Search This Blog

Sunday, July 14, 2019

It's Hard to Say I'm Sorry


I realized something about my dad and I think this is something that many people have problems with, including me to some extent me: Difficulty in saying I'm sorry.  By that I don't mean difficult in feeling contrite or an inability to understand when they've negatively affected or caused pain or problems for another. What I mean is difficulty in acknowledging contrition, regret or sorrow to another.

A little backstory. My dad had a difficult childhood growing up. I don't know much because he didn't talk about it. But from what I know from my dad was that his dad was a deadbeat dad and he was taken from his mom and at early age. He was shuffled around in foster until he finally found a 'permanent' foster family during the 2nd half of his childhood. He was raised by an old school, old German heritage dad. By that I mean, was very demanding, very domineering, very much into making sure a boy was toughened up.  In other words, his foster dad was not particularly nice and very sparing with approval. In any case, my dad learned at an early age not to rely on others, that he had to be a tough guy, and apparently to have an unhealthy outlet for his angst. I surmised based on a conversation I had with him near the end of his life that he was sexually abused as a child too. Anyway, my dad was domineering, prone to deal using alcohol and other outlets, and had an angry streak that all of us and especially my mom had to face. I got the sense in his later life that he regretted some of his behavior, especially where my mom was impacted. My dad would ask how my mom was doing later in his life, so clearly he still cared about her. Anyway, my dad had a hard time opening up and I think he didn't really 'know' how to say I'm sorry. Maybe it was facing up to the impact his actions, maybe it was shame? In any case, it occurred to me why he had a difficult time talking about and acknowledging where he had harmed others.

The two biggest culprits from what I see are
  • Fear of appearing/being weak or diminished.
  • Shame

Fear of appearing/being weak or diminished
  • When you are in a position of authority it can be very difficult to acknowledge harm to others for fear of your authority being undercut.
    • A person in authority is 'not supposed' to make mistakes, especially ones that hurt others.  They are supposed to be above human frailties.  Much of their authority is thought to come from their wisdom and strength, including strength of character.   To acknowledge mistakes that harm others, can be to some effectively admitting they are no better than the average person.  When their position in the family or society 'demands' that they are to be held to a higher standard, to acknowledge mistakes is to effectively to say that aren't fit for their position of authority.  So, by ignoring the need to acknowledge their mistakes (even if they are the worst kept secret)-- imagine Harvey Weinstein--they are effectively trying to artificially hold on to a level of authority.
    • The irony of it is that sometimes by admitting mistakes a person in authority can actually improve their authority.  Good leaders lead by example, both in the good and bad circumstances.   A good leader for example shows grace, shows kindness, shows toughness, but a person can be a good leader by leading the way in showing contrition to another.  Open contrition when you've harmed another can be difficult.  If you see others you look up have the strength to show contrition publicly even at the risk of their authority, it can make it easier for the average person.  After all, if my 'heroes' aren't too big to admit they are wrong, why should I be?
  • When you admit to others you have harmed that you have harmed them (and show contrition), it can change the dynamic of the relationship. 
    • The power dynamic can flip.  For example, no longer are you the safe, strong parent/friend/sibling/spouse to listen to, but someone who can cause them harm.  In other words, "why should I listen to you, you are not safe?".
    • In fact, one who acknowledges harm can be the 'jerk' who is striving to be accepted again.
    • You may have had some legitimate issues,complaints or concerns with another, but acknowledging harm to them can undercut your ability to advocate for yourself.   If you have proven to be hurtful to another, they might be like why should I care if I've harmed you?

Shame
  • If you already don't feel worthy or worthwhile, then the shame of acknowledging harm to another can be hard on an already damaged/fragile esteem. 
  • Sometimes the embarrassment or humiliation of owning up to your harm can be hard to swallow.  I believe this is especially true when you are acknowledging harm to someone you perceive as hard to gain approval of, difficult and/or unforgiving.
    • To me personally, as a child, I faced the humiliation associated with a deeply dysfunctional house.  So, I was trained early on the avoid situations that could cause me humiliation.  In some case, that included acknowledging mistakes or being hurtful.

I believe in the case of my dad, I don't think it was that he was unaware of the affect of his alcoholism and mistreatment of family members including my mom had on the family.  I don't think it was that he didn't feel regret or remorse.   I frankly don't think that he was ever equipped with the tools to effectively deal with the emotions and psychological issues that fully acknowledging mistakes he made and harm he'd done to others would have forced upon him.  I believe not only wasn't he equipped, but in some ways it was reinforced to him that showing emotions was not what a man does.

I've been hurt and I've hurt people in my life.  In some ways, I guess in varying degrees that is the story of most people's lives.  While we see on crime shows, people who appear remorseless, I believe most people feel regret, remorse or contrition at some point in their lives.  Ultimately the question is can you acknowledge "your side of the street" as they say in AA?


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Chasing the Elusive Cup

Anyone who is familiar with sports in general and hockey in particular realizes that the Stanley Cup is the possibly the hardest championship hardware in sports to win.  Literally some teams have gone decades without winning the Cup.  My team, the St. Louis Blues, just ended the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL by winning this year (2019) and it wasn't for lack of trying over the years.  Anyway, it has been a few weeks since they closed out the series and hoisted the Cup and I have been jazzed up about it since.  If I am having a bad day or just sad, I just go to clips from game 7, read one of the personal interest stories or watch a little of the parade and that's like a bit of an adrenaline shot into my arm.  The mood lifts for a bit.  So, it occurred to me, the elation of their victory and everything associated with it, IS my current drug of choice.  As I've been a huge fan of the Blues for decades, I have devoted countless fan hours, fan passion, fan intensity and in many cases fan cash into the team.  While fans love their team, let's face it, we all seek to see them win a championship.  We devote more time, energy, intensity and money into our team when they are winning.  We do it for love, but we also do it for the ultimate high of reveling in our team's championship run and victory.  For the most part, this is a healthy 'drug'.  But, it got me to thinking...  Are we chasing the elusive Cup and all it promises?  Have we got a taste of the Cup in our lives and are we seeking it at a high cost?

It's very simple from what I see...

Chasing the Cup
  • We are chasing the ultimate high, the ultimate lift, the ultimate diversion, the ultimate medication.  We are chasing a dream and all its promises.  Sometimes it lives up to the promises, but sometimes it doesn't.
  • We spend countless hours in pursuit.   With our favorite hockey team, we attend games, we listen to/watch broadcasts,  we follow the team, we read the stories, and we just generally think about how we'd love to see them win it all.   In other words, we sacrifice monetarily, timewise, emotionally and in other ways while we ride our team's journey in hopes of getting the ultimate high, the Stanley Cup.  If drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, shopping, obsessive eating or something similar is our "Stanley Cup", we will pursue our Cup usually sacrificing much (or in some cases all) in hopes of 'capturing the elusive Cup' high.  
  • The first Cup, like the first buzz for an alcoholic, like the first high for the drug addict, like their first love for a love addict, can be the ultimate high.

Trying to recapture the Cup
  • Once we've had a taste of the 'Cup' and we've receded from the high back to the stresses, the worries, and the daily grind of our lives, we wish to taste the Cup again.   We wish to live it again.  We wish to have the good feelings, the good vibes, the thrill and ecstasy of victory.  In short, we wish to replace the feelings we have with the high.
  • The Cup gave us an illusion of what it could always be IF only...   In our mind, we know we can't live the Cup.  We know there is no shortcut to happiness/contentment except living the life we are supposed to.   In other words, we can't seek the feeling of the Cup in our lives with shortcuts like drugs, alcohol, etc.   We have to accept that life is work and there are some nice points.  We have to enjoy the nice points, but we can't live in them, demand them or just seek them the wrong way.
  • We can't throw everything else aside in our pursuit of the Cup.  It is a noble goal to pursue the Cup in our daily lives, but we can't sacrifice everything else in hopes of capturing that elusive feeling, that fleeting high.  It doesn't mean we can't pursue the high points, but we've got to enjoy the journey along the way and make sure we aren't sacrificing too much in the process.   
  • It's nice to have those good feelings--the first/teenage type love, the unexpected good night playing the slots, the vacation in paradise, celebrating with a night on the town.  But we have to keep things in perspective.  Some experiences in life come only once, come rarely and/or randomly, or are costly/unhealthy to grasp for.   If we celebrate a little too hard the Stanley Cup and we feel really good in the process, we need to accept that we can't live the celebration.  If we win at the casino, we have to enjoy our good fortune and not come to expect that it will happen readily.  If we enjoy our trip to Cancun, we have to realize that is something we can't just try to seek yearly.  If we remember our first love and how good that felt then, we can't seek to duplicate it, when the responsibilities of adulthood, family and relationships become work.
    • That doesn't mean we can't have the good feelings again.
    • We just have to have perspective and the bigger picture.
    • We have to realize that some things cannot be repeated no matter how much you want to.
    • We have to realize that some good feelings, experiences will happen again, it just may not come in the time, form or certainty that is hoped for.

Now before I wrap it up, I don't want to leave with the impression that we need to kiss all happiness, good times, experiences, or certainty to the curb.  We can still go to our favorite restaurants or watch our favorite movies from time to time, for example.  We can still have the joy that the certainty of repeating pleasant experiences will bring us.   It is more an understanding that of cost...
  • Which experiences are healthy to seek repeatedly?
  • Which experiences can we 'afford' to seek repeatedly?  (cost is not always just money)
  • Will we be willing to accept when it is time to switch it up and not try to hang on for dear life to the known?

Just some thoughts.   It is good to seek the Cup and if you get your Cup, much of the time it is okay to seek it again.  But, don't be blind to everything else in pursuit of it.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"Greedy Point" and Entitlement

I was having a discussion the other day with my wife and we were talking about how deaths sometimes bring out the worst in people. Sometimes people who had little to do with the deceased while they were alive will show up and try to get 'their helping' of the spoils of the estate.  Sometimes someone who was there only at the end--and not all along--gets the lion's share  In the 'fog' of activity or distraction that follows, items that were meant for a specific survivor sometimes have a way of disappearing. But, sometimes it's not even that subtle. Often the attempted money or material grab will happen right out in the open as the dubiously entitled survivor will have convinced themselves rightly or wrongly that they should be the one to get the money and/or items in question. Obviously, when a will leaves any wiggle room on matters of the estate, the 'entitled' survivor will likely exploit it as he or she feels a right to the spoil(s) in question. However, the 'entitled' survivor doesn't always necessarily defer to the will even when the will is very clear in what I've seen. Often they will claim that the the deceased 'meant to' included him or her, or that the deceased 'was not of sound mind' when the will was made or altered. Even if he or she accepts the legality of the will, the 'entitled' survivor will find a way to try to pressure the executor and/or the recipient of of the spoil(s) in question into effectively giving up some or all of their rights. For example, say in a person's older years, a supposed friend or companion, 'befriends' or 'helps out' the deceased in his or her later years. The 'friend' may have convinced themselves that they were they are entitled to the spoils, even regardless of indications to the contrary--in writing or understood. Depending on the circumstance(s), he or she might have a legitimate point, but then again, laws aren't necessarily based on what is 'fair'. However, the person in question might be hitting what I call a 'greedy point'. In other words, their covetousness has overwhelmed them. In other words, they so want a particular part (or all) of the spoils, that they have convinced themselves somehow they are entitled. It is at that point they (may) lose:


  • Moral clarity
  • The high ground
  • The better judgment
  • Respect for the process
  • Respect for rights of others in the process
  • Respect for the intent of the deceased.

I write this as food for thought.  When you are in the process of dealing the estate of a loved one and someone in his/her sphere that you think may have hit that 'greedy point', it is best to consider for the situation at large and your own mental health, the following (regardless of what the will says or how the law comes down):
  • Was it your loved one's clear and "of sound mind" intent to leave the 'entitled' one the money or items in question?  
  • Did the person in question add benefit to your loved one's life?
  • Was the person in question's interaction with your loved one colored by the best interest of your loved one or by what he or she could or would get from them upon their passing?  Can you answer this question objectively and/or definitively?
  • If you were in the person in question, how would you feel?  In other words, check your own motives.  Perhaps, your outlook could be colored by your own feelings about that person.
  • Is the point of contention that big of a deal?  In other words, is what is being fought over that significant monetarily or sentimentally?
  • Will conceding on the given point lead to other problems?   Would it be a seen as a sign of weakness by the 'entitled' party?   Would it lead to larger problems with the family at large.
In my own life, my dad had as a benefit a government policy that paid out upon his death.   When going through his paperwork, I stumbled upon this.  Anyway, I thought it might pay out to his kids, so I called and checked on it.  I was told that it had been paid out already.  As his executor and power of attorney, I'm confident that I would have known if it had paid out to family.  It would have paid out to me or all my siblings, but as I hadn't heard anything from my siblings, I was almost positive it paid out to someone outside the family.  This person had not been with him for years and didn't have his best interests in mind.  I was upset.  It wasn't much in the scheme of things--maybe 10K.  I didn't eagerly await my dad's passing to get any 'goodies'.  That being said, I thought it was screwed up who probably ended up getting it.  So, I was bordering a 'greedy point'.   Ultimately, I had to let it go as a) being mad about it wasn't going to change it and b) my dad in a settlement with this person had conceded to letting them be the beneficiary.  But, I can see where people get all bent out of shape.  Part of me was feeling 'entitled'.  After all, I had been there for him for most of his life, helping him run the house after him and my mom divorced when I was a teen and at many points in my adulthood.

While I have centered this post on the risk of greed and entitlement with regard to a love one's estate, it can clearly spill over into other areas.

At one point in my life I was got a settlement.  I wasn't 100% sure that I was entitled to it.  Now we are talking in the hundreds, but still..  Anyway, I wasn't 100% sure on it.  In getting the point of determining if I was entitled, I felt a pull to answer questions in a way that would maximize my chances of getting it or getting the full amount.   Looking back, I probably was entitled to it, but I could feel the 'greedy point' kicking in.

I think another common 'greedy point' is with taxes.  There is a push or incentive to maximize claims of deductions.  It would be easy 'justify' claiming a deduction you aren't necessarily or sure if you are entitled to if there is a little wiggle room on the tax statute in question.  So, I like countless other taxpayers, have to check myself on it.  We have to make sure not too 'excited' when we think there may be a possibility to claim a deduction.  To ensure that I am not over-claiming, when in doubt, I do all the research I can on it until I get a definitive answer, good or bad.  The IRS may not catch all incorrect deduction claims and perhaps they'd miss out on a claim that I had convinced myself that I could take or was entitled to, but for me, it is more important to be accurate with them.  Sure I could justify in my mind doing otherwise by pointing at the inherent unfairness of the tax system.  In the end, even if I had a legitimate point, whom would end up being hurt the most?  Not the IRS and not others.  


A few parting thoughs...

  • Do not let your self-interests get in the way of your better judgment.  While your conscience can be misguided or oversensitive, it can also be a powerful tool on your behalf.   Listen to it.
  • While you need to protect your interests, don't assume someone who seems to be opposed to your interests is just being greedy or selfish or trying to screw you over.   Their POV may have SOME validity to it.  Try to learn/understand their perspective.  You may find that they have legitimate points and it is time to find a middle ground.   If not, then at least you know better what you are up against and whether it is driven by actual greed or an inaccurate perspective.
  • While sometimes you have to fight on principle for your interests and to ensure other parties know you are serious about protecting your interest, often times fights devolve into who gets the worthless trinket or something on that level.   In other words, choose your battles.

Hopefully, this post helps give food for thought for those involved in (or who will be involved in) a current or future fight over an estate, food for thought into whether their motives or pure and food for thought into other perspectives.

That's all for now.

Peace,
Rich


Saturday, June 1, 2019

The reflection across the pond: Hello from the Other Side

You know sometimes, you are just minding your own business going along with your life and you hear something which you may or may not have heard before and it hits you like a ton of bricks.   I've heard the song Hello by Adele before.  I knew it was powerful the first time I heard it. I knew she was saying something profound and there was regret imbued in it.   But, I heard it again on a calm and extended drive home from work.  There was no trying to rush into work, no trying to beat traffic, nothing hanging over my head from work or the like.  In other words, I had a pretty clear mind at that point.

So, I hear her song and it seems to be about a relationship and regret.   I've read where she indicate that was it was about being on the other side of childhood including regret about missing things from earlier in her life.   But, as I was listening to it, I realized that it really can apply to numerous circumstances or situations.  Dennis DeYoung had a falling out with Styx and he no longer is part of the group, yet I've heard him express time and time again wanting to be part of the mix with them.  He's had a good life overall so far and has had a good marriage, but there seems to be something missing.  For fans of Styx, it really is a tragedy as the band is so much more complete with him.   I can imagine current day Dennis DeYoung talking to his younger self, telling himself to back off and later his bandmates from the future expressing what he'd learned from over time.  I kind of reflected on the situation in Heartache: Wanting the one thing you can't have.

From my life, the lives of others around me and having a front row to society here is a list of those who you can say "Hello from the Other Side" to (not in any particular order)

Hello to
- Your childhood and yourself
- Your friends
- Your family of origin
- Your exes, significant other
- Your children
- Your Higher Power
- Your strangers
- Your teammates
- Your neighbors/community/society


HELLO TO:
  • Your Higher Power
    • You didn't trust your Higher Power when the opportunities was presented and obvious.
    • You didn't listen to your Higher Power when you were being 'spoken' too.
    • You didn't value your Higher Power's role in your life. 
    • You blamed your Higher Power instead of understanding that your Higher Power is not there to save you from every possible bad outcome or circumstance.
    • You treated your Higher Power as if your Higher Power's purpose was to serve you rather than to guide as deemed best.
    • You may have cared about your Higher Power, but didn't necessarily love or showed that you did.
  • Your neighbors/community/society
    • You treated them as if they were there just to serve you rather than you being a contributor.
    • You treated them as if you didn't have to follow the rules or etiquette. That is to say you thought that 'rules are for others'.
    • You didn't accept or appreciate your role in the neighborhood/community/society.
  • Your strangers
    • Kind of like society, but on a more individual level.
    • You were abusive and took advantage of others expecting you wouldn't face consequences or have to interact with them.
    • You didn't extend a hand of kindness or friendship when you could have, but instead looked out for your own needs.
  • Your teammates
    • This could apply to whatever team you are part of (band, sports, etc.)
    • You didn't take your role as part of the team seriously.  You were more interested in how your needs were or weren't being met.
    • You didn't appreciate how your teammates were looking out for you and had your back even when you didn't necessarily 'earn' or 'deserve' it.
    • You weren't there for your team the way or time needed: Especially when they needed you the most.
  • Your childhood and self.
    • You were so critical on yourself. 
    • You judged yourself against a higher standard than you were capable of.  
    • You acknowledged the barriers you faced (at least rhetorically), but your actions showed that you treated them as well you should have been able to hurdle them anyway, no matter how high they were.   You acted like you should have been able to deal with anything and everything as if you had an adult's understanding and maturity.
    • You blamed yourself for things that were beyond your control.   When you were hurt, you blamed yourself for allowing it.  You were imperfect and condemned yourself.
  • Your friends, exes and significant other
    • You took them for granted and didn't value them properly.  You expected them to always be there.  Even sometimes ignoring warning signs.
    • You expected more from them than they were capable of and got upset when they, like you, proved to be human too.
    • You didn't always hold up your end of the relationship and sometimes seemed more concerned about what you could get out of it.
    • You didn't bring them in, when you could have or should have.
  • Your family of origin
    • You weren't always the best brother, sisters, son, daughter, or other 'family' that you could have been.
    • You took others in the family for granted, because honestly, well they would always be family.  In other words, you have to accept me because I'm your family.
    • You were too worried about your own 'needs' and didn't take the time to discover, to embrace, to cherish or to even just be part of your family.
  • Your children
    • You treated them like they were a mistake
    • You treated them is if they were there to be seen only.
    • You treated them as if their needs were not serious as only 'grown up' needs matter.
    • You didn't take the time to get to know them.
    • You treated them as if they were there to reflect well on you and not as if how they felt mattered.
    • You were abusive to them and not understanding.

It can be easy to acknowledge on a surface level failures, mistakes and hurts (to you and from you), but really acknowledging your role can be difficult, especially when you aren't necessarily the only culpable party involved, you've been hurt too and life circumstances have led to distrust of others.  My dad made some mistakes as a person and a parent and found it exceedingly difficult to directly acknowledge them or to open up about himself or give background of any sort.  I know he grew up mostly in foster care, was let down by many, had super strict (possibly to the point of abusive) foster parents, probably was judged vary harshly including by himself and just found it hard to trust others.  I've had my own abuse as spoken about in #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth and in being bullied in my adolescence.  I know having to deal with that helps to make you guarded.  Unfortunately part of being guarded means that you don't always acknowledge your role out of distrust how it could be utilized against you.    

To me her song is about realizing, understanding or accepting how the role you have played in the lives of yourself and others.  It is about being willing to really acknowledge and apologize where appropriate for your role in how things have unfolded.  It is about realizing that ultimately that it shouldn't be about you past acknowledging your role.  It is a clear reflection and expression of remorse, regret and sorrow where appropriate.  Sometimes, frankly regarding the time that we are reflecting back on, we think we are doing the right thing(s) with the right motive(s).  Sometimes, you are acting with the best of intentions too.  Sometimes, in reflection, it is clear that we were wrong and that we couldn't have known.  Sometimes, in reflection, we should have known better.  Sometimes, in reflection, we can honestly say we did no better.

While much of this doesn't necessarily apply to my situation, some of it does.   To that extent, to those who I've ever played a negative role in their life (including myself), I'm sorry and I give a big Hello from the other side, realizing my role, failure or mistake.  I hope someone finds these words as meaningful as I have.

Thanks,
Rich

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Validation Circle & Cliches

Maybe I'm a little bit jaded, but I've noticed over time someone will make a post on Facebook or another social media and like clockwork, there are the same set of people which will complement the post or the poster.  In many cases, I do believe it is heartfelt and they really do think the person listed as beautiful, smart, handsome or whatever.  Similarly, they will express the item or experience being posted as nice or whatever would fit.   Similarly, I noticed when someone has passed away they are often portrayed and characterized to the surviving family/friends at their best even when let's just say their reputation in life was highly flawed.

I don't mean to imply that the compliments, words and the like are necessarily insincere, but I do believe that sometimes they are said with mixed motives.    This begs the question, "Why do we compliment on social media and in life?".

WHY WE COMPLIMENT OTHERS AND WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO THEM
  • We are sincerely moved or touch to do so.   Who or what we are complimenting or speaking highly of really does compel us to speak well of it/them.
    • We may be really are taken aback by how nice looking someone in our circle or their kid is.  
    • We may be really are taken aback by how nice someone's house, boat, car, etc. is.
    • We may be really are moved to tell someone how much their loved one meant to us.
  • We want to be polite or proper.  In other words, it is the proper thing to do, even if we aren't necessarily feeling it.
    • We may be paying our respects as we feel it is the proper thing to do.
    • We see that something is important to someone in our circle and we just understood to compliment, speak well, etc. of them is the proper or thoughtful thing to do.  Appearance or face isn't our goal, but being kind, appropriate or proper is.  
  • We want to look thoughtful or alternatively not look like a jerk for ignoring.
    • We see complimenting someone or something that is important to them is a way to appear thoughtful or to ingratiate ourselves with them.  Even if we don't necessarily feel it, it costs us little to 'look good' in the other person's eyes.   After all, who doesn't want to hear a compliment about themselves or what is important to them?
    • We might compliment them on their car, hair or dress or something like that when in reality we really don't care that much.
    • We may notice everyone else in their circle is complimenting them or what is important to them and we want to be sure that we don't look like a jerk and 'properly acknowledge'.  If we believe others or paying attention to how we respond or don't respond to them, we may feel compelled to sound 'approving' or complimentary to make sure we stay on their good side.
  • We (consciously or subconsciously) anticipate the compliment will be returned.
    • We may realize that if we ignore what is important to another, when it comes our time to get hoped for praise, it may not be forthcoming.
    • We are consciously seeking credit for 'properly acknowledging' in anticipation of one day expecting the same--proper positive acknowledgement--from someone in our circle.

The first two motives usually are considered more noble or selfless.   After all, most people welcome sincere compliments and find them uplifting.  Likewise, it is very respectful to treat others and what's important to them, even if you don't totally feel it.   Compliments won't kill you and even if you aren't specifically seeking it, a kind turn will often be returned.

The second to motives are usually considered self-serving.  Though they may not say it, people often see through insincerity, virtue-signaling, and the desire to be credited for what they say or don't say especially when it is said with less than full sincerity.

--

Now that I spent time mulling why people compliment each other let's consider for a moment why people put out themselves or what is important to them in a public setting or forum.   In other words, why do we share?

WHY DO WE SHARE?

  • We are moved by what we share.   We think what we are sharing is uplifting or will be a happy thing for all.
    • We might want to lift someone else up whom we are proud of for example.
    • We might think we are sending an important message, such as it is important to fight for what you believe in or to never give up.
  • We are seeking approval, praise, or compliments or to be thought of well.
    • Sometimes we just need a little uplift or to know someone cares.  We don't want to ask for a compliment or approval straight out and we hope by our share, we will give positive feedback.
    • We might be seeking validation too hard.

The last point kind of really comes full circle to my original idea for the post.   I believe that in life and on social media we compliment and show approval as part of what I call a "validation circle".   We give props, compliments and approval sometimes to things that we could care less about--if we were honest to ourselves we could care less about.  Sometimes we may care, but are not as impressed as the one who posts or shares.   No, we may not think there kid is as cute as they do.  We may not be too impressed with their new set of wheels.   We may not really think their significant other is all that.   However, I believe sometimes the 'validation circle' dictates that we show approval anyway.   That is to say, it is an unwritten contract that says you compliment what I share and I compliment what you share, regardless of how we actually feel about it.   But, then again, maybe in our individual groups, our clichés, our 'validation circle', we are just engaging in behavior that nations engage in: diplomacy.   I think sometimes if we read between the lines we can actually see this process in motion.

To those reading this, I'm just the messenger.   Yes, I care about everything you pose or share.  Whatever you share is the coolest, most important, most attractive, funniest, most touching thing I've ever read or seen.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Just for the record, I EXPECT, my readers to VALIDATE what I post IF they expect me to validate what they do...

-- Rich

In this song, I believe the writer/singer recognizes the truth of the transaction.  Namely, he acknowledges and validate their feelings and well he gets his own 'validation'.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The insane voice, installment 9: A negative times a negative is a positive and other profound thougths

Anyone who knows me well knows that I tend to tweet a lot.  So, I was tweeting, retweeting and liking along my merry way today and I stumbled across a tweet which caught my attention: A negative times a negative is a positive.  So, I decided to make a blog post of 'profound thoughts'. As this is my 8th installment of this particular blog (insane voice), I will list 9 of my recent deep thoughts. So, without further ado, here goes

1) When you are in a group bitch or gripe-fest, ALWAYS ALWAYS, make sure you have an even number of people.  After all a negative times a negative is a positive, but a negative times a negative times a negative is a negative.

2) If we are in a store looking at throw pillows should we toss them here, there and everywhere just to make sure they work?

3) If you follow others without tweeting, does that make you a 'tweet stalker'?

4) Is "I Choose You" sung to my wife while I am intoxicated at a karaoke bar, romantic or upsetting?

5) Is the list of what you would do for a Klondike bar a static list or is it growing all the time as more possibilities are suggested?

6) Is the list you'd give of what you would do for a Klondike bar things you actually really want to do, but need to the cover of a reward to do them.

7) With regard to the one famous song, "Yes I Think It Is About Me.  Don't I?! Don't I?!"

8)  Speaking of positives vs. negatives.  On the positive side, parents like seeing their kids do well.  On the negative side, as kids guess correctly, we secretly do like embarrassing them.

9) If like is a highway, is a family drama a multi-car pileup?

Anyway, just a little lightheartedness in a pool of life's stresses.

-- Rich

Way before the St. Louis Blues adopted Gloria (Spring 2019) as their theme song for winning, it was MINE for the insane voice.  So, I'm reclaiming it.  HA


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Anakin was an Addict: From At-Risk to Full-Blown Addict to Recovery



I spent a lot of time last Fall (2018) camping with my stepson and his den-leader mom.  So, naturally, I got to see first hand the emotions and behaviors of preteen and single digit age boys.  Each kid has their own angst, drama, concerns and/or things that make them tick.   For one kid it might be the worry about being excluded, for another it might be body image issues, for another it might be proving that he is 'macho' enough.   In any case, as with all kids and boys specifically they each have their concerns and which can get elevated to fear or anxiety.

So, as my mind is apt to wonder, I got to thinking about another young lad, in a galaxy far, far away.  His name was Anakin Skywalker.   In some ways, he was a typical young man, but in other ways not so much.   He was an at-risk young man who ultimately fell victim to his inner demons, becoming an addict.  Unfortunately, as is the case with addiction, he wasn't the only victim.  In fact, in the Star Wars world, his addiction led to an untold number of victims.

From what I see here is his progression:

At-Risk Adolescent
  • He was born into slavery.   Not only did he have to mind his mom, but ultimately, he had to mind their master.  In other words, he had little control or say.
  • When he won his freedom, with the help of Obi-Wan, he was not able to win the freedom of his mom.  Once again, little control.  He was happy to have his freedom, but he took on a greater fear too.
  • Upon winning his freedom and going with Obi-Wan, he was thrust into a galactic conflict.  As a matter of fact, once Obi-Wan crossed his path, he probably lost his ability to stay out of the conflict.  Definitely once they ran across Darth Maul, he was destined to be part of the conflict.  In other words, he lost his ability to stay neutral.  That is he lost control again.
  • When Senator Palpatine aka "The Emperor" took a strong interest in him, he was effectively, unbeknownst to others, in the sights of a predator.  Effectively, the Senator was in a position to 'groom' Anakin towards the Dark Side.  This is yet another degree of control he had unknowingly lost.

Transition or Turning Point(s)
  • He had visions of his mom's suffering.  This tormented him and helped feed his feeling of helpless.  These visions helped him from being at risk and an impending addict.
  • When he was finally in a position to address his mom's situation, he discovered that she was in trouble.  Furthermore, he eventually discovered that he was too late to help her.  Her fate had been sealed.  His fear was fully realized and his anger was engaged.  His addiction to anger and power had finally started to be engaged.   
    • While he had wished for power (control), he had accepted that he did not have it or shouldn't try to seize it.   Seeing his mom tortured and left to die at the hands of the sand people pushed him over the edge for the first time.  He engaged his anger addiction, a prelude to his addiction for power (control).
    • It wasn't just those who abused his mom that suffered as a result, but it was the innocents among them that faced his wrath.   He not only killed the warriors responsible, but he wiped out the whole village of Sand People.  It this point, he was on a collision course with his anger addiction.
  • Senator Palpatine reveals to Anakin his knowledge of The Dark Side and later that he is a Sith Lord.  He first reveals to Anankin the legend of Darth Plageuis, who supposedly could cheat death of those he cared about.  This fed right into Anakin's desire to protect Padme from dying, unlike that which he didn't with his own mom.

Full-Blown Addict
  • After Anakin informed Windu and three other members of the Jedi Council of Palpatine's true identity, they come to arrest the Senator.  Palpatine quickly dispatches the other three and engages Windu.  Windu gets the upper hand and when Anakin arrives he pleads with him to spare Palpatine.  When it is clear Windu will not.  Anakin panics striking Windu to leave him helpless and Palpatine dispenses with him.
    • Anakin's fear got the best of him.  He is afraid with Palpatine's death will come his inability to protect and save Padme.  In a moment of weakness, he 'acts out' and helps the Sith Lord.
    • Gripped by what he has done and that he effectively chosen sides he takes his place as Palpatine's apprentice, that is of a young Sith Lord loyal to his Sith Master, becoming Darth Vader.
  • Anakin is compelled then to destroy the Jedi with a contingent, including attacking the Temple and slaughtering all including the younglings.  His conversion is complete.  He not only protected the Emperor, but is doing his bidding.  He is effectively going on bender like a full-blown addict, embracing his role as Darth Vader.
  • Anakin takes his place besides the Emperor, ruling the galaxy with an iron hand and wiping out those who pose a threat.

Recovery
  • Anakin (aka Darth Vader) throughout Episodes IV to VI is forced to confront his who he has become.  He is forced to face that fact that he has turned his back on his offspring.
  • As he confronts his son Luke, he hesitates for a moment.   He still fights his son, but it is becoming increasingly clear that he is conflicted.  Even the Emperor senses that and goads him to prove his loyalty to him.
  • In the climax the Emperor gets a hold of Luke and is in the process of destroying him with his Force Lightening.  After hesitation, Dark Vader, once again become a 'good guy' again.  He takes Emperor Palpatine and tosses him to his apparent death, redeeming himself.  
  • Effectively in a moment, Anakin has began the road to recovery.
  • He died shortly thereafter, and as evidenced by his showing up as a Force Ghost, his recovery and redemption was complete.

I believe each of us has a story within us.  Few as profound as the life and time and the path of Anakin Skywalker, but nontheless,  we have our moments in time, our path.   I believe we have our times in which we are disposed to make bad choices, a turning point in which we are poised make a bad choice or two or many, a decision or push to make those bad choices and an opportunity for redemption.   For most people, the path is not that severe.  For many it is a small path.  But, for some it is a big path which encompasses our lives.

Each of us has our own inner Anakin.  Invariably we will make a bad choice or two or two dozen or so.   However, what ultimately determines who we are in not necessarily the bad choices we make, but how we choose to redeem ourselves.   Do we choose to go along the bad path or to right ourselves.  We can have others guide us along the way, but only we can make the final decision.

Just some thoughts and my 200th blog post.

- Rich