The Importance of Being Earnest

Earnest.

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No. Not that Earnest.

Earnest. Continue reading

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Our World Now

So we filled our cups to the brim with hatred. And we cast ignorance upon you if you didn’t agree. And with any misstep we wouldn’t bury you, but you felt six feet under. We’d take your job, your reputation, and – if an apology was granted – your soul as well. And you would be the cautionary tale that we would spin cycle in our 24 hour news coverage. And the pundits would bemoan your mistake, and assassinate your character, and impugn your very existence. Because we were right, and we always would be. And you would be wrong, and you would be evil, a relic of an ancient past full of pagan ritual and superstition.

Two Types

I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day (see: an ambiguous approximation of time ago), when I was struck by something not-so profound, but (all the same) important.

When it comes to talking about our problems, you can see someone else in two different ways. You either see a person with a problem, or you see a problem with a person.

A Problem with a Person

The problem-first type see the problem before they see the person. They may even cut off the person explaining their problem in order to ‘fix it’ right away. If you are this type of person, you might face these types of issues in relationships.

You cut people off before you really understand the problem.

You are so excited to solve the problem, that you forget you are listening to a living, breathing person, and they aren’t finished speaking. Most problems are not as simple as we want them to be. They aren’t black and white.

Remind yourself: Slow down. Let them finish. Address the human element of the problem.

Your friend doesn’t really want their problem solved.

This is probably the hardest part of seeing the problem first (or only seeing the problem) because sometimes people just want to vent about their problems and hear that someone empathizes with them. But you don’t like this sentiment. There is a problem and it needs solving. The person will only feel better if you solve it for them. But here’s the deal: their problem is usually solvable by them. Many times someone knows what they have to do, and they’re just looking for a sympathetic ear to acknowledge their issue.

Remind yourself: Listen to them first. Offer sympathy. Ask if they’d like help.

A Person with a Problem

While acknowledging a person is the more important part of any relationship, this type of person can also create unhealthy frustrations. With a tendency to over-protect a person or a relationship, the person-first type won’t address the problem or will sugarcoat in such a way as to prove unhelpful or – worse than that – destructive to the other person or relationship. Here are just a couple of situations where the person-first type can cause damage.

Your friend truly needs a solution.

So many times a friend comes to you seeking a solution, but you only go as far as sympathy for their plight. You don’t address their problem, nor offer any help in finding the solution.

Remind yourself: There is a problem here. If you truly care about your friend, coworker, family member then you will offer help.

You worry about hurting their feelings.

Sometimes (most times) we bring problems on ourselves. Everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes we get stuck in problems because of it. The person-first type has a harder time telling harsh truth because they care about the person first and the solution second, and they don’t want to harm their relationship.

Remind yourself: Everybody makes mistakes. Understand your relationship with the other person. If you have the kind of relationship which allows you to tell them the truth, listen thoughtfully and tell them like it is. Don’t dilute the truth to protect a friendship because you will inevitably exacerbate their problem and could inevitably ruin the relationship anyway.


If you see yourself in either of these two types of people, acknowledge it and move forward. Bear in mind that there are others out there just like you, and you can use your techniques on them just fine! They will probably enjoy it!

Also, if you see someone else is behaving as the opposite type to who you are, cut them some slack. Either way, they probably like you and are doing the best they can to be helpful. If it’s becoming a problem in your relationship, have a conversation about these different types.

And finally, if you are having relationship issues (work, home or otherwise) look at the other person and see if you have conflicting styles. If you make the effort to match what they like, it can have a great effect. It may even open up a conversation to see how you both can serve each other better.

Transitions

Dealing with a lot of transitions lately. I just finished the rough manuscript of my first
novel, so I’m transitioning into the edit process; and it’s proving to be a pain the ass.

written-byMy birthday is on the 20th, so I will be transitioning to age 32, which is just what it is at this point. Birthdays lack the excitement they use to. Probably because I only ask for the essentials from my folks anymore (“Can I get a grocery store gift card? Maybe Amazon? We need groceries… I need to order diapers…)

I am graduating from college in December, but with a full time job already (the same one I’ve held for 10 years) that transition doesn’t seem to be affecting me like it should. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be finishing my Bachelor’s degree in History, but it feels more

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You get me, Frodo.

like a tedious end to an obscenely long journey. It feels a bit like Frodo at the end of Return of the King; I just want it to be over already (so stop fading to black!).

 

 

I also just transitioned into fatherhood (you can follow me on Instagram @dafiker to see how that’s going – be warned: cuteness). It’s a rewarding experience, full of sleepless days and nights. It’s probably the most profound transition I’ve faced in my life, even more so than the transition into adulthood. Priorities change drastically. My mind seems to be hardwired for this change, as it appears completely out of my control. So, sorry I haven’t been writing in this blog lately (Oh, I forgot you don’t read it.), but I’ve been preoccupied with doctor visits, poops, sleeps (hers, not mine), and all the little intricacies of a newborn’s life.

If you are interested in seeing what my book will be, you can keep tabs on me by subscribing to this blog. But let’s not kid ourselves: you probably stopped reading this already and are looking at the baby pictures.

You Don’t Love Them

You don’t love them. You don’t. You think you do, but you don’t.

You love you. And maybe they love you. And you love that they love you. But you don’t love them.

For some reason, you think love is a noun. You say you are in love, as if it were a destination. This destination is a gelatinous amoeba, swallowing you whole, drowning out your logical mind with smothering indifference. “I’m in love. They make me so happy.”

Stop it. You make you happy, or you don’t. You can let how someone treats you initiate this reaction, but they do not control it. And the minute they do something that runs contrary to your happy button, you’ll be questioning the entire relationship. Just stop.

Love is a verb. It is an action carried out, regardless of reciprocation. And there is the rub. You love them because they love you. But love is an action. It is a deliberate choice to think about someone as much as you think about yourself, which is – to be honest – a lot. Love is being kind without expecting something in return, and love is definitely not just bouncing nice feelings back at someone else because they did it first.

Love is not oxygen. Love is sweat. It is the byproduct of hard work and exercise and action. Love ‘the noun’ is a product of laziness. It says, “Make me feel good. And if you don’t, I’m going to go somewhere else that will make me feel good.” Love ‘the noun’ is an addiction. So cut it out.

Assuming

I make assumptions. I connect things together, regardless of the validity of such connection. Like when I was a boy, I try to put the circle peg in the round hole. But sometimes, I try to put the square peg in the round hole; just to see. Really, that’s how I learn.

I used to make assumptions in my mind, and that would be it. But I’m bolder now. I’m bolder now because I found that when I speak my assumptions into the air, someone inevitably comes to contradict me.

People like to contradict. Correction: people like to be right. I like to be correct too, but I also like to learn. And when someone is contradicting me, they may feel better about being correct, but I feel even better than them. Because I learned something.

Writing is an exercise in assumption. When I write characters that differ from myself, I’m making assumptions. I’m guessing about how a character will make decisions, love others, talk to his boss, etc.

I also learn when people around me correct my writing. I learn something new about humanity, and – as an added benefit – something new about my characters and story. When I allow someone to make an observation, my view of the bigger picture gets just a little bit clearer, and I’m thankful for it.

But sometimes you’re wrong, and it’s painful to listen to your drivel.