Sunday 31 July 2016

#160 Language reclaim

Don't tell me you're not a racist
Yes I know what that word means
It's obvious you don't throw bricks
through people's window screens
You're really quite a pleasant chap
and peaceful so I've heard
but I'd like to change the meaning
that attaches to the word

Let me give you an example
as that might help to explain
A cyclist has a racing bike
and takes it on the train
If he spots another rider
with a different coloured bike
it's unlikely he'll be violent
if it's one he doesn't like

Does a florist get aggressive
over different kinds of lilly?
No, that isn't what the word means
If it was, it would be silly.
Does a typist shout abuse
if something's not their favourite font?
I suppose it might be funny
and they can do if they want
but when recounting the tirade
I think it's better we resist
the urge to sum up their wrongdoing
with a small affix like "ist".

Now that's all well, I hear you say
but what instead then shall we use
when summarising a display
of inappropriate abuse
as if it's vital there exists
a word for this specific kind of hate
is it too hard to simply say
that criminal is not my mate?
Then leave the "ists" and "isms"
to mean what they elsewise would.
This might make our language clearer
at least I think that it could.

Saturday 16 July 2016

#159 Two beers and an orange juice

This week I met up with a friend of mine. Someone I've known for a good few years. It's the kind of friendship where I like her, I guess she thinks I'm ok, I don't really know. We'll message every now and then. Every so often I'll do something that pisses her off. We chat about it but then I'm wondering like, if we'll always be friends or if one day she'll decide she's had enough.

People ask me why I spend time with this person. Why do I do it? There are other people out there. If I wanted to. If I made the effort, I could probably find new people to hang out with. Why am I still hanging out with this person if it's up and down all the time?

So I say ok fine, what exactly is wrong with my friend? They might even suggest some things. They might say she's too feisty, cares too much about certain things, or that she just doesn't suit me that much. I say what if it's me that's the problem? Should I just try and hang out with new people anyway? What if I have the same problems? Besides I don't want to just go out there and try to make new friends, that takes effort, I don't want to spend my free time doing that.

If she's not the problem, if I'm the problem then there's no point. Building a friendship takes time. It means something. It's like an investment. That's what I tell them. That's what I tell myself.

This week when we hung out, I explained myself to her again, like I sometimes do. Why I did or didn't do something. What I think happened, to the extent that I could describe it. This time it feels like she actually listened to me. It doesn't make me right. It was a difficult discussion but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being listened to. Having a voice. Bringing my thoughts to the table.

She said to me but if I ever piss her off again, we're done.

So that was something that happened one evening this week.

Sunday 10 July 2016

#158 Um... A record, record, record

The Examined Life (2013) is a collection of short, entertaining stories compiled by a psychoanalyst. The stories are of real client cases, although they're anonymised.

The central theme of the book is that the reasons underpinning some of our most significant behaviours are sometimes so obscure and contrary to expectation that it can take months, or years of conversations with a trained professional to figure out what they really are.

Would the whole process be quicker if therapists gave their customers a book like this and told them to read it? I'm not sure but if someone who knew pretty much every one of my dirty little secrets started recommending reading material, I'd probably want to take a look. There are some people it's not helpful to offend.

Sometimes the professional realises quickly what the cause of the behaviour or feeling is. At other times, both parties are in the dark for a while until it becomes clear. Some cases are just failures.

A typical example would be a woman concerned about her relationship with her husband who simply won't stop causing her anguish. She seeks help and after months of dialogue, works out that the husband is in reality very attentive and she's been directing towards him all of her disappointment at the mischievous acts of her child, on whom she couldn't bare to place any blame due to the way she was treated in her own childhood.

While such a case might seem rather obvious when explained, it's worth noting that the signs can be quite subtle and that the average human mind is a tricksy little bugger. To pull ourselves together on one level, we'll often weave together a fabrication on another level, which on yet another level has very little robustness to it.

Rather than being a unique characteristic of the minds of those sufficiently troubled or curious to try to unravel it, I am almost certain that such complexity, or at least a degree of it, is much more commonplace. As Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Travelled, "Essentially everyone can benefit from psychotherapy if he or she is seriously willing to participate in the process".

Did you read that last part Mum, Dad, Seals, Ronan, Karen, Terry, Naino, Marc, Katie, Felicity, Fi, Keira, Lisa, Mark, Rich, Lisha, Liz, Tom, Rosela, all my other friends from home, school, the bus, uni and all my colleagues and extended family?