Tag Archive: adventures in openness

Wrote this in my journal yesterday and felt impressed to share it here, for whatever it’s worth: [emphasis in original; hyperlinks added, obvs]

I understand the appeal of giving up.  There’s a certain finality to it, which when you’re in the middle of something that as far as you know will never end can seem like deliverance in itself.  Where there is no vision, the people perish.  The question is whom do we trust to supply the vision?  That answer seems to be the most important.


Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start

The Sound of Music – Do Re Mi

[While I have no context from the memory itself with which to place it in my history (my next earliest memory is from approx. 3 years old), I can tell you this much.  Of all my memories, this is the most lucid.  In all honesty, it is more real to me than the present moment.  I remember the sensation very clearly (and the suddenness of it, although I have no idea what was before – or after), and the very real sense that as far as ‘I’ am concerned, this is the beginning of everything.  Beyond that, I post this without comment.]

…suddenly…it is pitch black. There is a kind of faint, low rumbling noise, but it seems muffled in some fashion.  I think to myself “What’s going on here?!”.  About 3 seconds later it becomes blindingly bright and the muffling recedes away (although the rumbling goes with it)…

[And that’s it!]

Narrator:  …but for reasons that are only evident to me now, I understood that he simply wanted it more; that he just had more invested. 

So I left.

He had already performed the task, as I had intended to, of recording the conversations of the day, just in case.  Through that earpiece he had a 3-second lead on the world…


Cassie: I know the argument. I know the logic. You’re saying you need my vote. I’m saying you can’t have it.


Some people don’t do politics.  Some people don’t do religion.  Some people don’t do celebrities.

I don’t do advice.  Mostly.  Not for *me*, anyway.

To understand what I mean, you need to understand how it is I make decisions.  The most important point is that I do not think my decisions.  I feel them.  The way that this works is that I think about the thing I wish to consider and note my feelings as I do so.  Having done this, I have a conversation with myself where I give myself the logical arguments concerning the topic and then note how my feelings change.  Until my feelings resolve, I will do my best to hold off acting or speaking my opinion, except where I believe the hearer is likely to have a relevant perspective or insight.  As time passes, that happens less and less.

Indeed, on some unresolved questions I simply avoid discussing the topic wherever possible, because I’m utterly sick to death of hearing the same things over and over and over.  Indeed, most conversations I have where people try to give me advice, are conversations I have already had with myself on numerous occasions.  If I don’t listen to me, why in the world would I listen to you?  Even worse, it’s not like I can articulate why I’m disregarding you (remember it’s not a rational process), so I can’t even engage you.  I just have to smile and nod.  Don’t take it personal, like.  You’re still a wonderful human being.  And hey, I’m totally down for giving you advice anytime you like! 😉

The last thing to mention is that the timescales for this process can be extremely protracted.  Sometimes I’ve tried to force myself to take the seemingly logical option and stop what I consider to be procrastinating.  It rarely ends well.  I’ve realised that when I do that, I always feel like I’ve been unnecessarily rushed by someone else’s principles and priorities and that sense of confinement sabotages whatever it is I’m doing.  I’m learning to instead trust myself when my gut says “not yet”, even when no-one else gets it.

There is such a thing as exercising faith in yourself.

Commenter Derek R mentions this interesting piece and this caught my eye:

There’s a saying that you should never ask anyone why they love you. [This is news to me – where do they say this nugget of wisdom?]  This is true — don’t do it. You shouldn’t be rationalizing or analyzing that feeling because the more you do, the more it fades.

In general, I would agree with this.  Very often love is quite literally irrational, and I often think maybe it’s meant to be so, in order to remind us that the truly important things are felt rather than thought.

And yet there was this one time when I loved and knew why.  And even though I can honestly say I’m glad she found what she was looking for, it’s remembering the why that stops it truly fading.

Red, in The Shawshank Redemption, says it much better than I ever could:

I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone.

I guess I just miss my friend.

AiO #3: Diver Down

The road to hell is paved with “Hey! I’ve got a great idea!”

A Fraggle original…maybe…

Many years ago, I was on a youth camp where one of the activities was caving.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience as I recall, except for one particular moment, when while crawling on my belly through a rather narrow tunnel, my helmet became jammed between the floor and the ceiling.  I couldn’t work out how to go either forwards or backwards, or even turn my head.  I started to wonder how long I would be stuck there or how I could possibly be freed.  Thankfully, that didn’t last too long, as the helmet managed to unjam itself relatively quickly.  I got the dickens out of there and didn’t think much more of it.

Except I do.  In fact, it is the only thing I really remember of that caving trip, and I feel panic whenever I think of it.  It is to me a reminder, that it is quite possible to get yourself into situations that you have no means of escaping, where you lose all control.  I hate the feeling that comes with this particular memory.

When the opportunity arose, then, to go caving as part of a Singles event this past weekend, I knew I had to take it.  Right at the start, I have to say I started to think maybe it was a bad idea.  I was very tentative and felt all the nervousness of my memory returning.  After moving on to the next cave, though, I started to get bolder and very quickly got into the swing of things.

Just before the final cave exit was an especially narrow segment and the guide expressed doubt that I would fit.  After being given instructions on how to tell whether I would fit by the comfort of the approach, I entered the segment.  The approach turned out to be trivial, and so emboldened by that and the doable appearance of the tighest spot, pressed on.

As it was, not much of any concern happened.  I felt the ceiling brush the back of my boiler suit, but that was it.  Mission accomplished.

When I got back that night, I reflected on a job well done…and on how it was a good job the tunnel was a wide as I thought it was….and on how it would have been a nightmare to get to me if I had been wrong….

…oh dear…

Note to My Future Wife

Dearest Sunshine,

First of all, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the wonderful times we’ve had so far together.   Especially all the times when I’ve done something ludicrously stupid, and you’ve just smiled and given me a hug.  Seriously, those moments are awesome!

Now you may be wondering why I’m writing this note.  Well, there’s something I need to say, and I don’t know how else to broach the subject, so I’ll just put it out there and let you ponder it in your own time.  After our whirlwind romance and shotgun wedding, you may not have realised that we are yet to spend Valentine’s Day together, and herein lies my quandry.

You may know by now that V-Day and I have never really gotten on.  It’s safe to say that this is one relationship that is beyond repair.  I know how much you appreciate romantic gestures, and I’m all for it.  I just hate to have other people tell us what our significant dates are.  It’s our marriage, after all, not theirs!

So here’s my proposal – and it can’t really be worse than the last one, eh?! 😉

I promise we’ll have Valentine’s Day every year.  With a card and everything.  Just not on the 14th of February.  We’ll mix it up and we can celebrate (ie theme the day by) any random event from our life together we want (like our first date, or our favourite song, or that time we broke down on the M25 in a blizzard – the sky’s the limit!).

I want Valentine’s Day to be ours, body and soul, and I don’t want to compete with everyone else for its affections.  It demeans us all.

I hope you like the idea.  It really means a lot to me, but so do you, and I want to know what you honestly think.

Love forever,

Your Adoring Fraggle

PS – We should see your parents this weekend.

PPS – Have you seen my socks?

[Have come to the conclusion that I need to walk the walk a bit and start revealing more of myself – which means telling the stories that I, whether rationally or not, don’t really like talking about.  Here goes…]

I should preface this by saying that there were a few things that ‘started by the Poole’ and this is just one of them, but it’s the one on my mind right now so it’s the one getting told.

‘Poole’ refers to a church singles event that happened back in the summer over a weekend in..well….Poole.

At Poole, I met a girl (I met a few, but I’m only telling one story here, remember?) – Codename: Grace.  Ironically, the first time I saw her on the Friday evening I didn’t even really notice her, but rather her friend.  Grace didn’t really register at the time.  It wasn’t until the following afternoon when activities had migrated to the beach, that I finally took notice.  I have to say, I wasn’t impressed.  Her and her friends quickly appeared to isolate themselves from everyone else, and I came to the conclusion that this was the ‘fit & don’t-we-know-it’ group.  The annoying kind because even though you know you’d be wasting your time with them, you end up attracted to them anyway and loathing yourself for it.  And so it was that I wanted to talk to Grace anyway, but simply not having the nerve to take on her AND her friends.

Fast-forward to the Sunday morning breakfast, as I looked for somewhere to sit with my Rice Krispies (they always take me back to my childhood!) I saw someone I knew, an empty chair next to her and in the next chair was Grace sitting by herself.  This was my chance, and for once I took it.  It was actually a very easy conversation, and during it I made a startling discovery.  She remarked that she’d come to Poole with the goal of meeting 10 new people, because she often struggles with it.  It was at this point that I learned…

Lesson #1: First impressions are unreliable!

What I’d taken as haughtiness was, in fact, shyness.

There was a bit of a hiccup with getting her number later in the day (and that’s a story I’m not yet ready to tell – it’s seriously pathetic!), but in the end, success was had and some time later a date was arranged.  From my perspective it was extremely stressful because I really didn’t have much of a plan, and what plan I did have was pretty rubbish (like going to a museum when it’s shut….genius, Fraggle!).  That said, it was enjoyable and we talked pretty much the whole time, I don’t remember there being any particularly awkward pauses – well, except for the point where she demanded to know why I didn’t think a particular feature on a building was breathtakingly beautiful (if it sounds like a strange moment, that’s because it was!).  For some reason I totally locked up at that point.  I felt like I really *should* have an answer for the question, but the truth was I didn’t.  It didn’t bother me one way or the other, but I’d managed to in that moment convince myself that that was somehow a character defect. Thus…

Lesson #2: Don’t take everything so darn personally!

I still wonder whether when we parted that night, she was hoping I would kiss her or something.  As it was, I’d decided beforehand that it was too early for anything like that, but I admit I felt a bit disappointed in myself afterwards that I didn’t simply consider the situation on it’s merits. (and no, I’m not entirely sure what I mean by that)

The last time I saw Grace was at another event a week or so later.  By this time though, my shyness had reasserted itself and I found myself unable to approach her even after we saw each other and said Hi.  We spoke very briefly a couple of times, but nothing substantial.

Lesson #3: Don’t think that there’s time for you to be shy.  You have no idea what’s coming…

At the end of the day before she left I gave her a gift that referenced the date and was utterly surprised when she then announced she was going to kiss me on the cheek!

Lesson #4: Sometimes awesome things happen.  Enjoy them while they last!

Little did I know that in this case it wouldn’t be lasting very long at all.  When I next spoke to her (with the intention of arranging another date), she informed me that she’d just started a relationship.  <Sigh>

The problem with real stories is that usually, the narrative is incomplete.  There are a fair number of questions outstanding for me (which are basically an attempt to see things from her perspective).  I have to accept that those questions will never be answered…

Lesson #5: You need a way to learn without feedback, because you can’t rely on it being available.

Poole itself was an interesting experience for me because I experienced myself in a way that I’m not used to – that weekend I became almost semi-confident and have found myself frustrated that I’ve been unable to capture that and bring some of whatever Pixie dust I ran that into back then with me into the normal world.  Yet another mystery to ponder…