Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Conversing the Hours

Saturday, I was able to spend the entire day with a friend I don't see very often. As you can imagine, the conversation was fast and furious with many topics being put on the table, discussed and exhausted.

One of the most significant topics was one that got me put in the naughty chair. It is a chair I've grown accustomed to over the years. Being the Noam Chomsky of my social circle occasionally presents challenging interactions.

Eric and I had a conversation about a woman he is "seeing" (what a weird euphemism, but it works for the moment). He talked about ways to find out more about her, ways to discover how she really thinks and believes. What is she really like? One of the methods he proposed is Socratic questioning. That is a method of asking probing questions, peeling away layers.

I immediately balked at the method which I find intrusive. I've experienced it and was left feeling like Swiss cheese. I prefer to get to know people slowly, revealing myself as I feel safe and comfortable doing so. Probing questions are just that: probing. Think about the real meaning of that word and let it sink in.

My position is that Eric was looking to find fault. When we look to find fault, we invariably will. He was looking for some way to protect himself from possible disappointment. I also thought the things he was concerned about were a bit on the petty side. When all is said and done, someone's personal habits are not that important. Character is what matters.

Disappointment is a part of living. Trying too hard to avoid it just another way of avoiding life in general. It's the emotional Patriot Act. It is a particular type of energy that limits us in our positive experiences of others and is another way to increase our separation. He doesn't like Nelson DeMille. She likes chick flicks and I can't stand them. He leaves his towels on the bathroom floor. She always leaves the toilet seat down. He doesn't wrap leftovers the way I like them wrapped in the refrigerator. She reads too much.

I think when we get to a certain age, we realize how truly petty and insignificant most things are - and how much we've allowed our lives to become engrossed in minutiea. At the end of the day, it's just spackle. That's the crud that clogs up pipes and interferes with the free flow of energy between us.

Spackle. That is the word that got me assigned to the naughty chair. But I truly believe this. If we look for fault, we'll find it. If we look for reasons to divide ourselves further, we certainly will find them. Criticism leads to more and deeper criticism. Stream to river to lake to ocean. On and on it goes. As we do this individually, we do it with groups, with communities, nations and the world.

The older I get, the more I subscribe to the basic notion that we are all here, doing the best we can with what we have - and substance will win over form every time. I propose that all of us would be served well to simply accept others as they are, recognizing that we are all flawed to one degree or another.

This quote comes to mind: "Accept what people have to offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love."

What say you?

As an aside
, I have decided to change the name of this blog. The URL will remain the same but the name just isn't working for me anymore. I'd like to make contact with someone who would be willing to create a new banner for me and install it. Charging me a reasonable fee is okay. Please contact me or leave a comment if you know someone who can do it - or are willing to do it yourself. The new name will be "Finding My Way Home". Thanks. :)


slouching mom said...

What a PERFECT new title.

I agree with your point of view in this post. What's more -- I think something is lost by trying to find out too much about a person too soon. It's one of the great joys of life (I think) to spend time over many years exploring the many layers of a person -- and one's relationship with that person.

I guess his method sounds sort of cold and clinical to me, which is not how one should want to relate to another person, unless, of course, you are that person's therapist. Even then...

Ian Lidster said...

I like to think -- finally -- by my age -- I am doing the best I can. The flaws are still there, but I try to control them more. And, I no longer demand my loved ones be perfect. Anyway, I like your new title, and I always, always like the thoughts you express.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

"I'll have what she's having."

I agree with you completely on this. Looking for faults in others to protect ourselves from disappointment or perhaps from being obliged to treat them well is a sorry way to behave. Also, the joy of a new relationship is learning more about each other slowly, naturally, and enjoying all the steps of the journey toward togetherness.

The new title is more appropriate and expresses who you are far better. Good luck in finding your web maven.

PeterAtLarge said...

I say Amen. Or that's what I'd say if it fit better in my vocabulary field. A nice piece of wisdom, here. When I make judgments of others--especially the unfavorable ones--I usually discover after a moment's reflection, that it's myself I'm talking about, not the other person.

Anonymous said...

.....and substance will win over form every time

The end.

IME, it's all about acceptance. Every thing.
Best on your new look, whatever that is.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I lu-HUV the Alice Walker quote.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Absolutely. I'm in harmony with you here.

Mariposa said...

I echo this post with every fiber in my being! I personally look for things to appreciate...never fault!

And what a beautiful title you have there!


RKK said...

"I propose that all of us would be served well to simply accept others as they are, recognizing that we are all flawed to one degree or another".

Brava! Well said.


crazymumma said...

hm. what say I huh? 16 years into my relationship and I am still struggling to find tolerance for the person closest to me.

Anvilcloud said...

Somebody once said, "Don't sweat the small stuff." Even wrote a book that I;ve never read about it. You're right; it's the heart that matters.

jen said...

'disappointment is a part of living'

so simple and yet so so true. and yet we try so hard to avoid ever feeling it, don't we.

ps. the new name of your blog? perfect. i don't know how to do anything technical, but i love the name.

Amy Y said...

Love the new title, too. :) Wish I could help, but I'm not very computer savvy myself.

I think you gave Eric good advice. I find it interesting that even past the age of 20 somethings, people who are looking or open to the idea of finding a mate are still looking for the petty things to turn them off. Why not just embrace love and life and all it has to offer and deal with the petty things later?

Character is what's important here, as those habits and silly things don't matter in the long run (and dare I say, they can become endearing?). But a good person is likely going to remain a good person and if I had to pick someone to spend a portion of the rest of my life with, that'd be first on my list for sure!!

Dandelion seeds said...

two thoughts~

1. whatever happened to saying 'hi, I'm X. What's your name? Where do you work? I work here. Did you go to college? Where do you live?'. You know, just getting to know someone without making it such a big deal.

2. I completely agree with your assessment on disappointments. It was a big lesson for me to learn that being disappointed wasn't the end of the world-or the end of the relationship.

QT said...

WHOA - Socratic method as a way to "get to know someone" - no thanks. I agree with your opinion that this is a very intrusive way to go about this!

Love the new name of your blog!

we_be_toys said...

You got put in the naughty chair for "Spackle"? Who put you there, and why?

I agree with you about the Socratic line of questioning - getting to know someone takes time, and one has to be open to sharing attributes as well as guilty secrets, without feeling graded. Was Eric willing to be open about his flaws? Can I just say he might want to just TRY and have a good time, without it being an inquisition?

Good new name!

Fanny said...

I find myself lingering over your blog. There is some real wisdom in this post. There a few things that are definitely making me ponder. I hope your friend gets a chance to read it.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I just linked over from Tapdancing on the Edge of Reason. I'd "seen you around" and thought I would come over and say hi. "Hi!"

I really like what you have to say here. Particularly today's post. People (myself included) get so mired in the negative. Negatives about themselves and others. It's a very thoughtful purposeful person who can "Drink their milkshake"(I love that!) and not look for all the calories. I look forward to stopping by again.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely title. Chani--I so needed to read this today. I'm really struggling with the fact that I've left my job and now must fill my life with something that will keep food on the table but won't leave me feeling as wrung out as the last three years of my life have. I'm so frightened that I fear I'll dive on whatever comes my way rather than being selective about what matters most. This post helps....

Aliki2006 said...

I'm your chorus here, too. And I love the new title, I really do.

Lisa L said...

Hello - I just found your blog! I love your writing! I would hate to begin a r'ship with the weight of a Socrates style discourse hanging over our me chills just thinking about it!

Stephanie said...

I have used this exact phrase many times - we're all doing the best we can with what we have. It's the truth.

A friend is struggling in her marriage because her husband is consumed with minutia - he refuses to accept her and be happy with their life together. I am incredibly fortunate to have married someone who sees life the same way you are describing here. We are both doing the best we can, not perfectly, but to the best of our ability. In light of that, how can socks on the floor possibly matter?

Great post.

Carla said...

I think we invariably find what we are looking for. If we are looking for goodness and beauty, it'll be there, but likewise, if we look for ugliness, it raises it's ugly head. You are wise beyond your years.

Christine said...

"character is what matters." yes, you are so right!

Gillian said...

I would willingly help you make a new banner, no charge. Unless you have already done so. Email me!
And you are right. Probing leads to fault finding all the way.
I think that it is our flaws that make us loveable, our flaws can be endearing too. (Did you see Darjeeling Limited? All the characters heavily flawed yet entirely loveable.)
You get to know someone slowly, then, you learn to love the way they dribble tea down their chin.

Julie Pippert said...

The new title...lovely and wonderful! Just the very thing.

Sigh. Deconstructing people. It was a habit we self-described intelligent sophisticates had in the teen years. Since then, I've learned it's nice to let things unroll as they will, and maybe even retain some privacy and mystery. Knowing all still won't tell you everything, KWIM?

I agree: matter over art. Doing the best we can.

The thing people misunderstand, I think, is that "accepting others as they are" means we must like them. I don't think we can like everyone, accept them, be respectful? Yes.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Excellent philosophy of life! I concur!

Angela said...

I love that last quote, especially, Chani. I'm thinking on it as I feel my way through what's been going on in my life. Thanks for reminding me that I've been getting quite a few delicious milkshakes these last few months, in spite of the fact that what I wanted was far more than what I've been given. I love your perspective.

Anonymous said...

I hate being interrogated. Once I've gotten to know someone, they can ask whatver they like, but if I felt like it w desgned to peel away at me to find out who I "really" am, it would annoy the hell out of me.