20 November 2010

On a moment past

Due to a washing machine issue, I found myself at the laundromat for the first time yesterday. Special experience, I know. After starting my loads of lights and darks, I situated myself in a chair which allowed me to keep an eye on the machines and the door simultaneously (a very important thing when I'm in a new place - especially one so foreign and mysterious). I pulled out my book, started my music, and that is when she entered.

At first, I knew only that I recognized her, but after stealing several glances, I figured out who she was. She was a member of my high school graduating class. Appearance wise, Stephanie (for that is her name) hadn't changed much. But then, she could probably have said the same thing about me. It's good to know that someone else hadn't changed her hairstyle for six years either. She also wore a baggy sweatshirt and jeans - an outfit common to any high school. These factors gave me a sense of relative certainty regarding her identity. Throughout high school we had been friendly, but not particularly close. Our school was fairly small, and because we had several friends in common, we ate at the same lunch table most of the time. But I don't have any specific memories of her. After figuring out who she was, I considered saying hello.

I came up with a fairly decent plan. I would say her name with a tinge of hesitancy, mention our common place of education and drop my name (just in case she didn't remember me, although I suspected she did), and then I would ask her how she was. Her reply would dictate how long our conversation would last, and I had the easy out of "needing to check my laundry" if I wanted an escape. I was ready to tell her about the miniature deluge that had happened the day before and the consequent need for visiting the local Suds 'n Duds.

All I needed to do was find the right timing. But she had come with someone else, so I didn't want to interrupt their conversation. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would just be incredibly awkward. I began to dread that potential uneasiness. Pretty soon, I was folding my clothes and they were heading out (all their shirts would be wrinkled by the time they got home tsk tsk tsk).

I was left to my thoughts. Where's my sense of community? Why didn't we say hello? What did she think when she saw me? And where did that other black sock go? I decided my actions (or rather my lack thereof) were pathetic, but typical. I often find myself waiting for that perfect moment and miss my chance completely. We had spent over an hour in the same space, but hadn't exchanged a single word. We could have had a nice conversation. We could have shared our lives for a moment. I might have found a new person to attend concerts with (I seem to be lacking in that department). Instead, however, I did nothing, and am left with just my thoughts and this blog post.

14 November 2010

A list of my fears

In preface, I would say I'm not a very anxious person. Certain people take that for granted. My mother, for example, takes my relatively mellow personality to mean I never worry. She's wrong, and to prove it, I made a list once. Lately, my music shuffler has been favoring the following song, so I've thought about fear too much for my blog not to reflect on those ponderings.

The Rational:

*Being wrong
*Being a burden to people
*Never becoming the person I want to be
*Being blind to a person in need
*Offending someone who won't tell me
*Getting cancer

The Not-so-Rational:

*Bugs crawling into my ears at night
*Going blind or deaf
*Street gutters (falling down one, breaking my ankle in one, a monster/big snake coming out of one)
*That everyone around me is lying to me (when they say I'm smart, funny, interesting, etc.)

I like to think it's a manageable list. 

08 November 2010

A small, but annoying problem

I write down quotations. Constantly. When I'm walking past someone who makes a ridiculous comment (like the teenager who said "I don't know what it is, but your shirt reminds me of some Asianness" to her friend in the obviously Chinese-inspired top). When I see a t-shirt I like ("Prague: Czech it out"). Or when I read the newspaper (yeah, I still do that). I have a couple notebooks and Word Docs started with my favorite quips. I find myself adding to them constantly.

Consequently, I think of them frequently. I could take just about any topic and remember something Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, or Nelson Mandela said in reference. Sometimes I fear my reliance on them to evaluate life is dangerous. Well, as dangerous as mental rabbit trails can be.

Still, I find myself drawn to them. Usually, I copy them with great (OCD-like) accuracy and include the proper attribution. Sometimes, however, I forget, or my writing is unclear, or I don't know who to give the credit to. A quick Google search will generally tell me who said it and why, so lately, I haven't cared much if I forgot to write down who said the particular piece of wisdom or wit I decided to transcribe.

I've included all that information because I found a post-it yesterday with an excellent quote:

(In case you are having trouble reading my writing it says "The problem with most people isn't that they set the bar too high and fail, but that they set the bar too low and succeed.")
I'm not sure when I wrote it (like I said, I do this frequently), although I can understand why it would have seemed important to do so. The words resonate with me. I get so caught up in meeting small, somewhat insignificant goals that I ignore the big ones. I'm good at the here and now. The long run seems insurmountable. I know I can substitute teach for a day, but I'm not sure I can get a job I really want/need. I find myself content with low standards. I like my petty triumphs too much.

But that's not what bothers me. Right now, at least, all I seem to care about is "Who said that?" I really need to know. Well, I don't need to know, but I really want to. An extensive search (via Google) has lead me nowhere. I tried to convince myself that something is true no matter who said it, but I have this unshakable desire for context.

Has anyone heard it before? I tend to think it was from a book, or a movie, or perhaps just a youtube video. Alas, I will have to be more cautious when writing these things in the future.

03 November 2010

Acceptance (the good and the bad)

I find myself going back and forth regarding society's obsession with acceptance.

One the one hand, something should be said about loving people for who they are - flaws included. So what if my friend is a tad rude before noon? Who cares if my brother doesn't remember half the things I tell him? I can smile at my mother's constant stream of unsolicited advice because I love her.

Also, our perceptions need continual improvement - it's easy to judge when we don't understand. Differences are hard to ignore and often difficult to appreciate. We are too easily trapped by what we have grown accustomed to. Too quick to favor what we've seen since childhood. I wonder what beautiful things we would see if we weren't distracted what makes them dissimilar.


Sometimes I hate when popular opinion forces me to accept everyone. Giving every personality, every lifestyle, every outlying theory automatic validity simply because it exists is foolish. People have gotten too good at justifying selfish habits, supporting ludicrous claims, and building a defense for every character flaw they have.

People have learned to thrive on acceptance, because it relieves them from feelings of guilt. We act as though guilt is an enemy to truth, when often it is the light we need to see it. I can eat all the cookies I want if the guy who loves me is willing to accept my being overweight. I suppose this point is what makes love and acceptance to very different things. We can love someone without accepting their faults. We love them by urging them to improve. Isn't that the point of relationships? We learn from one another. We grow. We change.

Acceptance dispels the need for action. It just makes us feel better. It alleviates discomfort.

Love - the kind that withholds judgment, but speaks up when it sees someone faltering - is what society needs, not acceptance.

To borrow a quotation from Junebug
God loves you just the way you are. But He loves you too much to let you stay that way.

01 November 2010

What do I post now?

After posting every day for the past month, I thought I would take today off. But then the freedom of posting whatever I wanted to was far too alluring. So, since I am no longer compelled to answer questions about myself (unless, of course, you request such a thing), I have decided to post an amazing video from yet another TED talk. I know it's long, but don't you wish all wonderful things were?

On people who are smarter than me, funnier than me, and get more exercise during conversations than me : Clifford Stoll

It also gave me a new Christmas present option for my brother who majored in Aerospace Engineering and is also much, much smarter than me. (although I think I may be funnier)