I’ll apologize in advance for the disjointed nature of this. It will be written over a couple of days and work will intrude. Also, my offline life is going to become busy for the next couple of months so this will probably be the last one for awhile…
Aj is correct. I try to control things. This blog is a prime example. I’ve tried by every method I am able to use words and thoughts to do that…and I’ve been spectacularly unsuccessful. I’ve gone into the darkest corners of my mind to try to understand how the Burning Times happened. I’ve looked into my own theology to see how she could be hated, not for who she is but what…and it still hasn’t changed a single person…except for me…
There’s a difficulty with having a Best Friend that is VERY smart and knows you better than you know yourself. As an aside, my wife fits both of those so I’m surrounded… Anyway, the problem is that you can’t hide from her. Give her the tiniest scrap of a thought and she’s gotten it, processed it, figured out where you’re going with it…and is ready to remove your excuses even before you’ve gotten past “you know what’s bugging me?”
(insert break for work)
A funny thing happened while I was at work. I left Aj a message asking if there was anything she had to suggest that I write in this one. I got this reply, “Maybe turn this blog into a piece about you. Your beliefs. How you changed, the parts in your daily life where that change makes a difference?” That’s odd because before I read that, the same thought was wandering through my head…She does know me better than I know myself. Have I mentioned my Best Friend is an empath and is particularly attuned to the people she loves, no matter the distance they may be apart?
I digressed so, back on track. I was raised in a middle-sized town, around 30,000 people when I was growing up. My Dad was a medium sized fish in a medium-sized pond. Mom was what would now be called a Soccer Mom. We were a nuclear family, Dad and Mom with 3 kids, I am the oldest…and the most rebellious. You know the routine, Protestant Church on Sunday, band, activities, Summer car vacation. We grew up believing that everyone was like us. Some of our friends went to a different church or were *gasp* Catholic or Jewish. A few people we knew were *cringe* Liberals. There were a few kids in school who weren’t white but, race wasn’t really an issue because we were kids and didn’t care.
*Just as an aside, if you’ve read other stuff I’ve written, you know I became a meth addict and stayed there for a very long time, that doesn’t change the beliefs I grew up with and carried into my adulthood.*
The point of all this is that by the time I reached my late 40’s I was pretty set in my ways. I KNEW what I expected people to be. I knew what I believed. I had and still do, have a fixed set of ideas about what is right and what isn’t. I knew my set of Morals was the ONLY Right way. I had wandered away from the Faith of my youth and come back to it with a vengeance. I believed in a Dogmatic, Capricious, Loving God. I knew that My God punished non-believers. I was of the view that everyone that wasn’t Christian was going to burn in Hell and the worst of those poor people were the ones that were exposed to Christians and they weren’t Christian…and I was entirely comfortable with those beliefs.
Have you ever watched the Roadrunner cartoons? Wile E. Coyote always has a foolproof plan…and it always backfires. God has a sense of humor. I’ve learned this…There I was, minding my own business and God’s sense of humor was lurking just around the corner. I never even saw it coming. He decided I was far too comfortable in my beliefs for my own good…
I’m a bit, more than that if I’m being honest, of a smart aleck. I like it. It keeps me amused. *yeah, we’ve covered this ground in other posts so, I’ll keep it brief* I smarted off about witches. A Witch told me she was one. I freaked out because she was “not like me”. I quit freaking about her being a Witch. I freaked out about her going to Hell. I came to some conclusions about that which didn’t send her to Hell. In other words, just like the cartoon, I “never even saw it coming”…
By this point, you may be thinking, “Miller, you’ve covered all of this stuff in previous posts. We know you love Aj. We know you changed your entire outlook on your faith to include her not going to Hell. Dag nabbit, Miller, you’re getting senile and repeating the same stories over and over, give us a break. Do you even know what the point you’re trying to make is or do you just like writing about Aj?” I do like writing about Aj but, that isn’t really the point…
We live in our own skin. We are the product of our upbringing and our life experiences. No one really knows their own thoughts and motivations as well as they think they do. We pretend to know ourselves but, I am not even sure if I’m motivated to put the toilette seat down because I love my wife or if it’s because I don’t like getting yelled at. I’m still not sure if I decided to reshape my worldview because of Aj or for her…or is there another plan entirely? Am I forgetting my own belief that God does everything for a reason?
I do believe that last part with all my heart. I believe that we have an illusion of “free will”. I “think” it’s more along the lines of a trip to Austin from Denton. You may take 35E or 35W or take the back roads and skip the highway entirely but, you’re still going to Austin. Sometimes, I think God is the same way. He figures out where He wants you to end up and leaves the driving to you…
Back to our story…I changed. I learned one of the hardest lessons that anyone should learn. I figured out that “different does not equal bad”. I learned, during that process that I was not seeing God’s Creations but, just images of them. I had not gotten to the point where people were actually real unless they had a direct intersection with what I thought they should be. In other words, I dehumanized the vast majority of the world. I mistook seeing a part of a person for seeing ALL of them.
You know what the oddest part is? The person I saw the least was myself. I didn’t know me in the tiniest bit. I had no clue that it wasn’t Aj that needed to change but me. I thought I was fine, a bit weird but fine anyway.
I was also a jerk. Because I didn’t see anyone outside my own tiny world as “real”, I could treat them as if they weren’t…Have you ever gone to the comments on a YouTube video or a political post on some emotional issue? Have you seen how people jump to conclusions and judge the entirety of someone’s life based on one comment or viewpoint? Did you ever wonder how that could be? Why would someone be reduced to a comment and lashed out at by a stranger? It’s really very easy. All we have to do is reduce them to “just a witch”…Once we’ve done that, they are valueless…
So, I changed. I became kinder. Not more “generous” because, within my own group, I’d give you the last food I had in the house but, kinder. I learned that people are not just one part of them but, the gestalt. The parts aren’t the whole. Try that again so “I” don’t forget. People ARE NOT just their facets. Period. Once that sank in, I learned that I am able to love people outside my family and wife. Nah, I don’t love everyone. I don’t want to or need to but, I should love some people outside of those inside my house.
That carries over into the rest of my life. I know some really great people that I would have written off because they didn’t fit my norms. I am a kinder person and that means I like ME better.
Here’s the part where I start to wind down and draw the final conclusions.
Would I suggest doing things, meaning change your life, the way I did? It depends. Why are you changing? I wanted to. I really wanted to because I realized that if I didn’t, someone would be missing from it that I wanted in it. If you read that to say, “do you suggest that we all metaphorically hug a witch? That’s your call. If she lived closer, I’d hug My Witch as often as possible because hugs are good and My Witch is My Best Friend.
Do I suggest being kinder toward people that do things differently? Yeah, every time. Period. We are ALL different. No single human is exactly a copy. Even identical twins have different life experiences. As a thought that goes along with that, because you won’t understand why someone does what they do or even how they think, ask them questions. Find out where the differences lie and try to learn them, not “about them”, just “them” as a whole person. To make something clear, I am not excusing every behavior or thought process. There are people’s actions and beliefs that make them criminals and racists. Those things are inexcusable. Period.
Is it going to be easy? Nope. Not even close to “easy” to change yourself. It is worth it, though. The endpoint isn’t really for the other person, it’s for yourself. You’ll be far less stressed. You’ll be easier on your keyboard when you’re not slamming the keys when you argue online because you’ll find yourself wanting to argue less…it’s that way for me, I dunno about you.
This post has been about what I’ve learned. It is about my own path to a spot where I am comfortable with a set of views that are vastly changed from 9 years ago. I wouldn’t trade Aj for any other person in the world to be My Best Friend. She’s far from what I would have picked, see also *whispers* she’s a Witch but, now that she’s here, I couldn’t imagine having a better one.
Has she learned anything from me? No clue. Maybe if she reads this and feels like telling me I’ll find out.
“A catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction but, is not consumed by the reaction; hence a catalyst can be recovered chemically unchanged at the end of the reaction it has been used to speed up…” Would I have changed without her? No clue, possibly. Is she apart from the reaction? No. She took part. She is part of the end result. If she were gone, if she weren’t here to keep me grounded, the result wouldn’t be the same. She will not be left out of the end result…Not while I am able to draw a breath.
I am lucky. There are two non-blood relations that I absolutely count on. They both provoke random smiles. They have both been the cause of me wanting to be a better human. The other is my wife. Change hurts…till you get used to it. Those little hurts are called “growing pains”. Understanding that they will pass and seeing the potential end result is what makes us adults. I may not be “all grown up” but, I’m far closer than I used to be…