Don’t Change The World

Somehow the idea that the greatest goal in life is to head out there into the world and change it, presumably for the better, has taken root.

Well intended notions like this survive because the underlying motive is pure. What’s left unexamined is whether the world needs the change I want to make, or if it’s possible.

I like to invert these ideas. Why do we think the world needs to change in the first place? And, more usefully, why isn’t it already close to where we think it needs to be? Mostly people talk about the big picture, like food security, access to water, education and all that stuff at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. Relationships feature somewhere down the list, but people want to change all that too.

The alternative to the frankly impossible challenge of changing others is to take care of our own corner of the universe. The need for change is obviated if you and I and all our neighbours and everyone else make sure our lives don’t require outside intervention. If we’re financially stable, if we don’t break the law, if we don’t seek to drain our community – all of these conscious acts mean we’re both an example and not targets for outside-imposed alteration.

Relationships are a subtle and yet still useful element of this idea that leading by example actually changes the world from the bottom up. Self-examination starts the process, by giving us the starting point from which to find the right person. Clarity of motive and understanding the work a solid and lasting relationship and, hopefully, marriage requires is next. Even the smallest introspection and honesty about our place in this process will improve our odds of being the best half of a whole we can be.

And if everyone did the same, how much less need there’d be for all kinds of expensive remediation. Fewer divorce attorneys, fewer psychotherapists, children more able to stand up straight and look life square in the face, much less waste of emotion as a result of shitty behaviour; all of this goes on, and yet few seek to take the steps towards changing these things for the better.

Bring it home. Let’s make ourselves better first.

It’s Not You, It’s me. Podcast #69

If you feel unloved, unlovable or just plain unattractive, you might be right. Is it realistic to think you can be one half of a terrific couple without any changes to your behavior, outlook or habits? We’ll see.

Unstinting

Life gives no guarantees, no carbon-fibre-clad promises, no surety of anything apart from the proverbial death and taxes. As much as we desire a path that avoids the very worst disasters, shit, as they say, happens.

Romance and coupling fall squarely in the sloppy mid-zone of stuff that can fall one way, or the other, or no particular way at all. Our intimate relationships with people can make for a great life, or be the ruin of us or oscillate between vague happiness and undecided dissatisfaction – of all human pursuits it might be the most uneven.

I think the misunderstanding comes about from taking Hollywood’s version of coupling as some kind of standard. I’m a cynic about this, because movie and tv producers’ motivation is firstly commercial, and latterly political. If they can make money by appealing to our desire for glossy happy endings (for us) or horror relationship stories (for bad people), they will exploit that to the max.

If we want happy endings (whatever that means, but generally conflict-free, fully engaged, prosperous, united and happy relationships) that’s what they’ll show us. There will be minor hiccups, but they will resolve with minimal effort.

What, then, are we to do when in real life we can’t even get beyond meeting people who might vaguely mesh with us? What if the hi-def screen process increasingly represents a vision of life with another that is a parody of our own lives in which low-energy dating that goes nowhere is our norm? Will this state of muddy affairs ever resolve?

A start might be some brutal self-examination. Would I date me? Am I an attractive prospect? Is my state of mind one of clarity and honesty when dealing with people? Am I wounded in ways that require more healing? Sometimes the best answer is that dating should be a much lower priority, if only because another failure will take us down another notch. Self-repair is a wonder of nature, but it takes time and energy. Success comes to the successful, a truism of the very worst and very best kind.