I don’t know what I might have said
If I had had the room
I don’t know what I might have said
I don’t know what I might have said
If I had had the room
I was thinking of my epitaph this morning, after reading the colophon of a book I love. It struck me how different my epitaph would be, if it said “He died,” with the addition of one word: “And.”
Both are good epitaphs, I suppose; they communicate the essential information.
When I die, I will be dead: “He died” is appropriate, final, and enough.
But how much greater would it be, for the me who will no longer exist, for my epitaph to be “And he died”? It implies that there was more: I lived, perhaps I loved, perhaps I did… such that my death will have been the period at the end of a life’s sentence.
I don’t think I’m afraid of death. I’ve seen it too much to appreciate its rarity for each life. My own recent brush with death was amusing in how nearly trivial it was, and the primary anecdote from it was from deep within a morphine fugue; no profound utterances from the World to Come from me… just something humorous about a whale.
But what I am afraid of is having something ungiven. I want my cup to be empty when I die. I want to be able to say “It is complete.” I want the choice to add or ignore the “and” to my epitaph to be deliberate.
My tears keep falling in the middle of the night
I tell myself that it will be all right
Through years of ache it’s come to light
They are still alive.
I cannot touch them, a veil remains
But is no longer the source of pain
The truth, it shines, the light retains
They are still alive.
I feel as if I’ve seen a caul
Waver, weaken, finally fall
The truth beckons through it all:
They are still alive.
And I can believe.
This was written after finding out that someone with whom I’ve fallen out of touch is doing well. I’m okay with still being out of touch, but I can’t quite contain my joy at finding out that my fears were misplaced.
My writing has a general sense of melancholia – even the most determinedly happy writing has a cloud of “but…” hanging over it. Written in a bit of a fugue, this is … different, largely because the “someone” here was a primary component of the inescapable sense of melancholia.
(I had a casual conversation with an old friend, and dropped a “Hey, do you know whatever happened to ____,” and got information back, rather unexpectedly. Quite surprising, and wonderful. And yes, this is related to the author from “Today’s Seconds.”)
It’s a marvelous thing, thinking “whatever happened to…?” and discovering that the answer was a lot better than you’d been worried about.
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, someone wrote this poem to me, because I was unable to see (and largely unable to appreciate) what was around me at the time. Prophetic, really, because I’m still that way. I haven’t been in touch with the author for decades, and it ended up being published in a yearbook in her senior year of high school – and it deserved more.
by Susanne Elizabeth Baxley
As you walk along the beach of life Your impressions are left on the sand The impressions depict times of pain and strife As well as the times life was grand. It is well to look back at the days gone by But don't dwell on the past for too long. For each second you turn to look back, and ask why? A second of today will be gone.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because what could I do? There were lots of them, and one of me. So I left it up to someone else, who was surely better equipped and better informed than I. That way, not only was my burden lighter, but the ones who were best equipped could do the work in less time and with less effort than I could, and everyone wins, right?
With apologies to Martin Niemoller, who wrote “First they came…” It’s an inspirational poem. Pay attention to it. What you can do, you should do. It’s better to try and fail than it is to decide the effort isn’t worth it; I’d rather have someone who tried to climb a mountain that was too high than someone who shrugged and didn’t even try.
It brings to mind Rush’s “Bravado” (“We will pay the price, but we will not count the cost”.)
The question is: where do you do? The thing that got me thinking about this was another meme on Facebook, saying “What if police cars had ‘Inshallah’ instead of ‘In God we Trust'” or something like that, then saying “That’s how atheists feel!”
Well… in that case, atheists aren’t worried about it and aren’t inspired to post stupid memes on Facebook, right? Because if I saw that, I’d feel about like I do when I see Christian themes: I’m not worried about it. Maybe I’m even inspired some. Certainly my faith, such that it is, isn’t so externally driven that I’m shaken by something that someone else, even a group of someone elses, says… even when that “someone else” might be the government.
Maybe I should worry; after all, the Holocaust wasn’t built in a day. But at the same time, I have a greater trust in humanity than others do, I guess: ironic that these atheists say man is inherently good but refuse to trust, while as a Jew I’m supposed to assume that man is ignorant yet I am able to trust my fellow humans…
This is how I think of Rush’s entire studio catalog, in short summaries.
This is a set of young rockers trying to follow their dreams. Raw, immature, full of pride and purpose. Surprisingly good, especially when you consider that “Working Man” was an earnest staple of the band for their entire career.
Sophomore effort; apparently switching drummers to the new guy worked out. The sound’s a lot lighter, the playing is far less raw, and the topics are much better than on “Rush”, even though it still had songs like “Rivendell” on it. This is a band trying to figure out its new sound, and it’s working.
This is a band indulging itself after Fly By Night; it’s almost like they said, “Hey, Fly By Night worked, let’s do that, but more of it.” It sounds indulgent in retrospect, but it’s still Rush and it’s got some great stuff on it – Bastille Day, The Necromancer, even The Fountain of Lamneth has value despite the indulgence. The sound didn’t grow a ton from Fly By Night to Caress of Steel, and neither did the writing… they grew some, but not much. It ends up feeling uncommitted.
Commitment time! With Caress of Steel feeling unfulfilled and the band teetering on the edge, the guys decided to go for it and do what it feels like they really wanted. Instead of trying to figure out what someone else wanted, they did what they wanted to do, and gosh, it seems to have worked. The sound was a little better than on Caress of Steel – the sound really hadn’t taken a leap yet – but the playing and writing is very, very strong. This one might be a classic.
An album produced by the confidence gained through 2112 and a successful live album. It sounds like they were inspired by doing well when they did what they felt like doing. It’s a confident album. It also had a giant leap in sound quality with Cygnus X-1. They introduced more instruments, too – the synths finally started really rearing their heads, becoming core parts of Xanadu and other songs. The synths were an interloper in the sound spectrum; this becomes important.
Wait, did we say A Farewell to Kings was confident? Then Hemispheres takes that confidence and multiplies it by ten. This feels like they decided to challenge themselves to do listenable progressive rock, yet still propelled forward by things other than pastoral sounds. The actual sound of the album is a little fuzzy, a little dark (where’s the sustain on Geddy’s bass?) but the album itself… you either love it to death or hate it. (I love it. Probably my favorite Rush album.) The synths were still trying to find out where they went, though; La Villa Strangiato won with them, Circumstances… used them. But when Circumstances is the weakest song on your album, you have a winner.
They finally moved away from the indulgence of prog rock. Tightened the songs dramatically. Also opened up the sound a good bit, and the synths fit well here. If Hemispheres wasn’t the perfect Rush album, Permanent Waves was.
Note that this is a crappy summary. Permanent Waves is a freaking great album. Natural Science, Freewill, Spirit of Radio, Jacob’s Ladder (which gave me chills, seeing it live on their last tour), Different Strings, Entre Nous… all fantastic songs. And that’s every song on the album.
Here, they took Permanent Waves and amped it up again. The sound is brighter and entirely … Moving Pictures. This is Rush’ best-sounding album – it’s also one of the best sounding albums (IMO) from anyone, anywhere, and it’s built on nothing but fantastic songs all the way through. The synths are still lurking, still looking for where to really be used, but they’re just right – just like everything is on this album. If Permanent Waves wasn’t the perfect Rush album, Moving Pictures was.
And if we’re telling the truth, Moving Pictures is the perfect Rush album.
Signals is what happens when you don’t know where else to go – and you choose a different direction. The underused synths from Moving Pictures took the limelight, so to speak, and the sonic spectrum suffered dramatically for it – the synths collided with everything, drowning out the drums (which sound muddier than ever before, even compared to Hemispheres) and the guitars (Rush had a guitarist?). It’s a great album, really; the music as written is fantastic, but the sound really hurt it. If Moving Pictures wasn’t the perfect Rush album, Permanent Waves was. Not Signals.
Rush chose to go a different way with Signals – on later albums, they would just stick with what worked. I liked the choice they made here, even if the sound suffered from it. I wish they’d have been as adventurous later. Apart from Vapor Trails and Snakes and Arrows, this is the last experimental album Rush made (and neither of those later albums was as experimental as Signals, for Rush’s sound.)
Signals was my introduction to Rush – from here I went to Hemispheres and then to… everything.
Grace Under Pressure was an album where they tried to figure out how to fit synths in with everything else, trying to craft their sound. The synths actually tried to duck the guitar (which was what hurt Signals) and the bass (now a Steinberger headless, not sure what model) also tried to dodge the drums. The band was trying to find the perfect mix again, but with more instruments to choose from. Songwriting was still very tight; Peart sounds like he’d pretty much done everything he wanted to do, from a drummer’s perspective, and was basically playing around (something that had started on Signals.) Geddy went from a melodic bass approach (where every line was a melody, duh) to more of a traditional bass player’s approach, where he was holding down the low end of the sound when he wasn’t playing keyboards. Song construction stabilized; guitars, then synths in the chorus, lots of ringing guitar chords.
Geddy changed his singing technique – his deep vibrato started to disappear at this point. I missed it.
Grace Under Pressure, amplified. Clearer sound than Grace Under Pressure, still great songs, but it feels like they just did Grace Under Pressure with newer instruments and more of them. I think it’s still the Steinberger bass, but it doesn’t matter. (Later research: nope, it’s his Wal bass, which he used for this and the next three albums.) It’s still got little meat because it’s trying to dodge the drums.
More of Power Windows’ attitude of “let’s run with this synth thing.” The sound is great, even though I find Geddy’s Wal bass to be really weak here, and the snare was… weird. Alex’ sound was meatless because of the sonic spectrum. Great playing, but still strangely lifeless. This album is sort of the Grace Under Pressure’s gutless grandchild; the genes are there, but the heart isn’t, even though the songwriting, as usual, is about as good as you could hope for. (Song construction was still kinda boring, with the same guitar-driven then synth-driven shifts throughout.)
Geddy’s enunciation during this period drove me nuts. “Hold yuh fiyuh,” indeed. Thankfully, this was a vocal tic that lasted for only this and the live album that accompanied it.
At last! Back to guitar rock! The song construction finally changed, and the band sounds like they’re trying to work out how to get back to playing with meat. It’s not here – this album sounds really light, apart from subject matter – but they’re searching for the sound again instead of saying “Where is it? Let’s add a synthesizer.” Who knew Rush had a guitarist?
Having rediscovered that they have one of rock and roll’s unheralded heroes at guitar, they decided to use him. More bass (and low end, period) than Presto, it’s a funny, great album. Good mix, but still a little top-heavy. Ged’s still on the Wal. Neil still sounds like he’s searching for a reason to play the drums.
Having rediscovered that they have one of rock and roll’s unheralded heroes on bass, they decided to put him in the mix… big time. Geddy finally abandoned the Wal and went to a good bass for him, his Jazz. One of Rush’s better bass guitar sounds. Very heavy album, almost a reaction to how light the previous six albums had sounded. Has “Alien Shore” on it, which would make any album good. It’s still only a decent Rush album, though. (Most bands wish they had something as good as this.)
This is where the song construction finally overtook the songwriting. (This was a one-album phase, thank goodness.) The songwriting here feels… tired. The playing’s pretty good, even Neil sounds interested on drums (he started taking lessons from Freddie Gruber for this album). The sound itself is a little raw, but still mature – it’s a good, bright sound. Not as good as Moving Pictures, but few albums are. This album was a Rush album – again, most bands would kill to have something as good as this, but for Rush, it’s another album that’s good to listen to, but it’s also “meh” because of high expectations.
Years have passed, with much tragedy for Neil, between Test for Echo and Vapor Trails. The sound took a giant, giant, humongous leap backwards – this can be a hard album to listen to, because of the recording quality (everything is brickwalled). Very few examples of dynamics, and even when they’re there (“Secret Touch,” “Ghost Rider”) they’re still pretty much brickwalled. Everyone is playing incredibly hard the whole way through – Alex sounds like he’s kinda where Neil was on the prior seven albums (“What’s left to do? Oh, I’ll noodle.”) but Neil’s playing like a man who needs an income again. Unfortunately, he’s also playing like he’s done most of what can be done.
I totally love this album. If not for the sonic quality, I’d have it on a pedestal along with the “Golden Era” albums from 2112 through Grace Under Pressure – and given that it sounds like Rush was actually interested again, it probably belongs on the pedestal despite the sound quality. And if you’re wondering, I actually find I still prefer the original flawed release; the remaster sounds much better but I love the rawness of the original.
With this album, we started seeing more live stuff from Rush than studio work. Rush is a great live band, but… I wanted studio albums more than live.
“Hey, let’s record an album of covers so we can make a lot of money on tour! Maybe we can go on tour again afterwards just so we can promote that we were on tour! And then go on tour! Where’s my money?”
Let’s just say that while I like a lot of these songs and am always super-excited when Rush gives me stuff to listen to… I was not impressed.
New producer who doesn’t want the band to rest on its laurels in any way, Neil’s actually invested in lyrics again… Nick R. wanted the sounds to harken back to the classic sounds from the band (so you get echoes of every great Rush album here, it feels like), so in some ways it sounds like they’ve freshened up a ton of their catalog… and it all works. Great mix, great songwriting, adventurous. Their best album since Moving Pictures, in my opinion, although if I had to make a choice between this and Signals, Signals would probably win.
Let’s do Snakes and Arrows, except in a concept album! It’s actually really good, but the sound didn’t mature much from Snakes and Arrows, and the concept album part felt a little lazy to me. It’s still a great album, and it’s definitely something for the pantheon, but it’s not a competitor for “best album” like Snakes and Arrows would be.
And the endless “give us money” tours preceding and following the album finally broke Neil for the road.
Recently, a fellow I know on Facebook mentioned unfriending someone (for very good reasons), and it got me thinking a little more on the rules on how I use the site.
I find that I have four fairly simple rules.
I add people who I think I would respect in real life as friends, and follow them. It means I don’t have a giant list of friends, I suppose, but it does tend to mean that when I have someone on my list, it’s someone whose name I would recognize in real life.
I add them because I know them (in real life) or I came across them through their interactions with others (i.e., friends of friends) and would want to interact with them.
It generally doesn’t matter if I agree with them or not, although there are some simple metrics that would probably prevent my bothering with them, I guess. A friend of a friend who constantly refers to http://rawstory.com and http://salon.com as God’s given truth is probably not someone with whom I’d interact. (It’s not that those sites cannot say something true, but they’re so typically slanted that … ugh.)
It happens that I add people who I get to know better over time, and … who knows? Maybe I regret it, but I’m not a fan of surrounding myself with people with whom I do nothing but agree. I don’t want to be expected to comply with someone else’s ideology; why would I demand someone comply with mine? (See Rule #3.)
I use Facebook’s “Like” feature very very rarely. The general rule for me is that if I might “like” it, I’ll choose to share it or comment on it instead. This goes for everything; posts, comments, whatever.
It’s not that “Like” isn’t useful – it’s been designed to show a response to a posting, after all, and it’s gotten more nuanced than it was.
In general, though, I don’t want Facebook altering my feed based on what it thinks I will respond to.
I want a heterogenous culture surrounding me. I want different viewpoints. I want different opinions. I want people to challenge me intellectually and emotionally. I don’t want a horde of potential sycophants providing content.
If I thought enough of you to add you as a friend, regardless of what wacko thoughts you had rolling in your head, then I trust myself enough to keep you as a friend.
This doesn’t mean that I will never unfriend someone, I guess, but it happens very rarely. (I don’t remember the last time I unfriended someone.)
I will, however, stop following people under some conditions, mostly related to problems with Rule #4.
When someone shows that their decision processes are ruled by emotion, I stop interacting with them.
Facebook has a lot of people on it who seem dominated by rage and offense. (I don’t think they’re this way in real life – but on social media, some aspects of personality are emphasized to cartoonish levels. People who don’t recognize this really need to stay off of social media altogether, but that means 99% of Facebook would have to quit.)
The truth is that a lot of the rage is probably justified. In the last week, we had the “Stanford Rapist” – a rapist who received an outlandishly short jail sentence – and the Orlando mass murder at the Pulse nightclub.
Both situations were horrifying, in different ways; both deserved a visceral response.
Spoiler alert: they got their responses.
However, the nature of the responses – especially through discussion – tells me a lot about the person with whom I might interact.
It doesn’t bother me if they’re emotional; these are emotionally laden events! Anyone who can read about a rape without emotion is a robot. Anyone who reads about 49 people killed and has no feeling of horror… that’s someone desensitized to being human.
My thought is: feel the emotion! Understand it – and then act rationally. Emotion is a perfectly valid stimulus for decision-making.
It’s a terrible sole source for decisions, though, just like “pure reason” would be.
The world’s not simple, folks. Emotion wants simplicity; the killer used guns? NO MOAR GUNS! FOR ANYONE! EVAR! The rapist was a white man? NO MORE WHITE MAN! ALL WHITE MEN ARE THREATS!
That’s stupid. That kind of insistence on trigger-laden decision making is something that I can’t deal with.
I recognize the validity of the emotion; it’s emotional, after all. It’s not that the person echoing these sentiments is unjustifiable, or invalid, or stupid. I don’t want to say “don’t feel what you feel” – that’d be wrong.
But reacting that way tends to lead to them telling me that I shouldn’t feel what I feel. That’s just as wrong as me telling them how to feel.
So once they show themselves willing to accept this kind of decision-making, I … simply … stop. I don’t tell them they’re wrong. I don’t inform them of their error. I don’t tell them that I’m not talking to them any more. I don’t unfriend or unfollow them.
I just watch and listen. I still (probably) value their expertise and humanity in other ways, after all. I just can’t interact with them without endangering their perceived safe spaces, and I don’t want to bother with their emotions. They’re not my emotions, after all, and if they’re not willing to treat me with rationality, well, I’m okay with that. I don’t want to inflict my views on them any more than I want them to demand that I comply with their views.
So there you have it; my basic four rules for social media. There are more, realistically:
How do you govern yourself on social media?
I find I have a difficult relationship with [Facebook](https://wwwfacebookcom/josephottinger) I think Facebook has a lot of potential value, but with so many people using it so differently, it ends up taking almost as much as it gives. It not only gives me a neutral environment to interact with friends from my distant past – people from middle school whom I still remember fondly! It’s given me a chance to see old friends’ lives – as their careers and their children mature. It’s given me a chance to vicariously participate in the things that matter to them – graduations, successes, failures. I’ve had closure for things from years and years ago – conversations with people who had tried to bully me, whether ignorantly or not. It’s given us a chance to see each other as people, actual adults, as opposed to the caricatures created by first impressions of strangers. Facebook is excellent at fostering light connections, but such connections do a poor job of representing actual *people* – including me. On Facebook, an offhand statement, meant mildly and in context, appears as a core belief, a statement I am willing to defend to the death and because of the nature of first impressions, no amount of context changes that impression. Incidentally, I think libertarians who advocate anarchy are wrong, although I do think a society composed *solely* of people with decent rational self-interest could exist and prosper in pure anarchy. But Facebook readers *tend* to not recognize that continuum and its potential for growth and refinement. ) But at the same time, in America we advocate innocence until guilt is proven – and Facebook ignores the potential innocence. I’m tempted to filter Facebook quite a bit – spend a few days looking at who posts most often on my feed, and what they post.
I find I have a difficult relationship with Facebook. I think Facebook has a lot of potential value, but with so many people using it so differently, it ends up taking almost as much as it gives.
The good of Facebook comes in the connectivity. It not only gives me a neutral environment to interact with friends from my distant past – people from middle school whom I still remember fondly! – but it exposes me to a wide variety of outlooks and experiences I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.
It’s given me a chance to see old friends’ lives – as their careers and their children mature. It’s given me a chance to vicariously participate in the things that matter to them – graduations, successes, failures. It gives me a chance to commiserate and congratulate, even though years and miles separate us.
I’ve had closure for things from years and years ago – conversations with people who had tried to bully me, whether ignorantly or not, for example. It’s given us a chance to see each other as people, actual adults, as opposed to the caricatures created by first impressions of strangers.
It’s given me a chance to meet new people with common interests – the YYNOT “band” (they’re not really a band, but they create videos of cover songs for Rush, even though the people involved are separated by thousands of miles in most cases.)
It’s given me a chance to see others’ agony and interests – and question my own reactions. In some small ways, it’s helped me define myself, in how I see the world, in the things I value, and in the things I could do better.
At the same time, it’s frustrated me. Facebook is excellent at fostering light connections, but such connections do a poor job of representing actual people – including me. On Facebook, an offhand statement, meant mildly and in context, appears as a core belief, a statement I am willing to defend to the death… and because of the nature of first impressions, no amount of context changes that impression.
People on Facebook don’t get to know each other – they get to know caricatures.
It’s easy to look at oneself in the mirror, and say “I know myself, I know what I like and don’t like, I know who I am,” and maybe that’s even accurate. The problem Facebook propagates is that the impressions formed by things people post on Facebook are perceived as being just as accurate as that self-image – thus, you might see my (hopefully) carefully worded statement advocating caution in judgement, and it becomes an erroneous impression that I defend actions that are, in the end, indefensible.
Those impressions are not accurate. They’re one piece in a puzzle that has two thousand other pieces. Even if that piece is horrifying (“I’m voting for Donald Trump!”) it doesn’t actually say all that much about someone – it’s just one piece of data among thousands. During the Cold War, the Russians loved their children, just as we loved ours.
Plus, people don’t seem to expect growth and self-examination on Facebook. I am not who I was ten years ago – some would argue that I’m barely who I was ten minutes ago. I have no problem saying “This is what I believe,” and learning from that point on. For example, I’m a libertarian – but people, including many libertarians, associate libertarianism with an advocacy of anarchy! So when I participate in a conversation, I see it as a conversation in a continuum, where I start from one position and may change over time, refining, rejecting, accepting points as they arise. But Facebook readers tend to not recognize that continuum and its potential for growth and refinement.
I also find that I tend to de-emphasize conflict where I can. When someone says “This sucks!,” my modus operandi tends to be to try to identify with the author (the one saying “this sucks”) and the objectified target. For example, when news first came out of a controversial family advocate’s hypocrisy, my stance was caution – we didn’t know what the terms used meant to the people involved.
For example, “Personicus Frankus had an affair!” might mean that Mssr. Frankus looked at a woman not his wife in a way that he would say was improper a la Jimmy Carter’s “adultery”, or it might mean that he had conducted actual relations with her… you know, the traditional meaning of “had an affair,” which Bill Clinton might have described as “not having sexual relations.” But to the people accusing Mr. Frankus, there was far more outrage at the potential hypocrisy – even though the actions he was accused of undertaking wouldn’t have offended any of them had he not publicly stood against them.
I understand both points of view; the hypocrisy bothers me, too. (A lot.) But at the same time, in America we advocate innocence until guilt is proven – and Facebook ignores the potential innocence.
It encourages clickbait, snap judgements, and purely emotional decision-making.
(I also find it humorous that someone who rushes to judgement in one post might then suggest empathy and understanding in the next post – “Those evil Republicrats are all going to Hell because they want to take away a label on fat content of cofferdams!”, and then “Can’t we all just get along? Look at these cute cats. I love everyone.” One can only presume that “everyone” doesn’t include those who disagree about labeling fat content of cofferdams.)
I’m tempted to filter Facebook quite a bit – spend a few days looking at who posts most often on my feed, and what they post. If their posts lack nuance or empathy, then I might remove them from the feed… but this strikes me as a really sad action to take, largely because the action itself lacks empathy.
I don’t want to protect myself from those around me. I want to be open and strong. I want to challenge myself to grow, and I can’t do that with a chorus of voices agreeing with me in unison. (With that, I only exacerbate my flaws. I don’t like my flaws. I want to get rid of them. I want to discover my weaknesses, and address them, not hide them.)
But at the same time, I find my agony, inspired by the travails and protests so easily lodged in public, is hardly endurable. I want to encourage collaboration and healing, maturation and empathy… and I feel like I’m one voice, whispering in a crowd of screamers. What frustrates me is that I have no choice; screaming for moderation is… uh… a flawed action. And refusing to stand up for moderation is irresponsible.
I hate interruptions. The funny thing is, though, that I interrupt people, too, so it’s a behavior that I despise while needing to work on it myself.
An interruption is a break in flow: while something is being done or said, hey, a squirrel!
It’s usually done by one person to another, though. (I interrupt myself all the time, and it’s just part of the natural flow of being.)
There are lots of reasons people interrupt each other – some are benign, some are not. They’re all annoying. My thought is: we can all do better, both as the ones being interrupted (sometimes there’s a good reason people interrupt me!) and as the ones doing the interrupting.
Most of the time, people interrupt others because they just don’t care about the person they’re interrupting. The target of the interruption might be working, or playing, or trying to explain something, or just thinking… and the interrupter seems to think, “What you are doing is not relevant to me, but I expect what I want to say or do to be relevant to you.”
If you’re this person, stop. Really. I’m begging you (and myself) to avoid interrupting someone, especially out of narcissism. What’s sad is that most of us interrupt in exactly this mindset, even if it’s not intentional or explicitly spelled out this bluntly in the narrative we tell ourselves.
Sometimes, though, an interruption is more well-meaning, even though it’s nearly impossible to be interrupted without resentment as a result. (Alliterative assault was accidental. Apologies.)
Sometimes the person being interrupted is taking a long time to say something, or do something, and the other person is trying to short-circuit the action for a specific effect.
For example, I record music, just for myself… and I usually intend to take fifteen or thirty minutes at a time to do it. But when I’m recording, time tends to lose meaning and definition, so I’m thinking “I’m ten minutes in,” and it’s actually been an hour and a half.
Then I get “interrupted” – mid-flow, often mid-recording – to find that dinner’s ready, or that I’m late for something. (Dinner, perhaps.)
The interruption is still annoying, honestly, but it’s deserved. My annoyance is misplaced. (And I know it, too; I tend to subvert that annoyance in moments.)
I could avoid the interruption by sticking to my own schedule, or by setting expectations. In conversation, I try to figure out what it is I have to say, and then I say it, directly, without a lot of explanation. The explanation, if necessary, can follow the point, just like an essay – “Here’s what I have to say, full stop. If you want more, I can give it to you.”
That way, even if I am interrupted, my point at least has a chance to be heard. (I usually don’t bother with the explanations anyway.)
It’s less fun to speak or write this way, I suppose; sometimes I like to hear myself talk, too, and sometimes I even like others to hear me, too, because it gives me the warm fuzzies to think that I and my opinion are valued by other people.
With that said: it’s also good practice. I write for public consumption, after all, and people scan rather than read, especially on the Internet – taking a long time to say something means that the “something” doesn’t get read.
On the Internet, you are “one and done” – if your first sentence isn’t enough, the second and third (and seventeenth) won’t matter.
None of this means that interruptions are pleasant, or that they say good things about the one doing the interrupting (or that the one being interrupted deserves it.)
Interruptions are, and will always be, impolite, even if there are circumstances under which they’re somewhat justified. Be aware of them.
(This public service announcement brought to you by Aveeno, which is the first thing I looked at after writing it – hey, a squirrel! Have you ever noticed how bright the color green can be when you measure it by…)
I hope my sons understand: when someone compliments an undertaking of theirs, that the compliment more often than not reflects the effort they’ve invested, and not the results. I hope their memories outlast mine, and I hope that their memory of me reflects more of what they needed me to be than I was able to provide.
I hope my sons understand: when someone compliments an undertaking of theirs, that the compliment more often than not reflects the effort they’ve invested, and not the results.
I hope that they, too, respect the endeavor and not the response.
I hope they always try.
I hope they always hope.
I hope they always dream.
I hope they always listen to that voice in themselves that cries when others cry, that laughs when others laugh, that marvels at the wonders around them… and wonders at the marvels around them.
I hope their memories outlast mine, and I hope that their memory of me reflects more of what they needed me to be than I was able to provide.