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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Take on Me: A take on romance and romanticism.

I recently heard A-ha's Take On Me and I've heard it on the many times before, on the radio and on TV. I've heard it in pop culture and seen it in parody. I always thought it had a nice sound and intriguing video but I never really thought too much about it until... I was driving home and the song came on my Satellite Radio and I felt a little sadness. So, what do you when a song brings out sadness? You play it over and over again of course. HA.

Well, I played it over and over and listened to the words and later watched the video and it struck me as a song of young romance where you don't overthink everything and you go all in with your heart. To me it represents where the future is open with possibilities and love and romance haven't been sidetracked with the daily grind of raising children or poisoned by cynicism or jadedness brought on by failure.  To me, it represents where you take chances and give of your heart without reservation and without overthinking it.

The young woman in the video is intensely following the young hero of the comic book adventure which shows him racing and winning a motorcycle sidecar race. Unfortunately, he had two opponents who had no good in mind for him and who are very unhappy that he won. Anyway, she's following the race closely and she then follows his celebrating the win. In the process of celebrating, he seemingly looks at her.  He then unmistakably winks at her from the pages of the comic, catching her attention. It is as if her interest and dreaminess about him and his story somehow crossed the 2D barrier and into the story. In other words, he feels her longing and he shares it and that crossed some of spiritual boundary. So, he extends his hand out of the strip inviting her in.  After the initial shock wears off, she decides to pursue what her heart wants and lets him pull her in. They court each other to music in strip with a mirror that brings their 3D nature to life. Their courtship is abruptly interrupted by the two thugs that are none too happy with him. The couple runs off together. They run into a dead end with the thugs menacing them. Like a true romantic, he opens the portal back into the 'real world' allowing her to escape while putting himself in mortal danger. The young woman had been reading the comic strip book at a booth in a restaurant but had seemingly disappeared to her server.  When her server came back and didn't see her there, she assumed the young woman had stiffed her the comic strip book in the trash in anger. But having been brought back to the 'real world', the young woman now to the shock of other patrons and her server, abruptly appeared by the trash. Embarrassed and wanting to see what became of her love interest, she rushed home and uncrumbled the comic strip book. Reading ahead, her hero appeared to lifeless after the brawl with thugs, causing her to cry.  In the boxes that follow, she sees him struggling to break out of the strip and into the 3D world. He was banging back and forth against the walls until, he stabilized as in 3D world.  He finally succeeds and she rushes to embrace him, lovingly.  Anyway, anyone who grew up with their music, knows what I speak of.

 A few themes in song and video caught my attention.
  • She is open to love and giving of herself, even when there is a risk to it.  She is open to taking chances.  He sings, "...Say after me, it's no better to be safe than sorry..."   By virtue of her following the opening he gave her, she shows this.  This shows her a romantic side.
  • Love is selfless.   The hero of the strip knew that his 3D love interest was at risk to be severely injured.  However, he helped her escape as the thugs were approaching him, putting himself at mortal risk.   To me this is a very romantic notion.
  • Love can cross what society deems is proper or realistic.  I touched upon this in another post called The heart doesn't care what is proper...  By all accounts, this couple should have never been.  They were constrained by the boundaries of real life vs. fantasy and 2D vs. 3D, but somehow, someway each was able to feel and reach across their boundaries and connect.  Griping romance stories are built on having to fight against the odds and obstacles to be able to get the one you love.
  • Love is hopeful.  The video ends with her embracing the hero when he finally is able to successfully transition into the 3D real world.   You get the sense the future is theirs for the taking.
While I was a little sad realizing that the younger carefree days of relationships have passed as kids, responsibilities and just life's difficulties can get in the way, I've come to accept that love isn't just built on living in the carefree days of youth.  Love can start there, but for it to flourish, it must go through the ups and downs and the impact of everyday life to solidify it.  You can always look back on the 'carefree days', but as I explored in Wanting to be somewhere else in our lives and the role of faith, inevitably I believe it is common that no matter where we are in our lives, we can always locate somewhere else that we'd want to be.  If you are young, you want to be older.  If you are single you want to be attached, if you are attached, you focus on the the carefree nature of being single, etc.  In other words, it's okay to think about the 'carefree days', but it's only a place to vacation.  😏

So, without further ado:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Cup Overfloweth: Spilling out all the angst.

So, it occurred to me the other day that sometime when I'm very upset or annoyed, I will think about and/or express everything that has bothered me for a while instead of just focusing on the irritant of the moment.   Anyway, so I was processing why I think that happens.  I've previously addressed why some small irritation might send someone over the edge in Heavy straws & a broken camel's back.  In that post I was really speaking about meltdowns that occur when a micro-irritation presented itself.  The micro-irritation isn't really the object of the meltdown, but instead was the straw that broke the camel's back.  In other words, it is the irritant that finally destroys a 'brave front' against the thing(s) that is/are really behind the meltdown.

I guess you could say this thought is a corollary to it.   Why is it sometimes when we finally blow up with others including creditors or dealers, that we go over a list of things that have annoyed us.  It occurred to view it this way.   Each irritant is difference fluid filling up our cup (of patience) so to speak.  

When I bought my 2011 Mazda 3, the dealership didn't go down as much on price as I wanted them to.  However, just wanting to get it over with, I accepted paying a couple hundred more than I thought I should.  Anyway, the dealership advertised it as having Satellite Radio in it, which it didn't. I figured it was just because it wasn't turned on from Sirius XM.  I didn't learn otherwise until I called Sirius and we figured it had the buttons for Sirius XM, but not the underlying receiver.  I was annoyed but was willing to figure something out with them (such as them paying for a dash-mounted receiver and service for a period of time).  Also, when negotiating with them, they indicated that another employee, who wasn't present at the time, had the second key.  I didn't care too much as I figured a) I only need one key to test drive, b) I was going to pick up the car at a later point and I'd just get it then and c) they'd been in business for a number of years, so I figured they knew what they were doing.  I found the next day when I went to pick up the car, that the second key didn't work, irritating me more, but they said they'd work with me on it.  Additionally, it had been years since I bought a used car from a dealer, so they indicated they were waiting on the updated title as it was sold to them just a few days ago.  They expected it all to be resolved by within a few days.  Suffice to say it wasn't resolved by the end of the week.  Anyway, they did eventually get the updated title for me so, I got past that irritant.  In addition, I'd never included taxes in the loan and so when they said I could cash the check or sign it over to the DOR (Dept. of Revenue), I figured they knew what they were talking about.  It was a long week and I was tired and endorsed it wrong due to their instructions.   As the temporary tag period was about to expire I finally had enough and demanded to talk to the head of the used car division.  After being told that this person and that person were in a meeting and I'd have to leave a message.  I exploded and told her in no uncertain terms that I would personally go up to the dealership and wait until the highest person in charge was available.   That got her attention and she got a hold of the head of the used car division.   So, he said this isn't normally how business is done that they got the car and the staff rushed it to the sales floor before it was ready.

Next day, with a check for taxes reprinted I went to the DOR ready to title it and found it that the emissions inspection wasn't done.  Suffice to say, I lost it again and the guy in charge said, he'd 'find the paperwork'.  Which meant, we will do the emissions inspection.  I could have called them out on their lack of candor, but since they did the emissions inspection right then and there, I dropped the thought.  They apologized profusely for the whole experience and I ultimately forgave them as I didn't want to stay mad. 

Think of each screw-up a being a small cup which contained different flavored drinks.   Each when added to the a larger cup, would mix together.  Now think of the larger cup being almost full.  If you continued to add small cupful to it, it will spill over.   It wouldn't just spill over the one last flavor, but it would spill over all the flavor that had been mixed in.  The larger cup represents the overall patience I had.  Each small cup represented a screw-up that exhausted some of my patience.  When added, just like the smaller cupfuls would disturb the contents of the larger, cup, each screw-up would irritate me a little more.  The final screw-up not only disturbed the contents of the larger cup, but it caused the larger cup to overflow.  When my patience was exhausted, just like part of each of the flavors would come spilling out, each screw-up came spilling up of mouth when I let the used car manager have it.

Maybe it's just like that for a lot of people, they can take this hit or that hit and seemingly keep their cool, but each hit really tends to pile on.  If they hadn't had a chance to properly digest the individual hits before they piled on, when their patience is finally exhausted they'd address each hit to their patience.

Anyway, just some thoughts for the day.  Hopefully this makes a little sense.  As always thanks for reading and feel free to take from the post whatever might find helpful.



Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Relational Awareness: Being Aware of Your Relationship Surroundings.

Time and time again, I've heard that one of the keys to a successful marriage is communication.   It sounds good as an open line of communication is good in any relationship--friendship, professional, parent/child, sibling etc.  However, what does that mean in practical terms?   I've thought about that from time to time as I have explored or considered ways to improve the various relationships in my life.  I never could find the words to express it however.   I finally stumbled upon a phrase which captures it for me: Relational Awareness.

What I am talking about is: how to be yourself, but also be a good partner, friend, parent, sibling, etc.   I'll start by exploring (from my perspective), what I consider the unhealthy relationship personalities.

  • Co-dependence 
    • It can look like selflessness or thoughtfulness, but in reality it may be anything but that.
    • The co-dependent may truly and actually sacrifice, but often for the wrong reason or motivation.   Often the difference is subtle.
      • The codependent may truly be sacrificing, but it is hopes of gaining approval or in some cases just keeping the peace.
      • Behaviors/actions may be guided by a desire to keep (or make) the other party happy, not because it is the best course of action.  In other words, minimizing yourself in hopes of being approved of.
  • Ambivalence
    • Expressing mixed feelings or sending mixed messages.
    • Caring about the other person, but not necessarily being fully invested.  
    • It can at times appear one partner doesn't care about the other, but in some ways it might actually be caring too much, just not always showing it do to being in a conflicted state
  • Narcissism
    • Can play out in a few ways.
      • Obvious indifference to the other.
      • Actions/behaviors undertaken are taken without regard to what is important to your partner.
      • To the extent it seems like a narcissist cares about the other, it is usually based on subtly manipulating them for advantage.  Examples can include:
        • Being the 'helpful' or 'generous' one, when the real goal is to gain allies in quest for position.
        • Offering to buy a home security system or installing security on electronic devices when the goal is to monitor or keep track of another.

I'm sure this is not a complete list, but really my larger point is this: What characterizes good communication.  When I speak of communication, I don't just mean things spoken, but things unspoken too.   Each relationship personality type, is an example of what DOESN'T lend itself towards good communication.  


It occurred to me, a couple can best succeed if they have what I call relational awareness.  Some of the characteristics I see in relational awareness.
  • Being willing to step outside yourself and be willing to see others through a filter not your own.
    • Thinking of an alcoholic as a selfish jerk who doesn't care about others, when he may be a broken man who lost his family.
    • Thinking a kid who doesn't do their homework is just lazy, when the truth is the kid is struggling and is too embarrassed to ask for help.
  • Taking into account the other's circumstances/background in how you relate to them.
    • This doesn't mean letting relating to them completely on their terms as that can diminish your own self/needs.
      • Adopting their point of view (POV) or way might in some circumstances be beneficial anyway.
      • In other circumstances, adopting their POV or way may not be beneficial, however, being respectful of it can be helpful.
    • What it means is finding a way that respects both people's needs.  Your need to be 'heard' and their need for a type of communication which is healthy for them.
    • For example, a partner who grows up in a household beset by yelling and fighting.  That partner may respond poorly to yelling and fighting.
      • You work to see if the partner can unpack what bothers them.  
      • That doesn't mean never show displeasure at the them.  Instead, you might consider different ways to get the same point across before losing your cool and/or you might consider whether the issue is really worth losing your cool.  In other words, reserve or limit your 'loud' hostility to really important 'battles'.
  • Being willing to accept that there people have a way that works best for them and respecting that instead of trying to 'fix it'.
    • That doesn't mean you never provide or show an alternative way.  It can mean putting it out there, but not insisting.
    • It means that they may not be open to an alternative way at this time and considering whether it is an important enough point or issue to conflict on.
    • Realize that sometimes people come to the same conclusion in different timing.  It may just be they need to internalize another way as their own before they embrace it.
  • Being willing to consider that people have different ways of communicating and learning to accept it in many cases and work with it in other cases.  For example...
    • Some people need to talk it out as they process.
    • Some people need to heavily process before they talk it out.
    • Some people talk out only what they consider the important things.  When the 'important things' are agreed upon, the little things will tend to fall into place better.
    • Some people like to talk out what could be deemed as less important.  The 'big picture' is made up of countless 'little pictures'.

In short, it doesn't mean just conceding to the other person, but it does mean 
  • Accepting that other points of view can and often do have legitimacy.
  • Accepting that even if your way may look better objectively, their way may be better for them or better for them at this time (in other words, it may be something that can be worked on, just not forced upon them).
  • Accepting that some battles just aren't important enough.  In other words, you can disagree without being disagreeable, especially if their intent is good.
  • Accepting that a relationship is a work in progress.  Like any journey in life, the moment you think you've arrived, you stop growing.

If communication was easy then the country would not be awash in marital counselors.   If it was easy then people would never fight.  If it was easy the divorce rate would probably not be as high.

To me this is really an extension or expansion of my prior post about 2D vs. 3D relationships.   It is important not just knowing things about the other person, but really having a sense about what makes them tick and trying to work with that knowledge.

Jut my 1/50th of a $1 for the day.