February 25th, 2011
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A battle is raging inside me … it is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The old man fixed the children with a firm stare. “This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee replied: “The one you feed.”
February 23rd, 2011
Lately I’ve been noticing that a lot of the language I use when referencing myself can be a bit negative. It’s not that I say things to get a heartfelt affirmation from another person to hear how I’m the bee’s knees, but rather this behavior seems to be more of a speech pattern or linguistic tick than a casual diatribe. Sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m doing it until someone else calls me out on it. Often, regardless of the reaction, I feel embarrassed when it is noticeable enough for other people to mention it because when it is challenged I don’t have an answer as to why I said it other than a shrug and half-smile. Then the thoughts race: Why did you say that? Do you really think so? Where did that come from? Do I sound pathetic? Many people I know say things that put themselves down and usually it’s in the form of a humble joke. While it can be an honest opinion or habitual saying, it always catches my attention and makes me very curious about the connection (or lack thereof) between what we say and what we believe.
The idea is this: I’m going to spend some time trying to be aware enough of what I say so I can drop the adjectives out of the conversation before they leave my mouth. At first I thought about simply applying this to language revolving around myself, but then I decided to try and apply it to anyone I may feel an urge to say something about. The point is to play around with the possibility of seeing someone as they are and not attaching any sort of judgment or opinion – which is what an adjective essentially is. I’m also hoping that by catching myself whenever I want to describe someone, I will be able to give myself enough room to consider not only what it is I want to say or why I want to say it, but if I really do believe it. Am I really that dumb or am I just beating myself up over a small thing that has nothing to do with who I am? Does he really come off like an arrogant asshole or am I projecting my visceral insecurities onto his benign confidence? Are they really bad parents or am I avoiding the effort to see the entire picture in order to get on a soapbox? Is she lazy or does she simply do things in a different way than I prefer? All of these examples revolve around negative connotations because I have realized that I am much more mindless in my cynicism than I am in my praise. If anything this may make for a few awkward silences, which I always get a kick out of.
© Mayme Snow
February 21st, 2011
It is often customary whenever we meet another person, one of the first questions we ask is “What do you do?” I know this is a safe question because it keeps people at a distance while you can gauge any forecasts that may predict their interests, capabilities, social titles, values, education, or whatever else you think you may learn from their occupation. While I can appreciate a nice ice-breaker to make chit chatting less forced, I really have no interest in learning about what people do. Or, to make it clear, what they do to make money. There are so many different ways people support themselves that have nothing to do with who they are because earning a living is commonly determined by opportunity rather than preference (unfortunately).
So the idea is this: instead of asking people about their job, I am going to start asking “What do you like?” I know this is a simplistic yet loaded question, but that’s what makes it experimental because you cannot predict how this will register to someone else or how they may respond. Their minds may jump to food, hobbies, entertainment, people, places, or the “What do you mean what do I like?” pause of suspicion. They may even talk about their job. Whatever the answer, the whole point is to make communication more genuine and personable while avoiding the habit to assume.
© Mayme Snow
February 19th, 2011
Surviving trauma isn’t easy. I was once told by a therapist that having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was in essence like living with a terminal disease. It sounds very dramatic, I know, but it makes sense. People who have violent things happen to them are forever altered and there is simply no going back to who you used to be. Not only do we have to reconcile how to exist in a world whose reality can be very extreme due to the memories and other long-term effects of our experience, there’s also the exhaustive reckoning that forces us to wrestle with our exposure to a side of human nature that may challenge everything we’ve ever understood about justice, respect, safety, morality, or god. » Read the rest of this entry «