09 June 2006

After Poem Wind-Down, in Prose

Funny how sometimes when you think you know just the right person to cheer you up or help you out, the universe sends the exactly wrong person. But today, he ended up being the right person because he made me realize all that I am not. I am not hopeless, clueless, or alone. That I do have skills, that I could be likeable, that there is hope for joy.

And I know the answer to my poem is in What the Thunder Said. But how does one get there from the Wasteland? (Sorry for the literary reference, but if you haven't read it, you should. And then you should talk about it with someone who has, or it won't mean anything.) My life is so centered on being lost, different, and alone that it's difficult to see the pathway to being part of something. I seem to have an idea of the bridge, in which I'm sure Christ is involved, but the path is still hazy to me.

Perhaps this all comes about from reading the Screwtape Letters. Or it's another factor anyway. I know, I should hardly dare to put CS Lewis on my interests list if I haven't read it before, but there's a first time for anything. But that part about keeping our beliefs in the theoretical, thinking it is enough to simply think about action, and allowing that to lead us to complacency, that hit to my core. That's me--living in the world of my ideals.

A sign on a professor's door in the Benson building reads:

Theoretically, there's no difference between theory and practice.
Practically, there is.
And that sums up my problem: I know a lot about people and relationships theoretically, but practically is another matter. I am not good at risking myself, trying, caring, being there. And I feel I should be, despite the fact that I have never done so. As a child, I never played games until I was sure I could win (which probably explains my aversion to sports). That continues to today. I have never actually played Risk, but I have watched it so many times. Video games, same deal: I've seen them all, played none. Never played DDR, but I like the idea of it. Ultimate Frisbee, definitely not at all. And relationships, where it's not a game, are much worse. How can I possibly learn how to win before I start?

In order for me to ever find what I seek, I must be willing to "take chances, make mistakes, and get messy." But I am not. I need to find a way to be able to. I could try locking myself off, but clearly that's not something I would do. I try to keep my self at the surface, but as a result I have to be very cautious or I can break. Do break, actually, but we try to keep the damage down.

3 comments:

Not Too Pensive said...

As a male, I am bound to simply give advice in situations such as these...

Your last paragraph states:

"In order for me to ever find what I seek, I must be willing to "take chances, make mistakes, and get messy." But I am not. I need to find a way to be able to. I could try locking myself off, but clearly that's not something I would do. I try to keep my self at the surface, but as a result I have to be very cautious or I can break. Do break, actually, but we try to keep the damage down."

While your post deals mostly with relationship issues, I suppose it also deals with "not trying something until I'm perfect at it" type issues as well.

Might I make a suggestion? Learn a foreign language. Sure, it may sound kind of stupid, but it's a skill that requires you to "get dirty" and "make mistakes" and eventually get used to it, as it's part of just getting along. It could be as simple and functional as Spanish or something more exotic, but it did help me get past my own personal feelings of embarassment at times. To be honest, I feel more comfortable when speaking in a foreign language - I can step out of my culture for a moment, and when I use slightly flowerly language or a joke it's 10 times as funnier because a non-native said it.

Give it a shot. It's also a great way to meet people... and spend lots of time with them... which isn't my reason for doing it (I'm married, hooray!), but I've made a lot of good friends that way.

Liz Muir said...

Ironically, my attempt to learn a language simply further confirmed my perfectionistic ways instead of thwarting them. I had five years of Spanish in high school, but still don't speak it. At one point, I could read and write in it very well, and sometimes understand, but speaking just never happened for me. Then, once I passed the AP test, I promptly forgot everything. I still run into that barrier that I don't talk unless I know what to say. Although there are some languages I think it would be fun to learn, I'm not sure I could actually get out and talk.

Katherine said...

I wish I had something profound to contribute here, but I think I feel the same way, especially concerning relationships.

Thanks for the reminder that only complacency results when we think and never try. I've spent a lifetime observing the world around me and the people in it and formulating huge opinions about life and love and everything else--but what's the point if I never push aside my fear and resistance and put them into practice?