check in. If no one is listening at all, then you’ve failed on both counts – learning and sharing.

Neither are easy, but both are – or should be – necessary to some degree. I just feel like I personally need to focus more on one or the other for a little while. I keep thinking about trying to teach and share, but in the end, it’s my own somewhat selfish thirst for understanding that pushes me to keep watching.

And judging the rest of you. I mean, let’s be real – nobody’s perfect. At least I can admit it, though. Sometimes to my detriment, but still. I understand that I have much more to learn than I have already learned, and that even my perceived knowledge or understanding is deeply flawed, so that there is always room to grow. I am also really not good at confrontation. I find I can’t express myself very well when I am upset or passionate about whatever subject is being “discussed”. You know what, though? I don’t think the rest of you are, either. I don’t think anyone is. I’m not sure it’s even possible to have a personal, emotional stake in something and yet remain removed enough for logic and reason to overcome emotion. It’s just that most of you don’t care to give voice to your opinions so that others may come to understand them. You just think that peeing louder makes your pee more right.

And the thing is, for the most part, you don’t really know. You feel like you do, but you don’t. None of us do. But we say it, anyway, because it’s our opinion and we are entitled to it.

Maybe that’s why I prefer to just stay home with the dog and cats who live with me. I don’t have to remind myself to not read their comments.

The word ‘opinion’ looks like ‘onion’ when you type it enough.

Addendum to For Michelle Nolden Post

In conversation with a friend regarding some parts of yesterday’s post, I had a couple of thoughts to add:

It’s so freaking frustrating, isn’t it?

 Even when you’re kind of prepared, like, if the jogger hadn’t have been just a jogger, I’m not sure I would have done any better.  I just couldn’t stand not knowing what was coming for even a second longer.  I’d frozen before that night, and I have frozen since.  I’m also always am a little unsure as to whether or not I’d played a part in whatever happened.

For example, my first actual girlfriend was a huge alcoholic.  The kind that gets super drunk really fast, completely changes personalities (in her case, violent as hell), and then forgets everything (on purpose or not, I never knew for sure) by the next morning.  I never knew who was coming home at the end of the day.  She’d either make me dinner or toss me around.  One time we were screaming at each other, and I remember she asked what was wrong with ME.

 I said I didn’t know.  Totally took what little wind I’d had out of my sails.

 I used to wonder, though, if I knew what she was like when she drank, did I ever, like, push the envelope?  Did I ever say or do anything that might have brought on her rage?  And if I did, was it then my fault instead of hers?

 If it’s happening to someone else, I am so completely logical about the situation and able to react in a more protective way.  I see fault and proclaim judgement all over the place. 

When it happens to me, though, suddenly I’m not sure what’s right and wrong or deserved or not.  Things are never as clear when it’s me.

 

Ironically, another thing that happened when I was away at school is something I’ve only told one person.  That very same first girlfriend.  And she has since passed away from cancer, I hear.

I wonder if it’s a thing with women in general, where we feel less certain of our own rights or place In the world, so we don’t defend ourselves as much.  Some totally do – bitches be out there not taking any crap from anyone!  But the vast majority…I feel like we try to smooth things over and…what’s the word?  Placate?  Especially when it’s someone we know and trust, and/or someone in a position of power.  I feel like we maybe try to take too much of the responsibility, and the guys/people doing stuff aren’t taking enough. 

I guess it’s our society, really, though.  It’s much easier and often safer to just work it out ourselves, rather than try to prove wrongdoing to someone else who may or may not be sympathetic.  Most rape cases appear to put the victim on trial more than the perpetrator.  What the hell is THAT about?  How is it any kind of justice to force someone to face their attacker and, if they can’t remember stuff, or didn’t act the way they were supposed to after, use that to decide the attacker’s guilt or innocence?  The one on trial should be treated like they are the one on trial.  Not the other way around.


 

Thought vs Respect

The concept of respect is a bit of a weird one to me.

I feel like I extend it pretty much all the time, because there’s always an argument to be made for why an individual deserves my respect. Maybe they are older than I am, or have letters after their name, or have been working in the same or a related environment. Maybe they do a job I can’t possibly do, or have a skill I’ll never acquire. Maybe they are really good at a sport. Often the measure of respect is doled out in relation to my view of myself – a person has something I don’t, and therefore deserves my respect. Sometimes we’re on fairly equal footing in a particular area, and I extend them respect because I know how difficult it was for us both to get to that point. Sometimes it’s just because everybody deserves at least some measure of respect, and so I give them some of mine by default.

I just really have no idea how to earn it.

I definitely feel it should be earned, but my inner criteria for what that means is skewed somewhat. I rarely feel like I’ve earned it in a given situation, but then I have a high expectation of what “earn” and “deserve” actually mean. Oh really? You have a buddy in head office who hired you based on no experience while I’ve been here for over two years and now I’m supposed to respect you because you have “Manager” written on your nametag? All while you leave most of your duties to me, anyway, because you don’t know how to do them and don’t care to learn because you’re getting paid, regardless?

Dude, the fact that you’re WEARING a nametag suggests you haven’t really climbed the corporate ladder all that high yet. How’s aboot you extend me a little respect, too. Then we’ll get along just fine.

What was I talking about?

Ah yes. I have high expectations, but I feel like I hold myself to them, as well. Which I why I never really demand respect. I’m never all that certain that I’m deserving of it. Also, I think it would probably come out sounding really whiny and childish and look at cute little raging Sue, and thus backfire in a huge way.

We throw around words like “deserve” and “earn” and “rights” a lot, but I wonder if they’ve lost their intent a little over the years. A bit of their glimmer and shine. Like, if everyone deserves everything, then what’s the point of trying? Is an award still special if everyone wins it? Congratulations – you are the same as everyone else.

There is totally such a thing as mutual respect, of course. It need not be exclusive nor one-sided. I just feel like it IS very one-sided more often now. Either that, or I just notice it more as I get older. It seems to me, for example, that those who rush headlong into things – without planning ahead and getting all the information they need to make a decision – seem to get ahead faster. They get things done. It’s not pretty, and perhaps could have done with a little fore-thought, but they make things happen. They are doers, not thinkers. And that gets rewarded – and respected – because it gets results. Thinking does not. Or when thought does lead to results, it takes way too long.

My problem is that I think before I do. And there is not much to repect in that, because you can’t measure results on thinking.

I’m the person that thinks before she speaks (most of the time), so I always have brilliant responses well after the moment has passed. I remember in elementary school, French class in particular, I was constantly getting in trouble for not raising my hand. The teacher would ask a question, and I’d think about the answer before putting up my hand, because I wanted to be right. And I wanted to know I was right before I got called on to answer; certainly before I offered an answer of my own free will. The teacher knew I knew the answers, but had a hard time calling on me because I never put up my hand. I wasn’t being stubborn, exactly. It’s just that the class had moved on to the next question by the time I was ready to answer. Someone else had been called on already because their hand had gone up right away.

I once traced my hand onto a piece of paper, cut out the outline, and taped it to the end of a ruler, with the words “Sue’s Hand” written on it. But I never raised that, either. I was never ready in time.

I feel like that’s a theme in my life, really. Not being ready in time. How many of life’s experiences does one miss out on because they are waiting until the right time; until they are ready?

If the answer is “too many”, then is it possible to learn to put up one’s hand without having the answer ready? It feels SO RECKLESS, I must admit. I would have to decide if that’s really the kind of person I want to be.

Guess I’ll have to think about it first, and go from there.