Saturday, December 07, 2013

Winter's Turning

Still arching toward Christmas, the winter glows with warmth and radiant whiteness (as seen from my heated vantage point). The snow remains pure and the decorations fresh and clean. We're still weeks away from the post-Xmas-and-New-Year's hangover. After the expectation of the holidays has been fulfilled, we start down the far side of winter, the descent into mind-numbing cold, dirty snow and the stubborn death-grip of King Boreas that refuses to yield to Spring. He is a receding glacier whose fingers grudgingly give way to life, slowly shrinking until they end in skeletal points.

But winter won't make that turn for four weeks. It hasn't yet worn out its welcome. After New Year's though, winter loses its raison d'etre. Once the gifts have been exchanged and the New Year toasted, the season suffers a severe loss of focus and meaning. It devolves into a cruel cosmic endurance test, punishment handed down by the gods in their haughty caprice. Although, to be honest, my love of winter barely registers the change. I enjoy the frozen wastes of the early year, free of social obligations and fellow pedestrians. Solitude is abundant even in the heart of the city. The outdoors become the exclusive domain of the hearty and determined.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Chip on My Shoulder

I realize now that I've been living with a chip on my shoulder. Every situation has been entered with the baggage of past grievances for which the other people involved would have to atone. Or I would "graciously" forgive them for those trespasses, which they did not commit nor even had any knowledge of. It's amazing how much pain from old wounds I projected onto their words and deeds. Anytime their behavior fell short of my expectations, I would imagine it was motivated by antipathy of me or malevolence.

I've always considered myself the underdog. This sense was deeply imprinted by the bullying I experienced in elementary and (especially) middle schools. I absorbed the idea of myself as a fat nerd and am still trying to uproot that self-image from my psyche. One problem with this mindset is that I used it to justify my own antisocial behavior. Because I thought I'd been a doormat in most situations, I didn't feel the need to say "excuse me" when squeezing by someone at the grocery store. Any of those daily scenarios that call for courtesy often inspired resentment in me. "Why should I show others consideration when I've been shown so little?"

But this is clearly no way to live in society. Eventually, I had to deal with the true source of my resentment. For me, this was my parents. We've come a long way in repairing our relationship, and I've been able to shed much of my ancient anger. This isn't meant to imply that the kids who picked on me were innocent, but they were kids like me and therefore largely not responsible for their behavior.

In my opinion, the truly guilty party is Society. The bullies were created and allowed to bully because of socioeconomic conditions. I would say even the need to reconcile with my parents was motivated by societal factors. The fact that all my best post-college friends either moved away or stopped calling me back probably owes something to the economy and government social policy.

Of course, I can't sit down for a chat with Society to work out my issues with it. Nor can I depend on my local community to provide essential emotional support. That was a luxury of past eras, but it seems to have been lost. I have to count on my parents and friends to help me through the rough patches. Before reconnecting with my parents and finding friends I can rely on, I really struggled. My point is that we should work to rebuild community and social services to help people who don't have dependable family or friends. This would also improve the chances of having family and friends who are dependable.