Being Human

Human Being, Not Human DoingI found myself thinking over the last few days about how I’ve grown in different ways and what I need to continue growing. And, as luck would happen, a few people brought to my attention something I had written about how people categorize.

We’re all seen in different ways, and how we see ourselves evolves. How we see ourselves feeds how we are seen, how we are seen affects how we see ourselves, and so on and so forth.

tenorIf you were to ask my friends, you’d probably hear about my irreverent humor, my above average cooking (I’m no chef), or the parallels between myself and a certain Lannister of short stature.

Ask some people I deal with, and you’ll likely hear that I’m honest, straightforward and authentic. Ask others, and I have no idea what they’ll say. I have a close circle, I try to treat everyone as well as I would like to be treated and while I am critical I tend to be critical of actions instead of people. Just because someone does something dumb doesn’t mean that they are dumb.

Of course, after you tell them it’s dumb and they keep doing it…

So all of this made me think of how we classify people, how we classify ourselves, and how it may hold us back from being who we are. When I was growing up – some say I haven’t yet – the recipe was to do well in school in subjects (split up between arts, science and business), do things outside of school, and to not get caught doing things that are wrong and to be seen doing things that are right.

But isn’t it all simply about being human? Don’t we forget that somehow in all these different goals we set out? For a while, all I did was technology because it was my way out of a bad place and bad time – but then, I grew beyond that and despite the world’s culture of specialization. Why must I devote all my time and energy to one facet of my life?

That’s stupid. But I did it for a while, and it catapulted me into more than one glass ceiling. A few broke, not all, but it’s hard to remember the ones broken through – it’s easy to remember the ones that bruised us as we crashed against it.

So I’ve come to a new conclusion over the last few days; being human is about the discovery of what it takes to be whole, and being whole is a dynamic thing.

That’s my rationalization until I come up with a better one.

Reboot Stages

ReBoot SpriteIt’s happening again.

At times in life, things change so much that a re-evaluation happens – or should. I suppose for people considered normal in society, such times might be when they are getting married, or when they’re having a child. For me, it almost always  seems to have to do with supporting myself or some new knowledge that requires a re-evaluation of everything that has happened since.

References

It’s a minefield. We remember things sometimes not as they happened but as we want to remember how they happened – a fact that keeps lawyers and psychologists gainfully employed, where objectivity is as subjective as our memory. This is where objective notes can be of worth, disciplined writing that requires one to report to a piece of paper or other medium what happened in sometimes annoying detail. Writing logs in the Navy and with the Marine Corps prepared me for that, from security logs to SOAP notes in medical records.

Writing notes is important. Recently, someone griped to me about how their manager required full reports from them and, 2 days later, would ask them again. This has been happening for years, and he reported to me a conversation where the manager said, “I don’t remember 90% of what you tell me.” My thought was – think it with me, don’t say it out loud – “Write that shit down!“.

I have found in writing things down I do remember things in detail without referring to my notes; though admittedly if I write things for other people they read through a filter of their own reading comprehension if they cross the threshold of their willingness to read. You can’t document for people who don’t RTFM. Or, on the internet, follow hyperlinks or actually read the posts you share. Fair notice: I mock people who don’t do the latter 2 things openly, viciously, and with a great deal of annoyance.

So I have notes, scribbled into Moleskine notebooks, documents in manila folders, documents on computer systems (no cloud; it’s insecure, silly)… and I find myself perusing  these things and looking not at the way I wanted my life to go but how it actually went, from the sources of meals to friendships that lasted to those that did not, from ideas that are now rejected to ideas that have survived decades. I’ll gratuitously link Moleskine notebooks I use on Amazon.com because they have survived decades. 

Well written notes from other people can be awesome. Poorly written notes from other people should be printed on toilet paper and used appropriately. Must I draw it for you? 

Re-evaluation

Meditation in the Deer-ParkIf you have good notes, the hardest part is re-evaluating… everything,

Everything that happened. Everything affected. How it affected you. How it affected others. How everything was affected between then and the now. Everything.

This requires the hardest thing of all: Honest reflection. Being hard on one’s self, being realistic about results, and being able top hold multiple conflicting ideas in one’s head at the same time. It is, by no stretch, easy. It takes time, energy, time, introspection, time, questioning the introspection, time and… did I mention time?

Growing is hard, painful and has no patience for ego or dishonesty to one’s self. Being dishonest means atrophy or stasis – really one and the same – and dooming one’s self to the failures of one’s own history. Doors will remain disguised as walls, walls may be disguised as doors like a cartoon.

This part gets harder every time, I’ve found. The volume of what you have to process increases with time, and, if you have learned anything from previous re-evaluations, means a more assiduous process every time. Worse, as we get older our opinions can become more hardened and more difficult to change, making the introspection more difficult. Sure, someone out there might write a book about how it gets easier – maybe they know something I don’t – but it’s harder and harder every time for me, but more and more necessary as I grow.

Paths open, paths close, plans are experimented with… some make it through this process, some don’t. Which leads us to…

Decisions, Decisions

Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.

– Laurence J. Peter

“Whee do I want to be next? What do I want to do? What’s the next set of goals?”

Such questions were easier when I was a child, even as a teenager when I knew everything and felt the confidence people seek in politicians. More experienced, having put my hands on the stove burners of life a few times, it’s harder every time – and easier at the same time. As we grow older, we’re supposed to have more questions than answers but we’re supposed to be better at asking the right questions.

Or, at the least, we think so. In talking with people who seem to have their lives together, I’ve found that when they are honest they don’t feel that way. Life is a floor of banana peels, plans are order we try to push onto a canvas of uncertainty – misunderstood order we learn about as we grow, or we break. There are skeletons against the walls of Life, broken bones apparent – we see them in life as those that we somehow outgrew.

The rare ones we know are like us, figuring stuff out, maybe even leaning on each other. Statistically, I think that it’s fair to say that as we progress there are fewer and fewer people in these Halls of Life still navigating their way – some ahead, some off to the side.

We don’t really know what we’re doing. We just know what we’ve done and tried to learn from it – some better than others. Some have been afraid to get bruised and fall, they stand in place or even dare sit down in life as we trundle by. Some even grab our feet, drowning in their stagnation they try to hold us. The angry kick them, the strong pull away easily, the fearful slap at them and attempt to run away. Some might spend the time to convince them to get back up and face life.

Yet we must move on, and even undecided, we make our decisions with the best of intentions and hopefully with the best information and sincere re-evaluation, or as close to them as possible.

Slide.

In time, you will realized that’s all anyone is doing, no matter how far ahead or behind you think they are.

Compromised Betrayals

Nightmare of JudahSome say compromise is noble
But “not at the cost of betrayal”
Remains unsaid…
Lost to those captive in books.

The water compromises, seeking
Paths of least resistance –
Yet it never betrays itself.
To be water is to be understood.

People compromise, seeking
Paths of least resistance
And betray themselves –
To be human is to be misunderstood.

Odie

Away from Ohio,
Wearing a uniform that stinks of
Mothballs, sweat
And burned starch.
The work-shoes sparkle as
Stray light glances
Through the glass door.
Images flicker on these black screens.
Gurneys flash to one from the other as
The sounds from well-oiled wheels filter in
(The audience is listening)
The clock stops
Little hand on 2, long past 3,
A voice echoes.
“Time of Death:
2:17 a.m.”
Motion stops as the clock moves again,
And in the background, a near whisper:
‘And his dog’s name was Odie.’