You Get What You Need

The nature of humanity, its essence, is to feel another’s pain as one’s own, and to act to take that pain away. There is nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.

~ John Connolly ~

I opted to stay home last night instead of playing Trivia at The Beehive. My IC played, as I suppose she always will whenever she’s in town on Trivia night. I am not addicted to Trivia, nor to throngs of loud people in loud places. After weeks and weeks of once-a-week exposure to that adrenaline-laden environment, I think I needed a break; a serene Thursday evening. I do appreciate the experience of gentle night-after-night serenity, interrupted only by noises coming not from live humans but from a two-dimensional screen that can, unlike groups of live humans, be muted and ignored without fear of creating offense. Trivia is enjoyable. Being social is fun and rewarding; but my personality requires breaks from the stimulation of crowds. I need to recover my energy through isolation and solitude. My IC, on the other hand, recharges through social interactions. Interesting, I think, that people with such different personalities are so well-matched.

Home alone, I watched one episode of Rita, a Danish comedy-drama. I may continue watching it, a bit at a time, but the single episode I watched did not grab me the way so many Danish and other Scandinavian series and films have done. But it may provide mindless entertainment when I feel the need to watch drivel. For some reason, I prefer to listen to foreign television and film in the original language, reading the dialogue as English subtitles. In an ideal world, I would be fluent in every language and, therefore, would understand without subtitles. The world is not ideal, though, so I will cope with written translations. Speaking of subtitles, I find it interesting to watch an English-language program with the English-language subtitles turned on; the text version rarely matches what I hear coming from the speakers. I wonder how many adjustments are made to the actual “noise” from foreign flicks when I am reading the English language version? I’ll probably never know and it’s probably okay that I will never fully understand. Life is never quite what it seems, is it?


I would be wise, every day, to consider the quote with which I began this post. It would serve as a reminder of who I think I am, at my core, and might prompt me to steer clear of behaving in ways I find juvenile and reprehensible and fundamentally at odds with the world in which I want to live.

Yesterday, I made the silly mistake of reading some NextDoor posts that presented as factual a barrage of unreliable stories about so many things. I should have ignored those appalling, stupid, mindless, moronic posts. But I did not. And my responses were predictably met with bitter attacks by people who very probably believe our flat Earth is inhabited by rat-people whose primary objective is to infest the body politic with rat-people disguised as humans. The world would be a better, safer, more humane place without them. Yet I took the bait, which no doubt caused these beasts to ratchet up their falsehoods. I wonder what causes them to be such utter and complete dimwits? Perhaps they are responding to pain and pressure the only way they know how; by spreading malicious lies whose only purpose is to fan the flames of hatred. I want, desperately, to be a better person than I am. These creatures make that wish an almost impossible dream. Despite my loathing for far-right-wing idiots who refuse to engage in debate and, instead, engage in lies, I can feel compassion for even the beasts among them. I do not know whether a guy who posted last night about losing a friend is left wing, right wing, or a flaming moderate. I know only that his post reveals he is experiencing pain. His neighbor and friend, who lost his wife not long ago, died. The guy who lost his friend posted a poignant comment about missing his friend. I felt compassion for the guy. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a Trumpster or a fan of Biden, he’s a person who lost someone who mattered to him. It’s painful to read about such an experience. It helps me to acknowledge that even the monsters among us have human feelings. (This guy, incidentally, is not someone I’ve named a monster…I do not even know his politics.) If only the “other side” would attempt to feel some modicum of compassion. But, even more, if only they would feel some sense of obligation to the truth. Alas, they feel an obligation only to made up and manipulated “data” that claims to support their spurious beliefs.  I wish I could assume their beastly behavior is simply an expression of their pain. But I can’t. I have so much work yet to do on myself; it’s an unending and impossible task.


I had my handyman over yesterday to discuss with me a LOT of projects I want him to do for me. He should be over later this morning to begin working on them. The projects will take quite a while to complete, but my guy is ready to begin them today. I’m in no rush; but I’ve been wanting to get them started for ages, so it will be nice to begin them.

I should have remembered, though, that I’m having several friends over this afternoon. I’ll have to ask him to park so they will not block him in. And I may have to have him focus his attention on project components that won’t have him underfoot or vice versa. Oh, well.


Tomorrow morning, I’ll orchestrate a video conference with several siblings. I look forward to another engagement, despite the fact that it will not be in person. Such is life. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you will find, you get what you need.”


Do all people long to be better humans? Does everyone recognize how far from perfect they are, how deeply flawed? Am I the only one who looks in the mirror and sees a patchwork of cracks that can be repaired only by starting over with new glass and a fresher image to reflect? That may be the wrong way to look at oneself, but I think it may be the only honest way. Seeing and feeling and knowing where the flaws are seems more honorable and genuine than denying those faults or trying to conceal them with strips of artificial personality. But concealing them may correspond to an attempt to eliminate them; so, maybe hiding them is not dishonest, just hopeful. And forgiving oneself for possessing them is said to be a requisite first step for eliminating them. But how much forgiveness is each of us due? At what point must be recognize that forgiving ourselves is like a “get out of jail free” card? If all we need to do to “atone for our sins” is to recognize and forgive them, what’s the motivation to keep them at bay? Or, perhaps, the way to change our perceptions of ourselves is to accept the argument that says “if you are flawed or broken, what does that say about me and my embrace of you as you are?” No, that seems more like the style of an enforcer  trying to strong-arm a person into coming around to his point of view. It’s hard to say what might bring a high-polish shine to a rough stone. Maybe a high-polish shine always is artificial. Maybe cracks and rough surfaces represent the natural order. Maybe attempts to improve one’s humanity are destined to bring flaws into more intense focus, calling attention to them instead of correcting or concealing them. Maybe our attempts to “fix” our core selves are just as vain as trying to “fix” the way we look.


Enough internal examination for today. Time to get another cup of coffee and take on the universe.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.