Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don't get caught up in the wind

It's very windy here this evening. I don't like it.

There's a wind warning in effect. The weather network has advised of this in stark red lettering: Wind warning in effect. It catches your attention. You can't miss it. The winds are gusting up to 80 kph. It's disturbing, or at least, I find it so.

I don't like turbulent weather. I feel edgy and restless, uncertain and just wanting to hide away until it blows over and calm is restored once more. The window my desk faces is good sized, and through it I can see the large elm trees, whose leafy branches are being tossed to and fro in the gusts. I could close the curtains, draw the blinds, but I find myself reluctant to do so. As much as the view is disturbing, I decide I'd rather know what's going on right outside my window, than not. This is obviously a contradiction in terms, but I'm like that. While I do not relish turbulence and/or crisis, I understand that in terms of weather, it's wise to stay on top of it, not to turn your back to it, because shit happens, and I'd rather a large branch dislodged by said wicked wind not come crashing through my window and catch me unawares.

There have been sirens from emergency vehicles filling the air for the last couple of hours. I haven't a hot clue what the crises are, and really would rather not know, unless it affects me directly. But there are some people who thrive in times of crisis, who could not live without some crisis or another, whether it be natural or personal. I've known people like this, and they puzzle me inordinately. I've known people who will lament endlessly the personal crises they face, day in and day out, who complain bitterly of having to live exposed to such, but who do not make the choice to remove themselves, for their own personal peace.

Please note: I am not speaking of people in any kind of life-saving profession, or those thrill seekers who chase tornados, or what have you. I'm speaking of people whose personal lives are overrun with family crises, who have family members who simply cannot seem to avoid embroiling themselves in some kind of emotional turmoil, and who then drag others, the very ones I am referring to, into this crisis

I have known people who cannot remove themselves from these situations. Who will not remove themselves. Even though they complain endlessly, bitterly, and quite vehemently. This makes no sense to me. But to tell them this, and to suggest that they would be better off if they did remove themselves is met with, at best, resigned and tired laughter, or at worst, a scornfully phrased comment such as, You just don't understand, it's not that easy.

Well, okay, actually, yes it is. In my world, yes it is. I refuse to subject myself to the whims of someone else's crisis. Unless I can actually make a difference. And unless the person experiencing the crisis is willing to affect some kind of change so said crisis no longer occurs, or occurs less frequently. Then no, sorry, I'm not a willing participant in your crisis. I do not need the stress, the aggravation, that your crisis brings to my life, my being. You may think this incredibly selfish of me. In fact, it quite likely is. And I'm okay with that.

I may not be able to control the wind, that's tossing the tree branches about like so much tissue paper. But I can control which stresses affect me, that other people allow into their lives, that I simply will not, for the most part, allow into mine. Peace of mind is important to me. Peace overall is important to me. I actively seek this out. I do not bury my head in the sand, but I will not involve myself with anyone who lives from one crisis to the next.

It's a choice. It may not be someone else's choice. But it's mine. And it lends me peace. Which is all that matters.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Time and distance

I am constantly caught up in the art that is conversation.

Constantly caught up in the words that are said, and the words that are not said, both yearning toward all that is unsaid.

You know what I mean. When you say almost what you want to say, but don't say what you really mean to say. When given an opening, and you ache to say one thing, and you don't, and you say some other thing, that doesn't quite fit what you meant to say, and then you stutter, and pause...and the moment is lost.

She says things like, "I'm different with you," or, "I just want you here," and you ponder (momentarily) your response, before saying, acknowledging, "Yes, I know, yes, but--" because to do more would render your response less than optimal, and god forbid you should do that.

I've always been guarded with words. I've always payed close attention to the power that words wield. But I find, with her, I am less than guarded, and she often catches me off guard. She is disarmingly forward. And often catches me at moments when I am weakest. Which is more often than not.

This is unusual for me. I am usually always on top of things. I usually have my responses thought out beforehand (think of that what you will, I could care less). But she catches me off guard so often, and I am so often without a suitable response, I revert to, "Oh, um..." which is no response whatsoever.

What it comes down to is the optimal response. It may take me a few moments, but I rally, and when I gather that she requires from me more than a simple Yes or No, I am capable of supplying the response. It takes time, yet she is patient, and I am capable of supplying the emotional response that is basically wrenched from me, to give to her. Is it easy? No. Is it necessary? Yes. It is so very necessary.

Because to hear her voice, to hear the need in her voice, even when she is trying to downplay that need, is so...painful. It's painful, to hear someone speak to you of something they want, that possibly only you can provide, and you are so distant that you couldn't possibly...but all you want is to do so.

And so you soothe. And tell her you will be there soon. As soon as you can.

And that you love her. Because you do.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Building blocks

Words are powerful things.

I've come to know this. I've come to realize this simply through my continued use of them, and also, through the use that others employ of them. I pay attention to such things.

Words are like the tools you use to build a house. Some people are very careless with words, as some people are careless with their tools...they leave them laying about, or pick them up haphazardly as they think they need them, without a care to the delicacy of the tool, or the job. But if you use a tool carelessly, the intended job will likely be without finesse, without care, without attention to detail. And the job that you are attending to will be, suffice it to say, lacking in care and attention, as well. It will suffer.

The foundation that words build cannot be argued. No more than can the foundation built with tools properly used for the job at hand. It is imperative that we who wield these tools (let's inject words, since that's my premise) understand that we are, in essence, trying to build something: a relationship, since, if you think about it, all conversations are really about building relationships of some sort, whether casual or intimate, whether business minded or personal.

I speak mostly with great care (I have my moments when I lack self control), and perhaps a bit of awe. I pay attention to how I speak, and the words I use. I can say one thing, but depending on tone, the meaning and intention might be lost, unless I am careful in my inflection and word choice. It's all about wielding the tool with care. You cannot, and should not, build a house sloppily. Nor should you build a relationship based on sloppy conversation and misinterpreted/misunderstood inflections.

If you're serious about building something, make sure you have the skills. And the tools. Otherwise you are doomed to failure, and anything you are thinking of building, is doomed to fail as well.

It's a serious thing, building something. A serious thing. You should try to build it so it will last. That's the goal, isn't it? That it will last? If it's not, you might want to recheck your blueprints. And your ideals. Because building something not meant to last is a complete and utter waste of time. I have come to know this.

Then again, that may just be my opinion.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Talk to me.

Communication is an art.

It must be practiced. You must diligently practice communication for it to become a beautiful, seemingly effortless attempt to bridge the gap that exists between two disparate individuals.

If I touch you here, do you like that? If I do this for you, does it please you? Yes, that, that one thing, I want that.

Tell me, anything, or everything, whatever you feel comfortable with, whatever makes you feel comfortable. Tell me.

No one has ever asked, she says. No one ever really seemed to want to know.

And I am appalled.

How is it that people embark on relationships, and don't even care enough to ask the simplest things that might please their partners? It is a heinous thing, a criminal thing, in my mind, to involve yourself with someone, under the pretense of caring, possibly love, and not communicate your needs and wants and desires. To just go through the motions, because of some pre-conceived notion that what you want is all that matters, or that what worked with someone else will work in every instance.

A morning spent driving, and then an idea, fueled by a roadside stand selling fresh, Florida grown tomatos. Toasted tomato sandwiches for lunch? I ask. The affirmative answer is further validated by the quiet delight she takes in watching me prepare something so simple, yet something that so obviously pleases her immensely. It is a small thing, but good things, as they say, come in small packages.

There is a responsibility inherent with involving yourself with someone else. It is incumbent on everyone to take that responsibility seriously, to care enough that you pay attention, that you ask, that you communicate, because every opportunity lost, while it may seem small, inconsequential at the time, will result invariably in huge losses down the road. Those losses will be painful. Why inflict such pain, when you can simply, through discourse, learn what you need to know?

I am here. Talk to me. Tell me. I will listen. And I will pay attention. And over time, with practice, I, and you, will become better at this.

Communication is an art.

Practice it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Put your trust in me.

"You're worried," she says.

"I am?" I try not to sound surprised.

"I can hear it. In your voice. Why are you so worried?"

I swallow. Gather my thoughts. "Well, I just--"

"You trust me, yes? Trust me? This?"

I swallow again, and try to think, carefully. "Yes, I do, I do, but it means putting everything else on hold, and I've never done that before, and I--"

"Listen." She's gently insistent. "Just listen. Whatever happens, I will be here. I will be here for you. Whatever you want, whatever you want to do, if it's good for you...I'm here for you."

I don't know what to say. I'm lost for words. The silence stretches out, and then she asks, gravely, "You don't doubt me, do you?"

Immediately, I say, "No!"

"Then what?" she asks.

And I tell her, slowly, carefully, "I doubt myself. I thought I should make plans, for a future, my future. What if--"

"What if that future is not the one for you?" she breaks in.

"Oh," I say.

"Can we do this? Can we try this?"

There's a pause, and then she adds, "I know you're scared, I can hear it in your voice, but, what if--what if we tried this? Can we try this? What are you afraid of?"

And then, slowly, oh so slowly and carefully, I tell her what I have never told anyone before. Not anyone. Something so dark, and so sad and terrible, I never felt I could tell anyone.

She listens, and then she says, calmly and patiently, "I want this for us. I want this for you. Please. We can talk about this, or we can do it. Please, let's do it."

And, "Oh," I say again. And I am amazed. Because I cannot think of anything else to say. I have told her the darkest thing I have kept to myself. I am worried of offending her with my fear, my trepidation. Yet she will not dissuaded.

"It will all be as good as it was," she says.

And I believe her.

"I will support you in all you do, whatever you want to do," she says further.

And I believe that too.

"Has no one ever believed in you?" she asks.

And I can still only say, "Oh." And can say nothing further.

"You can trust me," she says. "You can trust me, and be who you are, and do what you want to do. Don't be afraid."

There is no dissuading her. And I find I don't want to. I trust her. And while I'm still afraid, and I tell her so, that I feel as if I might cry, I am at least comfortable enough to admit that, and move forward.

Moving forward is not the hard part. Trusting someone else with my future is.

But I trust her.

Because she asks me to. And because I do.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fuel for the fire

I've been thinking of fire. As an analogy. Not in terms of anything. But in terms of me, of myself.

And how others, as fuel, if you will, affect me. React with me.

I am the fire.

Some may be gasoline, causing a pyre that burns fast and furious, but dies out rather quickly, leaving only ashes in their wake.

Some may be wet or green wood, burning poorly and creating a lot of smoke, with no real substance.

Some may be kindling, twigs and leaves, that start the fire, but can't possibly sustain it, without something more substantial.

Some may just be water, that put out the fire completely.

And some, a very rare few, may be the finest seasoned wood, the kind that burns brightly, cleanly, with sharp, licking flames, and an unrivaled heat, that warms one completely no matter how you face it.

The latter, I have found, is the best fuel for my fire. I am a passionate person. My passion encompasses my entire life. It feeds my purpose, my being, all that I am. Without passion, I am nothing. I cannot conceive of a life without passion.

She is as passionate as I am. On a much less intense level. She is careful, thoughtful, less inclined to be reactive. She is the well seasoned wood that feeds my fire with a constancy and clarity I'd never thought I would find. Whether that is a raging bonfire or a well-banked hearth fire, she provides the fuel, when and where needed, that sustains me, in a way no one ever has, or has ever understood.

If I must make an analogy (and this may be one of many, I don't know), this one works for me. Fire, as an analogy, for me, for this, works just fine.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Appearances can be deceiving.

I'm once more sitting at the window at the top of the house, having a smoke.

I see, in the park, before and below me, two people sitting, and a dog standing, on the grass. The dog: a brindle mastiff of some sort, he has the mastiff features: huge head, drop ears, the promise of height and massiveness, and though he's quite tall, he's very lean and lanky, so perhaps he's young yet. The people: a girl and a guy, sitting three feet apart, yet obviously they are together, though you wouldn't know it by their body language, only by their relative closeness.

The dog stands perfectly still before the girl, his huge head lowered toward her lap. She strokes the top of his head, while looking into the distance. She lifts his ears with one hand, slides that hand back to the top of his head, then brings both hands up and runs them the length of his neck to his shoulders, leaning into the movement. The dog stands patiently for this, unmoving, solid in his comfort and expectation. There is no tail wagging, yet it's obvious he is enjoying this exchange, as if he understands this exchange. He is relaxed in his stance. Finally, she kisses the top of his head, and he seems to sag. And so does she.

She leans back, and the dog, as if released, steps to the side, to her side, then comes around and behind her. He pauses, then completes his travel by positioning himself at her back, and lowering his head to her right shoulder. She makes no move to acknowledge this.

The guy gets to his feet and walks away. And the mastiff sits, and doesn't even appear to watch, or even be aware of, his departure.

Is this devotion? Is this protectiveness? Is this complete disregard, or careful regard? I have no idea. Haven't a hot clue. I could make up a story about these three, but I choose not to. Because there likely is a story, but I am not privy to it, and that's okay.

I watch the guy walk away, see the dog not watch him do so, and see the girl not watch him do so, as well.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps they are not together. You see how easy it is to misread, misinterpret what is before you?

Assume nothing. Never, ever assume.