So began a process of self-discovery, and the culmination of life experiences into a concrete philosophy. I drew on everything I read which seemed to fill the gaps with what I knew. I sort information and advice where-ever I could find it. I relived interesting events in my life, which I have not recounted so far. Of these, two stand out in my mind.
He Said, She Said
People are an interesting, and often frustrating creature. I often wonder if our “higher cognitive abilities” are not more a burden than a benefit. I have seen far too many times how simple misunderstandings can cause incredible rifts between two people, even when they have been the closest of friends for years. I have found myself in the middle of such “falling outs” all too often.
In one situation, I watched two very close friends go from laughing together, to walking meters apart, all within minutes. I can’t recall now how I personally came to be involved, but I had one of them tell me that the other had gotten really upset over something, and they didn’t understand why. At the time, I simply said that maybe they misunderstood what was meant, and that they should maybe try to explain things. Things was, there was reluctance (fear maybe, shame?) to approach, and so I was asked to act as go between. A little put out, I did so.
I approached the other by observing the rift between them. I was then told how the first had said something that had caused offence. I pointed out their long-standing friendship, and the possibility that they had not intended, or seen offence in what was said. They conceded the possibility, and so I suggested they approach the first and ask for clarification. There was again reluctance and a request for me to act as go-between.
Here I pointed out that I was already aware of both sides of the story, and it was not time for both to work out their differences. It wasn’t long after that they were back to their usual selves.
We can’t know, or control how another person is going to feel about certain things, and misunderstandings come from taking things too personally, and not trying to see things from another point of view. An outside perspective does present alternatives which can improve awareness and aid in a quick resolution to conflict. That outside view doesn’t always have to come from an outsider however. Having an open and questioning mind can be just as useful.
I wanna tell ya something
Some years back, I was invited out with a group of people with whom I had had a little involvement with. It was an odd night with no clear idea about what we were going to do. Coincidentally, there was a concert on and a majority of the group decided they were going to go see the show. I wasn’t that interested in the singer, or able to afford the tickets, so opted out. That in itself was an odd step for me, as I would have confirmed to the majority rule in the past.
One other felt the same as I, and we both decided to check out a few local pubs. We quickly tired of that so she and I walked the streets and began talking about various things. It was in one of the main malls of the city when we were “accosted” by a rather large, muscular gentleman, who was accompanied by a second man.
“I wanna tell you about becoming a Born Again Christian.”
Now, I have nothing against religion as matter of principle. I do take issue with its institutionalisation and abuse in the hands of certain would be authorities. I also do not approve of what I call religious enforcement, which is the aggressive “bible-bashing” method of selling religion. However, this guy, while physically intimidating, seemed genuinely eager. One quick look to my side, and I noted the second gentleman had taken to a discussion with a possibly inebriated young lad, and my lady friend looking a little concerned. I gave her a little wink.
“All right.” I said, and we sat to a quick dissertation of this man’s transgressions, and how finding God and Religion transformed and saved him. It was a good sell, but something I had heard many times before, and regardless of what you selling, hearing the same pitch can become rather boring.
When he finished, I said “Thank you. Now, I have done you the courtesy of listening to you, would you do the same for me?”
After a beat, he agreed, and I began, without any clear idea of what I was going to say, speaking of a philosophical take on my experiences and religious understandings. It was odd to hear my voice as I began to hear what I was saying independently. I had intended to speak nonsense, and confuse the guy, but what I was saying actually made a lot of sense.
When I had finished, I asked him what he thought. He was, apparently, incapable of a reply, and instead got up, went to his friend, then they shambled off together. The young lady with me was staring rather intently at me. We ended up talking for another hour or two about our own beliefs, and it was one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had.
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