"Okay, here are the factors," I say. Josh smiles. I don’t do this whole explaining thing much to him. He usually already gets it. But he’s bummed, so I explain:
"One, you wanted to help and you took more initiative than the rest of us. You’re the only one who stood up and took charge. So you had the intention down. Two, you put a lot of effort into it. You worked harder than the rest of us. So you wanted a good thing, and you put your heart in it. And three, you, for the most part, had a good method about it. You did everything you had to do to get the job done—and yeah, one little administrative mistake screwed everything up, but that’s just one mistake. So four, the results are fine. I mean, yeah, we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do, but we don’t care. We didn’t care about the trip, we cared about hanging out, and we did get to hang out. And we’re having a good time. So maybe you that third thing messed up what we had planned, but that’s just one little mistake—and that kind of stuff happens everyday. It’s like tripping—and you happened to trip on bucket of paint that got on five people—but no, not even that, because nobody got paint on them. It’s just neutral. You just tripped and we’re still having a good weekend, even if it’s not what we planned. The third thing is the only one that might speak to your character or virtue, but we don’t care about that. It’s good that you care, but you don’t have to be bummed out about it. We already know you care, and that’s all we care about. […]
"The rest of us didn’t even have the guts to take the responsibility, ‘cuz we were scared to feel what you’re feeling right now."
He felt bad about not getting the car for our road trip. We ended up not getting a car and not going on the trip. One of the cancellations of our three reservations of campsites/motel rooms did not process without a fee, so the trip-less weekend had a sunk cost of $61.00, split five ways at $12.20 a piece.
"Why don’t we just not go, and eat good food this weekend?" I said. And the Jack and Nate and Matt laughed at me, while Josh was still sulking a little bit.
We ended up doing that, basically, and Josh and I slept over for the next two nights at Nate/Jack/Matt’s apartment. We went out for burgers twice, cooked breakfast together, and walked around the city for a bit, munching on candy from the Economy Candy store.
A lot of the things/conflicts that have been coming up recently have been based on things like “why don’t you want what I want?” or “why don’t believe what I believe?” or “why don’t you respect what I want—or what I believe?” or “why don’t you respect me?” And so like, every once in a while I feel pretty insecure about those kinds of things, like either not liked enough or not respected enough—or not at the right times, when I want or need it most.
I’ve been writing a lot about not asking for things, being proud, being strong and independent. I can’t get it out of my head. Everything is either an expression of weakness or strength, or both and/or neither—depending on how you look at it, what’s valued more, or what the motive is.
And you never know the motive.
I’ve only been able to resolve things by giving people the benefit of the doubt, or assuming the best intentions of people, or wanting what they want more than what I want. It’s pretty annoying. It especially hurts if no one will do the same for you—but then, that pretty much ruins the point of doing something selfless—if you end up begging for credit afterward. It would turn out that you just did it for the credit, to feed your ego, or for the recognition or returning of the favor.
"Purity of the heart is to want one thing" is keeping sane and making me go crazy at the same time. But it gives me hope, something to always strive for, and something to keep me entertained/challenged.
Jack was telling me about his photos (he took a bunch of photos of the “road trip” we had), and how basically, the I way interpreted him, was how he wanted to show his subjects at their best. He said he wouldn’t ever publish a photo that showed someone worse at their worst.
I thought about how that’s basically a good way to approach writing characters, and also a good way to relate to people around you. Rarely do people need a kick in the ass—or at least in the way that that phrasing suggests, does that kick actually and reliably work. I don’t really know what works in getting people to “be better” (or more how you want them to be).—maybe to challenge them how they want to be? (And this why I love the song title “Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?”). You can explain people’s behavior but you can’t really change it. Same with characters—portray it a certain way but you don’t really get to control them. Characters write themselves, once they have a name.
But anyways, I thought about how Frame People As Best As Possible and Get Their Good Side is a good rule for photography just as much as for every person you write about in memoir—unless you’re writing about yourself. Then you can be relentless and villain-ize yourself. I mean, that’s not the goal—but there’s certainly no reason to make yourself look good—if that’s even possible. You can’t ask for anything like credibility or attention. You just have to earn it. Maybe that’s also generally applicable to life, and not just memoir-writing.
I am fine explaining all that stuff to Josh, but I would not want him to tell himself that story. It excuses him and gives him the best I can explain about his “shortcoming” (if you can call it that)—but he was really bummed out about it because he cared about the trip, because he cared about being with us, because he cares about us. As soon as he starts making excuses for himself, he stops caring about his friends and starts caring about his ego and virtue. But if I can comfort his ego, and if he doesn’t have to worry about what I think about him——-or better yet, if he doesn’t have to worry about whether or not I trust that he cares about me and his friends, even though he screwed up getting a car—then he doesn’t have to feel bad about his small administrative mistake. I mean, the mistake is excusable insofar as we’re human, ignorant, and forgetful. But he doesn’t have to be ashamed about that. And if he’s worried that this ignorance reflects some shortcoming about how he cares about us, then that’s why I explain it to him—because it doesn’t. He cares.
I read for JCT about a guy who said that I want and I want to be wanted are pretty fundamental to how we feel about our happiness. He said, I think, that we want to be with someone who wants to be with us. I would add that I want to be with someone who wants what I want—and not because I want it, but because they see the same value that I do. And so they have the feeling, the empathy, along with the reason, the understanding.
I don’t really trust people to understand me or what I want. I don’t really respect anyone in that I am unquestioningly obedient to them. I am unquestionably obedient to some, but not out of respect, but out of trust. I just want them to know I trust them. But it’s different from respect. I don’t understand, and I am still afraid and even reluctantly. They are not my source of belief, I guess. That’s all pretty normal, I think. It’s basically skepticism or not having role models or being stubborn or proud. That’s all pretty normal. I mean, the trust thing is less normal. But it’s something I care about, but mostly because of my own ego. I want someone to respect me, or at least trust me—and neither of those things happen if no one understands me. I have a couple people that care a lot about understanding things, and I think that’s what’s nice about my school—that people care about intellectual understanding, and every once in a while it intersects with a good personality, relateability, and a sense of humor and humility. But much more often it will block people out. They won’t care enough for me. I will be selfish. I want to be loved more than I want to love. And the more I try to understand people, the more I express and augment my own desire to be understood.
This is what the whole the difference between compassion and ego cat comic was about. I mean, it was about cats. But these were the abstractions that Kittie was thinking about it while she was reading that book. I mean, there are obvious differences between ego and compassion, but they are mostly in motive. And you never know the motive.