Being a person is an immensely complex enterprise. Always, there is something to deal with.
Let’s go down the list: We must be fed and watered, housed, and kept cool or warm. Then we need money, employment, stimulation, entertainment and ways to express ourselves. Family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, children, pets and community groups all seem essential if we are to have the full human experience. And some kind of spiritual outlet fulfills many of us.
No wonder we are overscheduled and underslept.
Where I think we lose – or feel like we lose – control of keeping our lives together is when emotion become our first reaction to the snags of life. Emotions are visceral and therefore part of our essence, but that does not mean they’re always good. If anyone can explain how jealousy, for example, is a productive answer to anything, I think many of us would be interested.
The answer might be as simple as some kind of conscious filtering process when we notice that feeling of emotional upwelling. The simple act of observing it gives us power to over-rule, or at least modify what we do thereafter. Apology is good when necessary, but an exhausting lifestyle choice.
Men operate in a peculiarly ill-defined world when it comes to attracting women. We have vague ideas of what it takes. Unfortunately, they are often as vague as United Nations resolutions, and with about as much basis in reality.
The disadvantage from which men work is that we grab ideas and stick with them. We hear that women like scruffy men, so we neglect shaving for a while. Then someone says that what women really want is the strong, silent type, and so we run silent, run deep. Waiting in the dentist’s office, the Cosmo magazine informs us that the only way to get chicks is to emulate their father, so we go buy a Buick.
If you could devise a beast to do the opposite of what works, you would arrive at the man described, above. The wonder is that he ever gets within a swords-length of a woman, let alone anything closer.
But we do get to be around and with women, despite the bad ideas. Something works for us…but we never truly know what. It’s like opening the page of the Oxford English Dictionary – all 15,490 pages of it – and finding precisely the right word. It’s a miracle.
Have you ever had the experience of talking to someone, and for them to talk to you, only to find that they completely missed the point?
It’s not that you aren’t using a common language, nor that you are not both aware of the topic being discussed: the problem is that the words and phrases mean different things to both of you.
I have this odd circumstance with a work colleague. He will take one word of mine and move it into a context far removed from our current topic. He is not able to listen within the boundaries of our present mutual engagement. In a sense he is violating the rules of conversation, in which we listen to the other person, synthesize the gist and then repeat it back. This is the fundamental way we communicate viz: statement then feedback. Question and response. Suggestion and confirmation.
The process of finding compatible people automatically includes finding those with whom we have this common understanding of language. But it is really more than just language, it is the entire cultural meaning behind the words. And I am not so certain that it’s automatic, in the sense that we’re all too happy to overlook conversational bum notes telling us of linguistic collisions.
Everything is information. If, by noting a certain minor key in conversation we look a little harder at the person, we might avoid someone who will frustrate us in later times. Communication is everything, and talking is a pretty big chunk of everything. It had better be good.