(Note: Not all references in this post will make sense to all people.)


No, not angry. Frustrated. Upset.

When I get frustrated and angry and upset, it's typically (maybe even always) directed inwards, at myself, because I've learned that lashing out at other people tends to make them hit you back, which ends with two people who've been hit. So you (metaphorically) thrash yourself, which has the same end effect, only without the other person nursing wounds (and maybe a grudge) to boot.

And if they see you've already been bashed down pretty well, they likely won't shoot you down even more, especially if they see the self-inflicted beatdown doesn't make much of a difference (in that you do exhibit a pain reaction, but you're fine with it). And in either case, they're more likely to not be mad.

Sometimes when folks get mad, they go off and get mad at other people afterwards, and the ripple effect of destruction marches forth. If you keep diving in front and trying to be a buffer to absorb that kind of stuff, at least the ripples just bounce around inside you. The self-deprecating overgrown puppy persona is useful to keep that from stabbing in too far.

And then when you stop doing this, the equilibrium is disturbed and you feel guilty because you could go back to that old role and stop it. But if you keep soaking it up, you can't move on and do better things with yourself. How do you gauge what "better" is? If you row a lifeboat towards the larger, closer group of swimmers and leave a tiny group stranded in the far-off waves (hoping maybe someone else will save them, knowing maybe nobody will) - is it possible to both do the right thing and still have guilty blood on your hands, and to learn to live with that?

Also: I'm a person. I need to learn to become a better one, but this is very different than having to learn to become one in the first place. I do care about people and have relationships with them - maybe not the romantic type that generates things like great-grandchildren, but it's not like more platonic love ever hurt the world.

I'm fiercely loyal and have this thing for diving in front of someone else's bullet (usually without letting them know). I'm trying to learn how to duck. I think the compromise I'll work out is learning to yell at everyone else to duck, waiting to make sure everyone else is down, and then ducking myself, or making the dive if not everyone else gets down in time. (So people, get the hell down.)

Came across a phrase from Cuban culture, which is also strongly family-based - a person who (against the wishes of family) went into social work was described as "a light that projects outside the house, not inside." It was said as if it were a terrible thing. But if you can shine brighter and reach more people by shining out the window, then - isn't that a tradeoff that's worth making? Even if you get yelled at for not shining at all, and can't find a way to show that you are, but just in a different direction? (I've now mangled the metaphor beyond all understanding.)

When I'm with people, I try to actually be with them. I can't be in more than one place at once, so if I'm not somewhere, it doesn't mean I don't care; it means I'm not there because I'm somewhere else and actually being there.

And when I'm with people but not really with them, I try to go away so they're not troubled by my non-present presence. (This is why I'll often slip off and become impossible to find, or walk a while ahead, or scoot into the corner with a book.) Sometimes I get tired too. Sometimes I need to rest by myself for a while. I have to recharge by myself until I'm at the level where I can (often with some difficulty) recharge and take comfort in the presence of someone else - an act that's usually more comforting to the comforter (because they feel needed) than to me (because I've already pretty much gotten it worked out, and just need someone to validate and confirm that things are okay now).

To some extent, I link affection and love with possession and the erosion of freedom. If you hug me, it's great and I appreciate the sentiment, but it also restricts my range of physical motion.

Sometimes when folks complain, I want to turn around and scream god damn it people, do you realize how bloody lucky you are? and at the same time acknowledge they have every right to be pissed at whatever they're pissed about. I haven't found a way to do both at the same time yet, so I just do the latter.

So I'm angry now, mad at myself for getting sucked into this story, which allows me to get mad at myself (yes, I'm upset that I'm upset). Mad that I keep falling into this train of thought and have to expend energy clawing myself out, mad because when I become mad I am much less effective at being able to prevent other people from getting mad - mad because I don't understand and don't like this way of looking at the world.

Mad because in this mentality I can't save "the world", or a subset of it I'd be content with, even if I put every ounce of myself into it in such a way that I was destroyed and consumed in the process. Some things - precious few, mind you - are worth giving yourself for, but there's no point if it won't make any difference. Sometimes it's harder to live if you live in such a manner that you allow yourself to actually be alive.

I am, however, a masochist. And life is pretty darn wonderful. And it's also fun, even in the middle of the sting of it.

Stitching together and sustaining an vision hard enough so that it's a solid reality that's always existed - it's draining work, but well worth it. I think doing a startup is like that, in part. I'm not very good at holding a vision firm enough for other people to walk around in yet. It requires a depth of concentration I'm still raw and wobbly at.

I need to learn better how to let other people pick up the edges of the vision and help hold it up and tack on their own rooms, banners, poles, designs, light fixtures, pour foundations under that castle in the air (floating by dint of sheer mental will and an utter ignorance of gravity's existence). Holding up that castle makes me out of breath, and shouting takes some oxygen and effort, and I should do it anyway.

(What the hell? I can't write blunt and direct statements tonight. I'm talking circles and parables around the things I actually want to say.)

I'm tired. I'm going to go to bed. It's better now, and my eyes and limbs are heavy enough to lie still long enough for my mind to sleep. Maybe I'll talk with people about this in the morning, or maybe sleep will let it percolate enough through my system that I won't have to.

I'll sleep now, and we'll see when I wake up.