A Divided Mind on the 4th of July

I find it kind of amusing that our country celebrates its birthday by blowing shit up, considering our foreign policy as of late.  When I was in Chicago there were so many fireworks going off that it sounded like a warzone.  I even saw a member of our entourage duck at one point because it was so loud it sounded like gunfire.  I couldn’t half blame him.  These weren’t fireworks that you could see, but just loud bangs going off at regular intervals with occasional whistling sounds like incoming.  I remembered the story of Devil’s Den from growing up near Gettysburg. 

The next day I read an article about how fireworks are bad for people with asthma, frighten dogs and other animals, and kill birds.  Nothing like a grand old tradition brought low.  

As one grows older and learns more you must develop the ability to live with a divided mind.  Or to put it another way, you must learn to be selectively crazy.  What did Slade sing about us all being crazy?

I was at a cookout recently in which I was there on a professional level.  Being that I am not a vegetarian could I enjoy the roasted pig knowing that pigs are as smart as dogs?  When one of the males made a crude comment about all the wives present, without any wit or knowing absurdity, should I just shrug it off or comment that he sounded like a dumbass? 

The show Curb Your Enthusiasm is so brilliant because Larry David so often says the things that we often want to, but manners and politeness keep us from doing so.  There are no easy answers.  So much of modern life is absurd that we must often choose the best path out of many bad ones.  It reminds me of a quote at the beginning of the Anthony Newley song Maladjusted: “On this glorious occasion of the splendid defeat.”

I Don’t Care What People Say Behind My Back

One thing I have never cared about is if people talk behind my back.  I just assume at some point that friends or even loved ones are going to say something negative about me when I’m not around.  It’s human nature.  A lot of people worry about this kind of thing, but not me!  Let them talk away.  No one is going to like everything you do, even if you are always trying your best.  To blow off steam at some point they are probably going to need to get something off of their chest.  I’ve probably been called every name in the book when I’m not looking.  But if I don’t know it happened, to me it never existed.

Now I’m not talking about people plotting something behind your back like stealing your girlfriend or preparing a practical joke of some kind.  Those are things that you might one day have to deal with.  Also, if there is something that I’m really doing that bothers someone, and I am unaware of it, I would hope that they would be honest and make me aware of it.  But again, I’m just talking about the good old human nature of shit talking and blowing off steam.

All that really matters is how people treat you.  In the realm of interpersonal relationships it is action that counts.   How many times have you had to go to some event for a friend that you just didn’t want to?  Probably while you were driving there you said something like, “Why the fuck did Bobby have his birthday party on a Tuesday!  Doesn’t that dumbass know that I have to be at work tomorrow?”  But Bobby has been a good friend overall so you soldier on despite how you feel.  Does making that negative comment negate the fact that in the end you did the right thing?  I don’t feel that it does.  In the end you burned off some of your negative energy, made your friend happy, and all is well, with your friend being pleasantly ignorant that his event put you out.  All people put us out at times.

When I was in Japan everyone smiled at me and was very outwardly kind towards me.  You find yourself smiling back even if you aren’t really in the mood.  These people could have been calling me a dumb American behind my back, but the way they treated me made me feel welcome even if I wasn’t.  In turn I was kind to them.  In some ways the action became the reality that was taking place, even if people were thinking different thoughts.

I’m not necessarily talking about being fake.  If you hate someone you might be polite, but you definitely don’t need to kiss their ass.  But often our emotions towards someone are complex.  We have friends that we love, but they do that one thing that drives us crazy.  As people we want that person to know that we love them, but we also might need to vent about what they are doing to someone else so that we aren’t mean to them in a way that they might misinterpret as being something more than a casual annoyance.  Again, human interactions are complicated!

So as long as people are nice to me I’m happy.  They can say whatever the fuck they want when I’m not around.  I’m a realist.  I expect that kind of thing to happen from time to time.  If I never find out about it, it is just taking place in some parallel dimension that I will never enter.