Graham

Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Have You Ever Noticed?

In life on March 2, 2009 at 8:19 pm

… how two people can meet for the first time, disagree on almost everything, and go their separate ways, each inflexibly convinced that they are in possession of absolute and immutable truths, each thinking the other a bit stupid, and each believing that what they have disagreed about is among the most important issues of their lives.

Stranger still, if those same two people are thrown together again after the passage of time they often continue the argument, but now on opposite sides of the same issue, unaware of the influence each has had on the other. Usually, neither recognizes the fundamental issue; more likely, each immediately seeks out friends who re-enforce what each already believes (and is miserable if none are available).

This is as true of scholars, teachers and their students as it is of garbage collectors or children. One can be intellectual in private, but one has a vested interest in a world-view when in public. And if either is persuaded to the other point-of-view they honestly think it has been theirs all along.

A variation on this theme: sometimes an individual sees the argument of your enemies most clearly until he and that enemy have a falling out, at which time he begins to realize how cogent your argument was. Suddenly you were right all along, but “I just didn’t see what you were getting at.” He honestly believes you were both always in accord, but that you both were tripped up by that old nemesis, Mr. “Semantics.”

Still another variation: sometimes the individual is compelled to defend everything issued forth from his own lips simply because he said it (without waiting for further data, or in heated argument, or foolishly because he was tired, hungry, or perhaps not feeling so well), though a wiser man would chalk it up quickly to a temporary mental aberration, recognizing that given the right conditions, all men are fools.

One last variation: if the same two people are of different sexes, they very often see the other in the disagreement phase as somewhat unattractive, if not downright ugly. But as their positions merge and they discover that they “were in agreement all along,” each seems more attractive than the first time they met. Unchanging physical features suddenly change right before our eyes!

Copyright © 1971, 2009 by Tad Laury Graham

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Life Is a Quarrel for Independence

In life on February 25, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Life is a quarrel for independence. It is an attempt to free oneself from the domination of our programming, which we never fully achieve. Programming is all around us: parents, teachers, friends, peers, clergy, and many others have this influence over us. Without it, we would never feel confident about a chosen course of action for the vast majority of issues, even though so many of these issues are essentially repetitive. To avoid endless debate, we simply play the program that seems most relevant.

The danger is not so much that we will play the wrong program, in the wrong context, or at the wrong time—yielding an unacceptable result. In most cases we can simply apologize and try again. The danger comes from the association of each member of our particular set of programs with evaluations or criticisms of how effective they are, or more likely how ineffective they are.

If a parent criticizes everything a child says or does, without offering a method for constructive change, the program continues to play each time the situation occurs, but the child has no confidence in the learned response. Hence the child is reticent to share an opinion, and remains flawed—usually reflected as the absence of the ability to engage in “small talk.”

Life is fatalistic without external influences. These influences are required to bring about changes in our programs; for example, the transition from a child’s view to an adult view. We all have motivational forces within: forces when discovered that free us to some degree from a basically reactionary level—even though we never become completely free from habitual reactions. Such is the snare of fatalism.

However, if we understand why we do things, even if we continue to do them, we gain another degree of freedom because awareness is the first step in reinventing ourselves, and because the doing part of this process is not nearly the problem that the critique is. What must be overcome is the judgement that you are inferior. Learn to apologize, to begin again, and to let go of the past.

False change generally backfires. We can do what we want to make it look like we’ve changed, externally, but whenever we do, we most likely find that we don’t like that person that we are becoming because it isn’t really us. When this happens, learn to apologize, to begin again, and to let go of the past.

Finally, fame makes awareness difficult because fame goes to the head—whether fame is already present or only sought after. Fame is generally associated with expectations for consistent behaviors, which serve to distract and derail. It requires considerable personal investment to change what is cast in stone. Fame exacts a high price. The more famous you become, the more change costs in personal sacrifice: apologize, begin again, let go. The more you do, the sooner you will become you.

Copyright © 2009 by Tad Laury Graham

Blogging is Supposed to be an Exchange of Ideas

In life on February 22, 2009 at 3:02 am

At least, that’s what I was told when someone suggested I take it up. Makes sense: who wants to listen to the lone self-appointed guru, composing and handing down the ten tablets from Mount Sinai—especially when it has already been done, and lets face it: Moses is a tough act to follow. Riding the ego-train, telling ourselves that we have all the answers or at least most of them, that gets old, too, doesn’t it? Sometimes I think we do as much damage as good in trying to deal with some of life’s issues … I know I have.

Maybe I should change my focus and talk about all of my screw-ups in life, but somehow I’m not sure that would be of any more interest than my successes, although sometimes I do wonder. It’s amazing to me that my “about the author” page has had twice as many hits as the most popular blog I have written. I don’t know what that’s about, but I suspect that at least a few of us are trying to figure out who this idiot is, and why he thinks he might have something to say that is even remotely worth listening to?

I guess I don’t blame anyone for that but myself. I wrote it. I suspect that it requires at least a pint or two of Guinness to make me even moderately interesting. And any more than four would put me over the side with an excuse, but nobody wants an excuse. My guess is most just want to be heard even when they know they aren’t saying anything. Honestly, six or eight billion people (or whatever the world population has become) can’t be all wrong. There just aren’t that many new ideas, folks, so it must be something else.

Well, I guess I’m no closer to the truth, such as it is, nor perhaps to even basic understanding, but I do know this: every once in a while I ring somebody’s bell out there, not realizing the impact that something I wrote has had on them. Sometimes it seems to be helpful and sometimes it appears to be harmful, owing to significant diversity in backgrounds, influences, and needs that each of us have. I don’t always get it until it’s too late, but I would rather you tried to explain it to me than to live with a mistake that could have been avoided.

You don’t have to listen, or waste your time responding, I can get used to that … that’s one of the great things about America. But if you do listen, before you think you have received the “answer”—from anyone, especially when you are about to make a major decision based on that answer—before you commit, this would be the one time that you must push back. Question my reasoning or lack thereof, and get a firm understanding of what I (or anyone) said. It’s your life and your decision because you have to live with the fallout. And the bigger the decision, the more important it is for you to get the best information you can.

That’s it … nothing particularly earth-shattering. But if you ever listen to anything I say, this would be the time.

P.S., – I guess it’s easier to have that exchange if I remember to enable comments. My apologies; it is on now …

Copyright © 2009 by  Tad Laury Graham