Friday, December 4, 2015

Stand Up and Count the Ways

A week or so ago, I posted an amusing little meme of which Facebook is full of. It can be about just anything. How spiritual are you? Are you an honest person? What profession should you have chosen? Where should you be living? What is your "animal spirit"?

Many of these things are posted each week. And like many of my friends, I answer some of them, purely for amusement usually.

Some, so I conclude, merely rifle through your public pages in Facebook and magically discern who or what you are by what you have said in the past.

Anyway, this one was entitled "what kind of friend are you?" and it determined the answer by looking at my wall history. The results were funny to me, but apparently my response gave people pause. So much pause in fact that they said not a word.

The results of my inquiry were that I was

My response was this:

I am so NOT loyal...I'm actually a terrible best friend...I am an only child, I never learned to share...I am selfish. I am self-centered. I am me first oriented. I make small exceptions for my husband and dogs...other than that, I am a rotten friend...don't bother me unless I call you first....seriously...pretty much I am telling you the truth...

Now, first of all, what I said is essentially true. I am not necessarily proud of that, but it is true. I have no loyalty to my country certainly, finding such a thing rather odd and misbegotten as an idea in the first place. I do not mean that I will not stand up for a friend when they are unfairly maligned in my view, but the part about "always being there for? well, no that is not me.

I'm not sure why nobody commented. It may be that they were appalled at my statement and recoiled in disgust. It may be that they felt uncomfortable with my admission and figured the less said the better.

Yet I meant it as no arrogant Trump-like bit of bravado. As I said, I'm not particularly proud of this. But I am not the least ashamed of being myself in public. I despise the idea of public and private "faces" if you will.

Catholicism, or more particularly, my acquisition of faith wrought changes in my life, as one would expect. I took seriously the idea of reflective examination of conscious, which is part of the faith "routine" common to my tradition. Introspection is a valuable tool and one that as we age, hopefully we get better at. It's rather difficult to stop making the same mistakes if you aren't thoroughly grounded in why you are making them.

So, through meditation, and just plain long bouts of thinking about who, what and why I am and why I think and do as I do is a common experience for me.

 I believe that God's love is unconditional, I believe mine for myself must be as well. It is necessary to drag out and examine in detail all the dirty places as well as the clean ones. All the dark must be exposed to the light if you will, if it still will return to darkness when the light is dimmed. And as I stated above, one's dark places cannot be permanently lightened without critical examination in as ruthless a manner as possible.

First impressions, first explanations are seldom the real ones. The probe must be deep.

Some years ago, perhaps 4-5, I used to argue regularly with a fellow a bit older than I who chose to deny climate change. Our discussions sometimes deteriorated into rather unkind shouting matches. One day he posted asking if I was aware that I was not liked by a number of people on that particular page.

I laughed, and said, I was not particularly concerned about who liked me. He was dumbfounded. He couldn't understand how any "normal" person wouldn't care what others thought of them. I couldn't understand why a "normal" person wasn't well past such nonsense by his age.

Age does funny things to people. Seeing the sand running ever faster out of the hourglass causes some changes in how one lives. I have no time for stupid. I have no time for people who annoy me. I cannot any longer care what anyone thinks.

To a point. There is always a point. Rank and file, I don't give a damn what anyone thinks of my politics or my faith, or my lifestyle, or just about anything. But that doesn't mean I don't care about improving myself among those that matter!

I care what my husband thinks. And I have a list of people I know, who are so much better humans than I will ever be. Their opinions all count a lot. If any of them were to tell me, that I was not "likeable" or I was not "honest" or any other trait that I deem essential to have, I would be most distressed, and I would spend the appropriate time sifting through their opinion, and thinking carefully and deeply about the validity of their claim.

I would do this because I have done this. More times than I would like to admit.

Look, we are all human. We all make mistakes. We are all (if we believe Star Trek's The Enemy Within, [season 1, episode 5]) a composite of good and bad traits. And we need both sides of us to be complete. Which is not to say that change is wrong, or unattainable.

If I am more open with my foibles than most, account it a well-studied interior on display. I am not embarrassed nor ashamed. I am not proud either. I am who I am.

Each and every one of you is too. You may carefully hide the bad, but we know it's there. I'm not chastising you in any way, I'm merely stating the obvious. And to the degree that ANYONE is bothered, ashamed, and determined to hide from the world their awfulness, I say--DON'T. You're not worse than pretty much anybody else.

I speak out on these personal things only to let others know that they can relax too. They're normal. You are not some horrible witch because you always take the best pork chop when no one is looking. Or a slightly extra size piece of pie. Or that you hid your sister's favorite doll and never did tell her where it was when you were eleven.

Being authentic is essential to me now. It was not when I was fifteen, and probably not so when I was twenty-five. But by sixty-five, I think it's rather time to be honest with myself, and if myself, then why not the world? There is no honesty in the pretense surely of being "normal" in all respects.

I'm not a loyal friend. My friends, such as they are, especially those of long duration, know this about me. They perhaps don't condone it, nor even like it much, but they know it's me. I know why I am that way. I make efforts, small as they may be to wear off the rough edges of my failing. I perhaps should do more, but that is not the point here. But I don't utterly believe it is wrong of me to be the way I am.

We are all such grand composites of so many things. We have each of us, our quirks, and eccentricities. They are our unique assets actually, the things that set up apart. We have phobias and bizarre spiritual beliefs. Who is to say which are good or bad even?

If knowing that I am a selfish person, admittedly so, helps one person to stop beating up on themselves and accept themselves, then I have served some purpose in my public mea culpa. Surely some traits we have are destructive, and we should tame them, eradicate them if necessary, but understand them we must. In order to do this, we have to accept that they are real, and that they inform our choices and decisions.

The devil you know is better than the one you don't.

What say you? If you wish, just list all your bad points and that will surely make me feel like a pretty good person in comparison.


  1. I think you're paying too much attention to these Facebook quizzes. I think their only real purpose is to gather as much data from your account, aggregate it, and sell it off.


Speak your piece, but nicely