Friday, August 29, 2014

Not my job

People don't like it when I say I'm not nice. Like I'm admitting to murder. It's kind of the same thing, really.

But what I mean is this: I don't see it as my job to make everyone else around me comfortable with what's happening. I'm not comfortable with what's happening. They can damn well be uncomfortable with it, too. Let's be uncomfortable together. To a point. I'd rather be comfortable together, but that's not always possible, and when discomfort and conflict happens, I don't see it as my job to make anyone else safe *(note: except when I'm being paid - when I'm being paid, it is my job, and I've proven very good at it).

I don't see as my job, as a person in conversation with you, to keep you safe. You may be a person uncomfortable with conflicting opinions, preferring the polite cover of niceness to displaying an honest reaction. You may be a person who doesn't like to see honesty displayed with vigor - it feels rude, invasive, threatening. In that case, I imagine we won't talk long or often. I will make you uncomfortable at some point, despite my best efforts.

I don't see as my job, as a person in conflict with you, to keep you safe. I am responsible to choose what I say and control my responses to avoid physical and psychic wounds, but conflict is a messy thing and I am not pleased to find myself in it. I would not choose conflict, so if we are in conflict, it must be important to me, or you must be pushing the point, which I'm irritated by. I will engage to the best of my capacity not to hurt you, but if you become hurtful or disrespectful, I have a sharp blade myself. I can't promise my temper won't make me use it, beyond my best efforts at nice and polite. I can't promise I'll be in control of the anger to keep you feeling safe and appreciated.

And in fact, that's not something I'm even trying for. I'm not trying to be better. I try to stay out of direct conflict (though I'm sometimes a magnet). I engage conversation with people who find me engaging, and leave those who seem intimidated alone. I live out loud for my kids to see and ask me questions, and give them honest answers, giving my family the bulk of my patience and love.

There is so little time, we have no idea.

I don't want to waste it on people who only like my potential, who only want me in the most polite and nicest package I can display. It takes a lot of effort, time and energy to keep that display up, and I've turned that energy inward and funneled it outward through creation. I don't have it to give away for free. I don't even have it to draw on - it's engaged.

Luckily, I don't have to be teacher for every person who needs a lesson. Sometimes, I just need to deliver the message and let them take it in how they do or don't. Sometimes, that's as much as I'm willing to give to someone.

That doesn't give me permission to be mean. I am responsible for at least trying to avoid that. But I'm not very practiced at keeping my passion tamped down, since I don't like conflict - I'm graceless. That's how I am, and that's as good as I'm going to be for awhile. I can't spend my energy feeling ashamed about it. I have lots to do and time is flowing like a river, to the sea...(thank you, Alan Parsons).

We're all here, on this planet in the middle of nowhere, living in a giant socio-economic experiment controlled by Power, while Love tries to shore things up from the bottom. I'm putting my energy where I feel it has the most use, and when it gets diverted into the muddy mires of  polite niceness and my failure to comply, maybe cutting that short with rudeness or a flash of anger is just the ticket to let me move along.

It's hard to be a human body and an eternal spirit and a good person and a good parent and a good student and a good teacher and a good employee and a good citizen and a good everything. I'm in the trenches and I'm not that strong. I'm not that confident. I'm not that good.

Thank god it's not my job to keep you safe.

(musical interlude by They Might Be Giants: Cyclops Rock. feels relevant somehow http://grooveshark.com/s/Cyclops+Rock/2fSZcO?src=5)