Thursday, August 29, 2013


When I was a kid
Stories told of buried treasure
Gold, jewels
That's not what treasure is

Treasure is
People who value what I have to offer
People who let me help them
People who make time for me
Because they want me to be part of their lives

Treasure is
People who delight in my company
Who enjoy me as I am
Rather than trying to help and advise  me
Into who they think I ought to be

And treasure is
The serenity and freedom of solitude
Time outdoors in beautiful weather
The touch of the breeze
The company of trees
Gazing at the water

Treasure is music
Treasure is dance

Treasure is freedom from poverty
From violence and oppression
From pollution and poisons

Treasure is not something that can be possessed
We make choices about how to spend our time
And what to turn away from
We can choose whether to walk away from treasure
Or embrace it

But we can't hold onto it
Can't make it stay forever and always
Treasure is fleeting
Treasure is a gift
Treasure it when it comes
Let it go when it goes
Another treasure will come again

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A day to turn strengthen roots

There was a party today.  A summer barbecue with some people I like.  I had been planning to go every since the party was announced about a month ago.  I did not go.

The past week was the busiest week of the year at my job. Usually I work around 40 hours a week.  This week I worked about 60.  My weekends have been full.  I went on two trips in July and two trips in June.

I have been living in the branches, in activity, in the stimulating external world.

Time to deepen the roots, so that my branches will have a strong foundation, so my branches won't be easily toppled.

Today was spent in the quiet of home.  Today was spent sorting through some of the clutter strewn about my house.

Bit by bit, turning chaos toward tranquility.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer slips away

Summer slips away.  I have spent so little time doing the things I like to do in summer.

So little time sitting on my balcony.
So little time hanging my laundry up to dry outside, so it smells good.
So little time wandering among the leafy green trees.
So little time rollerblading.
So little time at outdoor concerts.
So little time in a boat.
So little time by the shore.  Shore of lake, river, ocean, whatever I can find.
So little time feeling the soft grass upon my bare feet.
So little time having lunch on the hill.

Instead, it rained. Instead, it was so hot that I felt like crying whenever I stepped out of air conditioning.  Instead, I went on trips. Instead I went to parties.  Instead, I was painfully exhausted.

The trips and parties were good.  I chose to do them.  But there is only so much that can fit in one summer.

There's tired, and there's beyond tired

There's tired, and there's beyond tired.

Tired is when you do something and then afterwards it feels good to rest.

Beyond tired is when you are so tired it hurts.

Beyond tired is when you are so tired you just want to curl up in a ball and whimper.

Beyond tired is when it hurts so much that it's hard to sleep.

Beyond tired is when despair hits.

No one is there for me. No one will ever like me because I'm too much of a misfit.  I have nothing to offer the world.  No one wants to be with me. No one wants to help me.

These are the despondent feelings that come upon me when I am beyond tired.

"You're just depressed.  You should get out more."

No, it was getting out more that made me beyond tired, and being beyond tired that made me despondent.

I escape into fiction, trying to anesthetize myself until I'm able to sleep.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Instruction manual, version 2

As you can see from all the griping in my recent posts, lately I have been upset about people who tell me what I should do and how I should feel.  I recalled that four years ago, someone said there should be an instruction manual for how to get along with me, so I wrote one in my blog.  I looked back at it today, and found that what I wrote then is pretty much the same thing I would say now. I find that reassuring, that there's some consistency in who I am, that what I have been feeling lately is not just some strange whim.

Looking back at the instruction manual though, I wanted to make some edits.  I did make some tweaks to my post from four years ago, but then I found that I wanted to make more substantial edits.  Therefore, I decided to leave the four year old post with just the few tweaks, and to re-write it now.

Now I am focusing on shortening it, and focusing especially on how I want to be treated.  The previous version had a chunk about what brings me joy.  That too is something to be focused on, and that too is something that has remained pretty consistent for years.  However, at this particular moment, I want to zero in on the parts about how I want to be treated and how I want to relate to others.

I do not expect that anyone will ever take this instruction manual in hand and try to abide by it.  I write it for me, because if I can clarify for myself what it is that I want, maybe it will help me to better manage my relationships with others.
  1. Don't tell me to cheer up, or that I should not be upset about something.  If something bothers me, respect the fact that it bothers me.
  2. Don't tell me what to do. Conveying some useful facts can be acceptable at times, but don't tell me that I'd be happier if I spent more time doing a particular thing. Your advice on how to reform myself is not what will help me blossom. Instead:
  3. You help me blossom just by listening to me and believing in me. When you point out my strengths, that helps those strengths to blossom.
  4. Value what I have to offer.  Let me help you.  Partner with me to help others.
  5. I know my flaws. When you accept me for who I am, you give me space to work on correcting them. When you criticize me, I flare up on the defensive, which does not leave me room to grow.
  6. I might not know all my flaws, or all the ways that I might hurt you, so if I do something that bothers you, just inform me that it bothers you and trust me that I'll try to fix it, rather than yelling at me for doing it.
  7. Any subtle hint that I did something wrong or that you don't like me I'm likely to pick up on even if it's subtle.
  8. Although I want you to be kind when criticizing and rejecting, in general, it is better to be direct and open, even if it is clumsy.  I don't like smooth and charming. I don't like when you beat around the bush.  
  9. Listen.  For me it's a waste of time to talk to people who are not interested in listening to me.  
  10. Be responsive to how other people feel. Back off when you bother someone.
  11. Although it's true that it's disrespectful to talk endlessly about topics that don't interest me, or to tell me things that will hurt me, on the other hand, keep in mind that I am flattered when you choose share your thoughts, feelings, and interests with me, even though they might not be the same things I would be interested in. I want to know who you are, even though that includes parts that are different from me.  When you choose not to share something with me, you are shutting me out of a part of you.
  12. At the same time, I do respect that there are some things that you don't want to talk about.  As I get to know you, I'll make note of the topics you don't like to talk about, and I'll stay away from them.
  13. If you want to know what I think about something, ask.
  14. If I don't agree with you, that does not mean that my understanding or intelligence is lacking.  
  15. If you tell me I should do something (read a certain book, engage in a certain activity) that may decrease my interest in doing it, because I want to make my own choices. However if you tell me that you like something, that may increase my interest in it.
  16. Don't talk about what morons other people are. It's okay to talk about how much they annoy you, because that's about your own feelings.
  17. The measure of a person is their compassion, respect, and integrity. I don't measure you by your lifestyle, habits, quirks, prestige, etc.
  18. Don't think that you are better than other people. Don't think you deserve a high salary because you worked so hard to get where you are.
  19. Live a life of conscience, and understand that I also live a life of conscience, even though our consciences may lead us down different paths. Strive to be the best person you can be, and support me as I strive to be the best person I can be.
  20. If I invite you to do something and you don't want to do it, just say no.  Don't clutch at straws in a desperate attempt to find an excuse.  When you clutch at straws, what I hear is that you're lying to me, and that you are desperately trying to evade me.  
  21. If you are done being friends with me, then go.  I deserve to be with people who cherish and respect me.  If you keep hanging around for fear I'll be devastated by your departure, stop being so full of yourself and just go.  It may be helpful to tell me in a tactful way that you are departing, so that I can adjust my expectations accordingly.

How to help people

How do you help people?

Plan A

  1. Explain to them what they should do to fix their problems.
  2. Explain to them that they should not be upset but instead should be grateful for all that they have.
Plan B
  1. Listen.
  2. Enjoy their company.
  3. Ask how you can help.
  4. Offer to do tasks  that burden them.
  5. Appreciate what they have to offer.

Based on they way people behave, it seems that most people think that Plan A is the correct way to help people. I would prefer that people would follow Plan B.  To me, Plan A should be titled not "How to Help" but "How to Hurt."  However, when you try to explain to people that you prefer not to be on the receiving end of Plan A, they become indignant and outraged, saying, "I was only trying to help."  If I don't appreciate being on the receiving end of Plan A, they view me as ungrateful.  

Humans have wills of their own

Imagine if objects were out of your control. Playing chess, you put a piece down, but it slides to another square.  Cleaning house, you empty the dustpan into the wastebasket, but the next day, you find the dust has climbed out and traipsed about the house.  Cooking dinner, you find that the peppers you chopped to add to the onion have jumped into the cookie dough instead.

We expect objects not to move around of their own volition.  Apparently, some people have extended this attitude to other people.  The parent who gives his adult son advice which the son does not follow complains to me, "He never changes."

Indeed, he doesn't change because he is himself.  He is not going to become a chess piece moved by his father's will.

Many of the people I see who are miserable seem to have a sense of frustration and impotence over the fact that they are not in control of other people's behavior.

I feel that frustration because I can't stop people from telling me what I should do and how I should feel.  At least all I want to control is how they treat me.  I don't want to control what they do with their own lives.

There's an administrator where I work whose method of operating is to yell at people and force them to say, "I was wrong, I'll do better next time" before he will grant the approval that needs to be granted.  He does that especially when it's clear that the mistake was his.

To me, that is impotence.  He is incapable of working collaboratively with people.

A group of people all with individual volitions may choose to come together and choreagraph a dance in which all their individual volitions come together into making something larger than themselves.

He does not have the ability to do that, so he resorts to trying to control people like they are chess pieces.

Anyone who tries to control people like they are chess pieces is setting himself up for frustration and failure.  You can work with others, or you can work alone, but you cannot expect others to be without wills of their own.

Refuge from yapping

If I could do magic, I would stop all those people yapping at me, telling me what to do, how to feel, demanding my attention.

Well, not all the time.  If someone feels they need to say something to me, they can have their chance.

It will be like office hours.  One hour a day allotted for those who need to yap at me.  Rest of the time, zip it.

I go home.  My refuge. Peace. No more people yapping at me.

I can do magic after all.  I made a place where no one can yap at me.  I am creator of my peace.