Please Kill Me,
I get caught up in moments pretty often. Whether it’s something toothless, like an awkward instance with a checkout girl (whose smile I simply don’t trust), something a bit more substantial, like an intense political discussion with a neighbor (wherein they demand that feelings be treated as facts), or something major (like losing a loved one… to someone else. #SadFace #HeartbreakHostel). I try not to obsess in any way I think is too unhealthy.
Admittedly, I may be a bit too comfortable with verbal confrontations. I’m a creative, which means I’m a borderline-sociopath, which makes me fairly immune to the conventional-trappings of conversation (impulsive responses, self-preservation, ego, insecurity, etc.). To me, these kinds of variables have the potential to annihilate any reasonable discussion before it begins. I don’t understand why people hang on to these things, but I do acknowledge that they do. It’s clear to me that there’s always something of a comprehension barrier.
Sidenote: It probably doesn’t help that I basically bathe in words and information all day. Most people are too sane and irrevocably busy for such engagement. It’s a problem. I’m working on it.
But I digress…
Instead, I ruminate. I needle through my own thoughts, opinions, and prejudices in search of something I can state with simplicity because nothing matters if it’s not understood. Once this internal prying is complete, I examine the arguments (stated thoughts, opinions, and views) of my counterparts and attempt to deduce the sensibilities behind their mindset.
I inquire where I can, however, sometimes it’s just not practical to run up to someone and shout… “WAS THIS WHAT YOU WERE THINKING, YOU [EXPLETIVE]-LACED A$$HOLE?!?!?!” –that’s just not how things are done. Many of these issues go unresolved and I’m forced to bear the weight of echo, that was the awkward moment.
As you’ve probably guessed, I think there’s something here. Something to mine. Something to delve into. Something to chain me to a bed, strap a ball-gag to my face, and drip wax on my naked body (too far?). I’m talking about the perspective. Processing the perspective of others is a well-mined (if underutilized) life skill. It’s also pretty damn convenient to any writer, exhausted with their own swirling thoughts of tyranny, self-destruction, and mayhem. So, why not use it?
Whenever I find myself at the crossroads of creativity and discontent, I try to reach beyond my own presumptions for an understanding that’s unachievable in meditative stasis. I read counter-literature, psycho-analysis, vetted-articles, anecdotal evidence, and I even reach out to some proprietors of bullsh*t (the other person) when possible, for clarity.
The goal is to submerge myself in opposing thoughts. Not for any kind of brainwashy thing. Rather, I believe that most people are pragmatic in their thinking—crazy or otherwise—and are fairly capable thinkers, despite their beliefs and alleged value-system. The worth of their perspective is inherent and their POV is essential to understanding the fabric of our society. As is mine. As are yours.
I skirt past the confrontation and resign myself to strictly academic engagement. I arrive with questions and seek answers. Not to pry. Not to dominate. Not to do much more than understand their position (though, be warned, some people will take this as a direct assault on them and their ideals. If they do, disengage as peacefully as you can).
I take all of this information and begin crafting, suspiciously, in my cave of wonders. Many of my favorite stories come from this type of thought, as well as a renewed respect for those whom I’ve mentally banished. Better still, it’s a nifty way to avoid purposeless arguments (Let’s be honest, the world won’t change much because two non-voting knuckleheads disagree on cannabis laws).
Sometimes, the craft of writing equates to methodical and studious informational intake. Unlike scientists and mathematicians, the information that we absorb doesn’t always have to be “correct” to work, but it should be as in-line with the consensus in question as we can manage.
From that seed of understanding, a stem of new thought and comprehension can flourish. Because we’re creatives, we know how to nurture these ideas and reap the fruits of clear communication. Just remember, nothing great ever comes without a few awkward moments and inspiration often hides in the most unlikely places.
Don’t seek agreement. Seek clarity.
Until Next Time,
Bedlam: A Collection of Things Also Available on Google Books.