I attended a family reunion a few days ago and while it was nice to see and visit with people I don’t see very often, there was one conversation I had that left me angry and sad simultaneously. After the reunion and on the way back, there was a very near miss. One could almost say that it was a miracle that there wasn’t a crash involving the loss of lives… mine included. I don’t believe in miracles so I’ll put me being here and able to type this down to sheer, dumb luck. The combination of the upsetting conversation and the near miss caused me to reevaluate some things. The first thing I’ve done is made a very conscious decision to beware of placing anyone on a pedestal. I hadn’t even realized I’d been doing this for more than 30 years but I certainly realized it during the extremely unpleasant and revealing conversation mentioned above. There’s real danger and inevitable disappointment in placing anyone on a pedestal. The perfect person that exists only in your head does not exist in real life. Not only because no one is perfect but because the imagery you have carried in your head of that person is just that… imagery. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. Plus, people change. Even if they were the nearest to perfect person you’d ever met 30 years ago certainly doesn’t mean they still are today. Life happens and has a way of inevitably changing people.
Lesson Learned From Pedestal Placement
It only took mere seconds into the conversation to think, “Wow, this was a mistake!”. I was shocked by the person’s abrasive and, frankly, rude personality. It was as if she felt she had to be rude and confrontational toward anyone who dared speak to her. Very, very defensive. Perhaps something had happened to her that caused such a defensive posture and confrontational attitude toward others. Or perhaps she is now simply an extraordinarily unpleasant woman. I noticed she treated everyone in that same manner, male or female. I have no way of knowing which is the case, whether something had happened in her life to cause her to behave in such a manner or if that’s just who she is now. I cannot know and so any guessing on my part would be pure conjecture.
All that to say that one of the things I learned was to be more aware of how I think of others so that I never make the mistake of placing anyone on a pedestal again. The other thing I learned is that I didn’t realize the degree in which I had been living my life trying to revive the past and how that was the root of so many of my woes. Living in the past, or yearning for it to such an unhealthy degree, will only result in disappointment and an inability to fully appreciate the present. So, from this point forward I will no longer allow myself to imagine someone as perfect or even near perfect. I have already begun the process of letting the past stay where it is anyway, forever in the past. Letting go of certain things is not easy but this whole thing has made it abundantly clear to me that these things no longer serve any purpose, are actually unhealthy for me, and therefore best to discard like the rotting garbage that they are.
Moving Forward And The Confidence (er, Arrogance) Of Youth
There really never were any “good old days”… there were just times that weren’t as shitty as others, then or now. Sure, I was younger and had more energy and money than I do now but when I look back at everything and not intentionally excluding that bad times I realize that I’d been focusing solely on the fun times and completely ignoring all the mundane or even terrible times between those fun times. I have times of fun now, especially in New Mexico, but it’s just the same as the times I had been so misguidedly yearning for in the past. The only differences are that I’m older now, have less money, yet have more life experience at 51 than I did at 21. I recently read an article written by a 23 year old man. In it he went to great pains to explain how terrific he is, how much better his life is than everyone else’s and so on and so on. He is quite pleased with himself. The thing that struck me the most was his claim that at 23 he “already have more life experience than a man twice my age”. Aside from the obvious mathematical absurdity of that statement, his view of himself as having more life experience than a man twice his own age is ludicrous. If there had been a comment section I would have left him a message to report back when he had actually reached 46, twice what he is now, and let us know if he still thinks he had more life experience over two decades ago. How ridiculous! Oh, well, he’ll learn. If he doesn’t life will beat the hell out of him. That’s just how it goes. Anyway, here’s to letting go of the past, not placing people on pedestals, and moving forward.