Just going to note here how long it has been since I last posted on my blog, but I am not going to say too much more about it. I was pretty busy last term, and thinking about topics for blogging that don't reveal too much personal things about myself or other people is hard. I can see how the really "honest" writers, as they would depict themselves, wind up making a lot of enemies because of their willingness to mine their personal lives and interactions with other people as source of material for their writing. I am not the sort of person to do that. I'm much more private, which probably means that I don't take as many risks as I should or is necessary for improvement of my writing, but I am not willing to potentially upset many people.

It turns out, as far as I can see, that most people live somewhat complicated lives that are filled with partial secrets. What do I mean by that? Okay, well -- just for a minute think about how multi-faceted people and their interactions with others are. I behave one way with my friends at school, and their perception of me is shaped by this behavior and the collection of previous experiences with me when we interact. I make "claims," stated and unstated (as we all do), about my life. And so, they wind up with a "perception" of me. I, in turn, interact with my friends at school based on my "perception" of them, as well as the "perception" of myself when we're interacting together. However, I behave in a slightly different way with my sisters based on a similar process of interaction and the collection of experiences they have had with me in the past. All of which might lead them to see me in a way that appears contradictory to the way my friends see me.

It is a differential kind of definition of one self. These perceptions of me and the way they modulate together together are all true, and yet, never complete. So, I am not defined as a person in the absolute, but in they ways my temporal interactions are perceived by myself and other people. No one can ever say with 100% certitude that I am "quiet guy," because sometimes I am and sometimes I am not. That definition also depends on your experience and interaction with me, which because no-one is with anyone except themselves all of the time, is only part of the picture.

Why am I bringing all of this up at the moment and being so vague about talking about other people. I suppose the real reason is that I am frustrated by my own lack of close interactions with the people I currently have some daily experience with. I want to be emotionally closer to certain people, but the collection of traits and attributes that define me to those people (perhaps true insofar as any statement about people can be true) seem to prevent that. They might say to themselves, "oh, that zhaf, he's a real card!" Or they might say "zhaf is a pretty quiet guy." Or they might say, "I like zhaf, but he kind of weirds me out." Or they might say, "what is that guy's deal?"

As I walked into campus the other day, I passed by the bus stop. I am nearly a forty year old man with and unconventional (but not inappropriate) manner of dress. I would say that I look a little like an old hippie. I was raised by hippies, so this isn't all that unusual to me. Since the bus is just about to arrive to pick people up and drop them off, thirty people are standing there. Some are sitting in the bus shelter alcove on the bench, most are standing in a loose group together with lots of personal space between them. They each have their own personality quirks. I particularly note the one guy with the unusually large beard. Almost without exception, they stare at me as I walk by. Each seems to be noticing my unusual appearance, probably especially the two long braids hanging along the side of my face. I feel like an outsider even though, to my mind, I am expressing who I am. My hair is the one area of personal expression to the outside world that is totally in my control. Maybe I would be a snappier dresser if I had the money for nice clothes and a stylist or fashion consultant.

Another thing that I am realizing as time goes on is that poverty, and the daily experience of it, especially as an adult, has shaped me and my thoughts more than I would really care for it to. I am less likely to feel that life is going to be fair than I was when I was younger. So, yes. I know. I know. The old cliche, right? The one that says "life isn't fair." I always knew that, and so did you. But the stronger belief in our culture is one that says the opposite, but not explicitly so. This other belief is that if you want something, and work hard for it, it will eventually happen for you. This is the counterpoint to the "life isn't fair" cliche: "hard work will be rewarded." Perhaps one reason that it is not explicitly stated in a similar cliche is that when it is explicitly expressed, most people will realize that it isn't true. So, it does it work underneath the surface of yourself. And in my case, I am realizing that in the war between the poverty experience of "life isn't fair," and the middle class value of "hard work pays off with rewards," the "life isn't fair" side is winning.

I am trying to improve my lot in life with school, with self-improvement, with minor (outward) image adjustments, and the occasional realization or two. And yet, the whole process can be a frustrating experience, maybe because I am at the middle of my life and I still don't have a lot to show for work I have done. I feel like sometimes I am condemned to be trapped by difficult circumstances, and when I finally work my way out of them, it will be too late to achieve the kinds of things I would have wanted to achieve. It's complicated, and sometimes, it feels like a fresh disappointment is waiting around the corner. For example, the new one is a regret about not being more social in high school. Yes, I had other issues going on at that time that helped prevent that, but I think - what if? Anyway, enough of this kind of self-analysis for now.

30 March 2010
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