I am irked. Oh don’t worry, it happens all the time. And this is the kind of irked that stems from nothing conclusive and goes nowhere but feeds the rats in my brain in the wee smalls. So I should really just have a cup of tea and go to bed. But first let me tell you about Truth to Face. While the kettle boils.
When I was younger I told my mother that I was not going to engage in small talk. It was pointless, insincere and usually an excuse to hide from what really should be being said. Yeah well, I matured a bit. Eventually I taught myself small talk like it was a second language. Not something native to me but discernable if you watched close enough. And possible to still be sincere about, just on a lighter level.
Even so, I never lost my intensity for relationships. It surfaces now as what I’ve come to call Truth to Face. There was a situation at work awhile back where a co-worker (also a friend) was working his way through his colleagues, trying to work the system. Essentially burning bridges. When he got to me everyone knew, and I told him so. Fortunately he took it well, we worked out a great solution and days later I got questioned at work ‘How did you manage that?!’
‘Um, I told him the truth, to his face.’
Pretty simple really. I didn’t complain about him to others, I didn’t hide my reluctance to help with excuses, I just told him the truth. To his face.
Truth to Face isn’t for the faint of heart. And it does not always work out well. But sometimes it helps. It helps quiet the rats, it helps cross off the regrets, it helps clarify relationships and sometimes it helps friends.
There is a video going around these days titled “This girl passed out drunk on a couch, watch what he does. It’s incredible.”
I picked this particular video because it came up on my fb one morning when I was looking for something to be irked about, but it’s a fairly generic example of a ridiculous ‘let’s be excellent to each other’ trend. (Not to be confused with the equally ridiculous ‘let’s be excellent to ourselves’ trend which I will be irked about on another day.)
The obviously staged ‘how to’ style short shows a girl supposedly passed out drunk on a couch and the approach of a preppy 20-something creeper. And yet! Instead of engaging in creep-tastic activities the young man places a pillow under her head, tucks a blanket around her and sets a cup of water nearby, then looks directly into the camera and says with melancholy smugness “Real men treat women with respect.”
Where to start? This is just one of a hundred videos out there: ‘watch these hero’s return dropped wallets’ etc., and typically I ignore them because frankly, they are beneath my notice. Yes I said it. Beneath my notice. I am in no way impressed that you did not molest, assault or embarrass an unconscious girl on what is presumably your own couch.
‘Incredible’?? Merriam-Webster defines incredible as “too extraordinary and improbable to be believed”.
Are you kidding? Don’t misunderstand. I’m pleased that there are positive messages on the interwebs. We all need to see the brighter side of humanity as much as possible. But this is not the brighter side of humanity! This is completely normal humanity. This is bare minimum humanity. How are we not disgusted and horrified that this video implies any other behavior should be expected?!
And moreover, how are we not equally disgusted at the girl’s behavior? Again, do not misunderstand – I’m not targeting a gender, an age group or a particular substance abuse. I am not saying anyone is asking for anything or laying any blame – but when did it become ok to willingly render yourself incapable of self care and expect the world to pick up your slack?
Regardless of what kind of behavior I find acceptable I do live in reality and would not for one second expect to be incapacitated anywhere but my own home and not meet with more trouble than is fun. I’m pretty sure I was born with more of a sense of self-preservation than that. Wasn’t everybody?
C’mon people, grow some values.
I write this in the spring of the year. It’s a bit wobbly legged yet as seasons go, but it has definitely come too far to go back.
A woman approached me at work the other day and said “Hello, beautiful day! I know a story about a boy.”
She sat down nearby. A spry senior she went on rapidly in a discernibly Shanghai accent. “The boy was very smart. Went to school in New York! Full scholarship. But then he could not find a job. Nothing for two years. He had bills to pay, he went to many interviews no job. But he stayed in New York. Finally he got offered a job. Two years he waited, his first day of work he was killed when the towers came down. Do you think he was lucky or unlucky?!”
I blinked, open mouthed at all this abruptness and raced my mind through all manner of plot twists. Lucky or unlucky? What were his spiritual views? Did he leave a family behind? Was it a good job? Did he die instantly?
“Lucky or unlucky?!” She said loudly at me. “You don’t know do you? You never know what will happen tomorrow. You always remember that!”
And with that she stood up and departed. As she left I noticed that she had a sprig of cherry blossoms tucked into her toque.
I have thought about her several times since that encounter. I wonder how she has lived her life in accordance with her story. I myself have lived a good portion of my years with let’s say inadequate respect to ‘tomorrow’. I traveled young, I bounced from job to job, I picked at schools and I have a degree that I am in no way using.
I did not save money, I did not start a family and I did not particularly focus on a career. That said, I am still very much a planner, and have landed thus far on my feet. Is it even possible to really live like you expect nothing from tomorrow? With some few extreme cases I think not. There is a difference between expectation and rigidity, between planning and fixation. There is something to be said for not letting Tomorrow govern Today, but I will always have high hopes.