Apr 1, 2008

today I learned something:

I don't get it. And I probably never will.

I was having a run of the mill scheduling conversation with a good friend of mine and whilst discussing the details of our lives that necessitated meeting here or there, or not being able to meet or whatever. Standard. And she said something about her plans that floored me and with every bone in my body and what little instinct I seem to possess I squeleched the words 'are you fucking kidding me? you would really do that?."

And without giving away the details which are not mine to give I'll give you this:

At first I was offended. I was like, shit, my friends really insensitive and delusional and I can't believe they are like that. And as my mind was whirling it invariably reached the "golden rule" portion of our program "would she want to be treated like that?" I suddenly realized: yes. She would. She'd have no problem and in fact might prefer it and at that moment I realized I had as much context to understand her interpersonal relationship as I do to imagine being 5th wife in a fundamentalist polygamist society. Or to imagine being a fly. Or an alien.
That it would be like me completing a project in a nuclear physics class. I just lacked the understanding to do it. Drawing conclusions was an impossibility, let alone relating parts of my own life to it.

This was, well, unnerving in the extreme for a minute. Like, can I know anyone who is that foreign to me? Can I really know anyone at all?

It made me feel lonely. And then it made me feel calm.

It was, oddly, freeing.

So much of judgement in entangled with putting oneself in anothers shoes and imagining the outcome, when you are, quite simply, not them, and not in their shoes.

For example, I was once in a pet shope and there was this guy there. He was buying pet food. He was buying vegan pet food. He was giving the shop eater hell because the vegan pet food was bland and had SHE tried it. And I was like: man are you crazy? because only a crazy person would take one inapproprite context and lay it over another like that. Only a crazy person would think they could hear colors. I mean, my dog thinks excrement is DELICIOUS. How would I know how a bland vegan dog biscuit tastes to her? She is confused about why I do not want her to eat the dead things at the beach or her own throw up.
In the same vein, this man had to buy his dogs food and i understand why he'd want to put his money where his belief system was. But to presume he could understand and empathize with his dogs tastes is another thing entirely.
Like, dude, hold it out infront of her. If she goes nuts she likes it. Really. I mean, goats eat cardboard and clothing. Literally. Think about it. Proof is in the pudding.

And in the same vein for you to gage another's situation in which no one is getting hurt and decide they are fucking it ALL UP, because if it were you, it would quite actually be really fucked up, is the height of arrogance. It's even a small bit of insanity. Because if they are walking on sunshine after a fulfilling night of getting the shit beat out of them in their month masochists meeting, or playing the stocks with abandon and digging it or what the fuck ever, marrying a beautiful woman and having 2.5 kids and a 4 square. You don't know. You don't know what that means to them because you are not them. And if they seem happy and tell you how happy all this makes them, then there you go. And if they seem miserable wiht a million bucks and a house on very continent and wish they were you living in an iceshack and eating whale blubber. then they do.
What people perceive will make them happy and what does make them happy is part of what makes them them. And while humans seem to come in a limited number of models, there are certainly more in the lot then you will ever test drive. And you know, I can't even drive stick.

never mind, I digress.

I guess the point is: well, i dont get it. I don't. and i can try to enjoy people and their differences but pretending to try to understand is just gonna fuck it ALL UP. and if I can't enjoy their difference. truly. if I can't. then thats my problem. not theirs for being different. but I have no right to stick around a pretend I'm a dog and be a real bitch when they go and eat their vegan snack of even their pile of shit. it's their right to want that. even if I don't.


Mischief Maker said...

Thank you for writing this. It is very timely for me.

Frantic Puppy said...

Hello, just found your place.
You are quite right indeed. I often find myself finding what others are doing wrong while overlooking what I am not doing right. I sometimes find comfort in telling myself others are not happy, like me....who is clearly happy (exept for the income I wish I had, or the sense of adventure I once said I had, or the--insert anything here--I wish I had). You get the point.
Now, to the point, I like what you have to say. You seem to be right on the button!