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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Poem 2: The Basis of a Butterfly

The Basis of a Butterfly

I once was a caterpillar.
I was a self-conscience, scared caterpillar.

The world around me was unsafe and insecure.
My movements were slow, unsteady and unsure.

My path was not always clear
But I had to keep moving forward despite the fear

Over time I developed a cocoon, an outer shell.
It was necessary and it served me well.

It kept me safe, it kept protected
But sometimes it felt like a barrier that I'd erected.

But over time, my cocoon felt like it bound me
No matter how much I wanted to flee.

Over time, I struggled to find my way
I pressed forward though at times I wanted to stay.

I gradually formed a hole
Out of which one day I would roll

Some thought I was broke
But they really hadn't taken a look

Inside the busted shell was a precious soul
Who had over time become whole

Who was finally ready to fly
This my friends is the basis of butterfly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Denial, part 2: How we view and face problems

With a contentious election fast approaching, there is no denying that we are a country with problems.  Either way we vote, that is/will be true.  Anyway, I was talking with a friend today about how we deal with problems as a society.

It occurred to me as a society we have a number of different ways we deal with major issues.  There are:

  • Those who want to be part of the solution
    • Those who see the problem and feel compelled to face it head on. 
      •  For example, as a resident of the region around Ferguson, for me, this could be someone who sees the distrust between law enforcement and the minority community and instead of dismissing one side, listen to concerns of all sides.  That doesn't mean necessarily seeing equal culpability, but means respectfully treating the concerns of those who legitimately want peace.
  • Those who are fine with the problem.
    • Those who know they are part of problem and don't care as it benefits them.
      • In the Jim Crow era, many people benefited from keeping keeping discriminatory laws in place for various reasons such as keeping political power or of fear of competition (such as in sports).
    • Those who don't don't see themselves as being part of the problem, but are.
      • They often justify their own behavior as legitimate even , therefore not problematic.  For example, self-promoters who justify jumping into a conflict/controversy claiming to want to help this person or this group when their hidden motive is profit/power--with an end result of inflaming the situation.
  • Those who see the problem, but want to push them aside.
    • Those who see the cost of dealing with the problem as "too expensive".
      • Either the problem seems too intractable and therefore too stressful, so just like a car with curious annoying noise, it is easier to turn up the music and pretend the problem doesn't exist.
      • Personally or as a society dealing with certain issues, means giving up something such as time, money or comfort.
  • Those who see the problem, but convince themselves the problem is minimal or has an easy solution.
    • For them, it is easier to live with not concerning themselves with the size or complexity of problem than it is to actually face a problem.
      • For example, our national budget.  Some people believe if we just raise taxes on the 'rich' enough that we will be able to pay for programs.  
      • Also, racial issues.  We know that there are underlying problems, but is we don't have to live the issues daily, it is easier to convince ourselves that the problem is limited to 'this' or 'that' area.

My friend mentioned another way or category of people and how they deal with problems, which I though was insightful.
  • Those who blame the messenger, ignoring the message.
    • Politicians are famous for this.  They are confronted with a message that is not necessarily favorable to them and they turn around and attack the messenger's credibility.  Their hope is to distract from having to answer the message.  
      • For example, a whistle-blower who publicizes a secret program of questionable constitutionality is often attacked by those are tied to the program.


I'm not sure what my takeaway from this blog is except this.  
  1. It is best to face problems completely head-on if at all possible.  
  2. When you can't face it completely, face it in steps and where necessary let it be known that's what you are doing.
  3. Sometimes it is necessary to push aside facing problems to deal with larger problems that arise.  But, that doesn't mean permanently facing dealing with the original problem.

Just my musings for the day.

-- Rich

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Thought Solitude: Isolation or a "Safe Space"

I've noticed in my life that some people are so outgoing that they describe their life verbatim on Facebook or to anyone they run into.  Others, it is like pulling teeth to draw them out of their cocoon. I think most people fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum: Out times outgoing, at other times reserved and at other downright introverted.  This leads me the saying above.

No one can live in the spotlight 24/7/365.  We all need downtime.  We all need time outside the public sphere where we can let our guard down and be ourselves.  Typically, we find some of this time around our family and friends.  They are familiar with us as we are familiar with them.  If they are good for us, we can be our goofy selves around them and reveal private thoughts we wouldn't share with the public at large.  In a way, they can be a testing ground for our idea.  If we throw something by them and they give it a thumbs down, it often means that what is on our mind isn't ready for public consumption.  If they give us roaring approval of our thoughts, well, that can give us confidence to take our thoughts public.  In any case, even among our family and friends we don't always want to immediately if ever want to share certain thoughts as they could be a bit disturbing, a bit too "ate up" or just not fully formed.  In this way, our secret life aka secret thoughts have a 'safe space' to reside in while we contemplate whether to reveal them.   The $64,000 question is this: when we are keeping thoughts to ourselves is it healthy?  In short, are we isolating or retreating into an internal 'safe space'?

I guess it really depends in some ways on the content of the (secret) thoughts in question and/or the volume of thoughts.  For example:

  • If we keep most every thought to ourselves, especially if we never reveal them, that would seem to indicate that we are isolating.
  • If our (secret) thoughts are dark (too blue or too disturbing), then we are probably isolating.
  • If we are hiding most of our thoughts, worried about how we are going to come across, we are likely isolating.
  • If we don't feel like we have anyone we feel that we can talk to and therefore keep our thoughts to ourselves, that may be isolating.  
On the other hand:
  • If we had the loss of someone close in our circle (family/friends/coworkers), it may take some time to process our thoughts and therefore, we need a 'safe space' in our mind to process them before we know how to express them.
  • If we have a random devious or rude thought from time to time, having a space where we can internally process it is helpful as it can be harmful/hurtful  to stream of conscience speak, at least until we can determine whether it is just a little off or very inappropriate.
  • We are busy and haven't had time to unpack our thoughts, keeping our thoughts to ourselves--a thought safe space--can be useful until we have time to process them.
Ultimately, I believe if we take time to get to know someone or ourselves, we typically know whether we are isolating or whether we are just using the 'safe space' of our mind to process our thoughts.  Ironically when we isolate from others, it makes it harder to tell if their quietness is due to safely processing there own thoughts or if they are isolating themselves as well.

I guess the takeaway is this.  If you love and care about someone, take time to know them, but just as importantly makes sure you provide the best ear you can for them.  This is even more true when the someone you are talking about is yourself.

Just my thoughts for the day.  Cheerio 

-- Rich 

One final thought, if we have been shut down, ridiculed or abused by a significant person in our life--spouse, older sibling, parent--- especially early in our life, it can cause us to isolate.  That is to say, the important things in our life we won't discuss as we have been taught it is not safe to.  In this situation, our trust of that person and possibly others will likely have been shaken.  In a sense, by keeping our thoughts to ourselves, we are retreating to a 'safe space' to protect ourselves, but in another sense, we are isolating--with cause.

Unfortunately, I've seen this in my own life before and that of others.  When a loved one doesn't allow you to be yourself and say the things that are on your mind free of consequence, they are setting the relationship up to fail.  Your thoughts won't disappear, they will just be driven underground and resentment can build up. Anyway, this lead can lead a person to search for others to themselves around--sometimes in a healthy way--friend/minister/counselor--and sometimes not so healthy way--partner outside the marriage, someone who doesn't have the family's interest in mind.

The long and short of it is this: the best way to keep a relationship open is to allow the other to be themselves as much as possible even when you don't agree with them.  The best way to destroy a relationship is to shut the other down is to tend to come down on the other when they are being themselves.

Just more thoughts.

-- Rich