RANDOM OBSERVATIONS I: Random, raw observations and thoughts from the depths of my brain.
I know people get tired of me talking about feeling productive and getting things done, but I’ve discovered I have trouble relaxing enough to get to sleep unless I feel like I’ve accomplished something for myself sometime during the day. I almost always accomplish a great deal at work (though not always the things I want to work on) – it’s my own stuff I tend to fall behind on.
I wonder how much of my grumpiness & discontent relates back to not taking care of my little world and all the things that I can do to make it a better place for me and mine to inhabit (or visit)?
I wonder how much less stressed I would be if I didn’t feel like I had a giant rock waiting to fall on my head because I’ve neglected to take care of myself – and to tend to the ordering and maintaining of my space and my life?
And I wonder how much of the chaos surrounding me is because I cannot say no to people and yes to myself?
I’ve heard the stories. In the workplace of fifty years ago, if a guy forgot to shave or looked scruffy or acted an ass, another guy – usually another man – would take him aside and tell him so. I think we’ve lost something in that people don’t do that anymore. I think we’ve lost a level of honesty between people and we’ve lost a level of willingness to strive to be the best we can be and to want someone to tell us when we could be better and even how we could be better.
We’re all so afraid of criticism and so afraid to be told we’re not perfect, we’re falling short of our potential and we’re able to be more.
We’re taught to see ulterior and malicious motives in every word given that isn’t positive endorsement or unflagging cheerful support. We’re taught to be afraid to tell the truth because we don’t want to be known as an ass.
We’re taught not to want to be a truth-teller. (And yes, Jason, I see the logical direction of that statement and will take it in that direction another time. This is the wrong blog for that.) We’re taught to be afraid of things told to us because they might the truth and we’re so afraid to fail that we often don’t even try.
Boldness of speech or of action is characterized as foolish or ambitious and the only ambition we praise is the kind that gets you on the cover of magazines for money, beauty or power.
We’re taught that success is equated to money and to appearance and that if you lack one or both, you are automatically a failure. If you wear the wrong clothes or offend the wrong person or don’t get in the right clique. If you don’t do something so amazing other people have to sit up and notice and applaud.
We’re taught that the only criticism and advice to take is your own or the kind found in a self-help book that gets liked on Facebook and has enough Amazon reviews. We’re taught that the right way to change is to sit in the dark and confront your fears and your failings and your misery alone – without ‘inflicting’ it on other people.
We’re taught no one can help us change; no one can help us achieve; no one can help us become more – that we must do it all alone, struggling every day, sacrificing everything of meaning or value along the way and that the empty rewards of success will be enough, because there is always more to be earned or gleaned.
We’re taught we are not allowed to cry in public; we are only allowed to cry in the corner of the room, in the shadows where no one can see us hurt – because it might make them uncomfortable. We’re taught that the only tears we can have are those no one ever sees. To be human and to be frail and to be vulnerable is to be weak and therefore to be fought against – because if you are weak, you have failed. You become nothing but another number, another statistic in a poll no one really understands.
We’re taught that pain is to be a secret and not shared.
I don’t think this is okay.
I want someone to tell me when I am falling short. I want someone to tell me when I can do better. I want someone to tell me when I’m scruffy and don’t look my best (which isn’t much, admittedly, but you have to work with what you’re given.)
I want to be told the truth. And I want to be allowed to tell the truth. I want to face my fears in the daylight with my friends and my brothers beside me. I want to be allowed to be human and be weak. I want my accomplishments to matter – even when they mean nothing for money or beauty or power. I want to be heard when I need to speak and I don’t want to be afraid to hurt and be afraid to fail.
And I don’t want to do it alone, just because our society is afraid of things that hurt. Or might hurt.
I want to tell the truth. I want to help someone else do more and be better. I want other to trust me to tell them when they look scruffy or have food on their face. I want to be strong enough to not be frightened – or scornful – of what might look like weakness. I want to remember and laud the accomplishments of others, because they matter – even when they don’t bring about money or beauty or fame. I want to listen when someone else needs to be heard and I want the people around me to know if they hurt or if they fail, then I am still here while they heal or they try again.
I want the people around me to know they are not doing it alone.
Somehow, I think that these desires might be some of the hardest, most frightening things I have ever set out to do.
Pride is a terrible word most of the time. It implies vanity and arrogance and scorn of others. It implies so many bad things…but pride is at the center of satisfacation (at least, in the workplace.)
To me, it is at the heart of what we call ‘work ethic.’ Because I have pride in my work – whether it’s cleaning out the cat boxes or sweeping the pool deck or making copies of legal briefs or answering the phones or pricing product or coding webpages, my pride in myself won’t let me do less than my absolute best.
If I do, I feel the acute sting of personal failure.
I want to be proud of what I do. I want to brag about being the best sweeper or cleaning the cat boxes the best or having elegant code or making perfect copies. I want every detail to be right, every line straight and not a speck of dirt or shit left to mar the task I have undertaken.
Even if only I see it.
I don’t know why, but a lot of people I know don’t have this pride. They don’t mind things they do not being done to the best of their ability. They are content with just being done and moving on to the next thing and the next thing until they get to a thing they enjoy.
They cannot find contentment and satisfaction in the doing – and the doing well. They cannot find pleasure in knowing they have accomplished a thing so well that they can say to anyone: “Yeah, I did that. That was me.”
It scares me, sometime, that lack of pride. I wonder if it is that lack of pride, that causes so many of the problems around me. That being indifferent to the quality of what you do and only wanting the quantitative payment of having done it and recieved a paycheck.
I wonder if the dissatisfaction so many have with their ‘tedious’ jobs or their ‘dead-end’ positions comes from a profound indifference to how they accomplish a thing.
I’ve also noticed that the more indifferent a person is to how they do things, the more threatened they are by those who have pride in what they do. They mock, deride and sabotage (not on purpose, usually) and try to bestow their sense of indifference, the liberation of no longer giving a damn about the quality of what you do.
It must be liberating. It must be amazing, to just not care when a thing is done poorly or to know that it could have been far better than it was – and yet be okay with that.
It must be a thrilling experience.
But I’m afraid of that thrill; I’m not ready to be liberated. I’m proud to have pride and somewhat worried that someday, I will forget my pride and just give in to the idea that it’s okay to not do your best on everything…because the people around you won’t care, either.