Wednesday, September 07, 2005

My Favorite Paradox

I’ve been watching and listening to people for a very long time. It’s been a necessity because all y’all got some sort of secret Social Skills handbook that I didn’t get. Maybe I lost it along with my library card, my itchy green stocking cap and my Malibu Barbie. I’ve recently learned that a lot of people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) believe that everyone else has some secret book or special knowledge about how to get along in the world. Even though it’s a goofy notion, I’m a little relieved to know that I’m not alone in that belief. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been trying to figure out how other people know the myriad of social rules and norms without seeming to try. I’ve had to watch closely to learn how to deal with the simplest social situation. Sometimes it appears as if I’m shy. Most often, I’m being cautious and paying attention until I learn all the rules before I leap in. Even in my ripe middle age, some of my skills are still rather clumsy and awkward.

Over the years an interesting thing has happened. All of my watching and listening has afforded me a unique perspective on people. For the most part, I’ve come to really like them and find most of them to be goodhearted and well-intentioned at their core. Even the ones who act like a complete horse’s ass usually have something good buried underneath.

Overall, people are really fascinating. When I pay attention and listen, I hear some captivating stories. People love to talk about themselves. If I respond with a nod, an empathetic grunt and an inquisitive eyebrow raise, they’ll tell me almost anything. I’m not on a hunt for buried secrets or hushed confidences. That’s not the point. It’s learning about the uniqueness of each of us that makes the sharing so rich and fulfilling.

The very best lesson I’ve learned through all of my watching and listening is about what makes us the same. No matter who we are, or where we come from, the one thing we share is our emotions. There’s not a single feeling that we’ve had that countless others haven’t experienced before. They may not share the same exact circumstances, but the feeling is the same nonetheless.

If you’ve ever seen the Grand Canyon, you understand the feeling of awe and wonder. Those who’ve lost a Love understand the bitter pain of heartbreak. Anyone who’s waited up half the night for a wayward teenager who’s three hours late for curfew, knows what it’s like to worry … and then when that rotten kid does walk through the door, you’re so happy to see the little shit you could slap him/her (or is that just me?).

I Love the ways we are different and unique. I even Love the ways I’m different and unique. At the same time, there’s a great comfort in knowing we are all connected together by a very powerful common emotional understanding. We can never really be alone because of it.

You are unique and special just like everybody else.


At 3:21 AM, Blogger Sen said...

I think you're totally right on. It's amazing how much we can absorb from a simple conversation with another person. However, I feel that there is a de-emphasis on listening and observing in this country. It seems that the better you speak, the smarter and more experienced you are, even if garbage is coming out of your mouth. How are we supposed to learn from others if our mouths are always moving? But yes, I like your point about us all being connected. The interesting thing is though we all share basically the same emotions, it's different and unique to each person. I don't think any two people view love in the same way. At this point I personally attach dependency and inevitable heartbreak to it.. but that's another story. That's all I wanted to say... I do like this journal entry.. that's why I had to comment on it.

At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Dating Blog said...

I agree, people are fascinating. No need to read fiction, non-fiction is more than enough

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Ron Southern said...

Hello, Good Heart! Of course, some of us become CIA agents and murder people without prejudice, but that's one of those government secrets. You're probably more on the right track, though.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger ZooooM said...

Yup. Amazing as always.

I don't know if I have ADD, but I've always said "my mom forgot to teach me that stuff."
I'm told I look like a total bitch until one gets to know me. Thing is, I'm just protecting myself - and I'm horribly near sighted without the specs. I'm horribly shy, but once I'm comfy, all the sillyness flies. Sometimes people still back away. And that's ok.

People watching - that's good stuff. But you, you have mastered living in the colonies and reporting from the front lines. I like that. I tend to keep my distance.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Sen - Thank you for your comment. I think you're right about the de-emphasis on listening and observing. I've noticed that when people are engaged in conversations instead of listening to the other person, they are thinking about what they are going to say next, and eagerly waiting for their next opportunity to speak. Perhaps it's a reflection of how much each of us needs to be heard and understood. Maybe that's why blogging works so well. We can't interrupt one another during a conversation.

Dating Blog - The best stories are true life stories from the source.

Ron - There are those amongst us who are nasty, but most of us are plain ol ordinary folks doing the best we can.

Zoooom - People who know me well never believe me when I say that I'm shy. It usually cracks them up. If you're interested in learning more about ADD, I've edited the text to add a link. Click on the words Attention Deficit Disorder, and it will take you to another post that has a bunch of information and a lot of other links in the comments section.

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost feel pollyanaish when I suggest that people actually are good. But, basically, they are.
There is a problem, though. Good people are frequently used by bad systems to suppor bad causes. In that, we all get stained whether we want to be or not. Helping the good people stand up to the bad system is a challenge sometimes because they're convinced the system is misunderstood.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Opaco said...

my number one complaint with a lot of people that i meet, well actually, that i know, is that they don't listen. when you listen to other peoples conversations you hear statements being thrown at each other. it seems as though they are on two different topics and believe that theirs' is the more important one.
it's hard to talk to some people. they just don't listen. my sister was like that. i'd call to talk to her about whatever and she would change the subject immediately when i took a breath to whatever she wanted to tell me about.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Jay said...

I've always thought I missed that day in class too.


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At 2:39 AM, Blogger Clark K. said...

People don't really seem unique to me. But that may be because I'm like you, I listen and observe, so I tend to understand easier. But it could also be because society encourages conformity.

The part about learning the rules of society sounds very similar to my own situation, only I think I've gone the opposite way. I've learned to not like people in general, and I sure as hell don't want to learn their rules and be like them.

I'd rather be my own person.

At 4:07 AM, Blogger Monty said...

I think i need a dose of ADD, and I'd also like to borrow your glasses. You are much more socially adept than I will ever be. One day, I'd like to just sit and listen to you.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Maverick said...

Hey, thanks for coming by and writing, the worrying, and the big hug. !!! I'll be around later. Here's something for you

Spitting in a Wishing Well

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Maverick said...

I didn't get that book either. And, let me tell you, I'm actually kind of pissed about it.

Personally, I think it has to do with being socialized -- by our parents and the examples we learned when it we're in our critical learning stages.

For myself, it's been some comfort to take Personality Tests and Learn that I'm just a unique personality type, and very rare. Which itself, has its perks.

That was an excellent post! Very thought provoking.

Spitting in a Wishing Well


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