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Yesterday... - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
... all my troubles seemed so far away. Spent a happy day catching up on 3 years' worth of missed conversation with rysmiel.

Today, everybody seems to be unhappy. What can I say to friends who think they'd be better off dead? It seems selfish to point out that they're contributing positive things to my life, that in my view they're making the world a better place, when I have nothing to offer them in return.

All I want is to be a good friend to the people I care about. It's sometimes nice to imagine that one day I'll be a good partner for somebody, but that's getting into the realm of useless daydreaming; the friendship's the important thing. I just wish I knew how to go about it.

In the meantime, no, I'm not "broken", I'm not about to "do anything stupid", I'm "coping" just fine, and nobody should feel obliged to post "*hugs*". I just sometimes wonder in idle moments if there's more to life than getting up, going to work, coming home, and going to sleep; and of course managing to offend and upset a few people in the times inbetween. I used to think there could be more:

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (attrib.)

but despite my efforts I certainly don't think I can tick any of those yet, except possibly appreciating beauty and finding the best in others -- it doesn't seem to make other people any happier if I see the best in them, though, so I'm unsure what the point of that one is -- and try as I might I can't see any of the rest of them being achieved any time soon. Perhaps I should concentrate on the garden.
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mhw From: mhw Date: July 19th, 2004 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Does learning that someone is glad that they're getting to know you help at all? Because I am.

*hugs* are certainly available if you'd like them. It certainly sounds as though you could do with some support.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 19th, 2004 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if it helps. Lots of people have got to know me, but I always just seem to end up making their lives miserable. I feel I should be warning people off rather than trying to make new friends, until I'm in a position to actually contribute something to a friendship or a relationship.
lusercop From: lusercop Date: July 19th, 2004 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, although it was very brief, I did notice you enjoying the watching mangosteen attempting to teach me to juggle (and failing).
j4 From: j4 Date: July 19th, 2004 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I noticed that there was some juggling going on; I don't know if I could say that I "enjoyed" it as I didn't really stop to watch, I'm afraid.
lusercop From: lusercop Date: July 19th, 2004 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
you were smiling though.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 19th, 2004 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, hurrah, I was obviously ecstatically happy during the 3 seconds when I smirked sympathetically at the sight of somebody (who I didn't even know) trying to explain how to juggle. My life has acquired new depth and worth as a result.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 19th, 2004 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Not sure why.

Possibly because the prevailing social culture revolves around "accepting people for who they are" in a way that prolongs their inability to cope: "we love you for who you are; so don't change who you are, don't think that this is something you can move beyond, it's part of you, don't try to become something different, don't pressure yourself to do anything with your life, you're broken, but we all are, and that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that."

(No, being "broken" [I hate that word] doesn't make you a bad person. But there was a time when being ill was considered to be a temporary and undesirable state, which needed to be fixed if at all possible, rather than just another facet of a beautiful and unique snowflake. Yes, you may all now hate me for saying this.)

I'm not predicting doom in the future. I could live to a hundred, or I could be run over by a bus tomorrow. But since I don't believe in a God/Easter Bunny/Fairy Godmother who will come and fix everything, or who will magically invest my life with meaning just at the point when I'm leaving it, I've come to the conclusion that the "bigger picture" is mostly about trying to make the world a better place for the people who are living in it. Which is something that I feel as though I'm totally failing to do, even on a small scale.
julietk From: julietk Date: July 19th, 2004 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Um. I don't think I agree with the idea of "accepting people as they are" as applied to brokenness. I'm rather in favour of brokenness being fixed, or attempting at least to be fixed, or something like that.

Sometimes, of course, being unhappy is just something that has to be worked through over time (the obvious one here being grieving over the death of a loved one - there's things you can do to help yourself feel better, but mostly it'll just take time). But that's certainly not always the case. I do try to help people fix themselves, when they want to; I have no idea whether I necessarily *do* help, mind.

And yes, supporting your friends is important, but IMO supporting them through trying to help them get *better* is most important. And I certainly don't buy "I'm broken, so everyone must move the world around me & I expect nothing else".

Anyway. You made me happy by giving me books on Saturday! Yay books. Am sorry we didn't get to talk more; I kind of got caught by the sofa/knitting state and stopped moving, other than around the fingers... Was good to see you, though.
From: angua Date: July 19th, 2004 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I've decided on a new approach.

The short version is 'What would the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Do?'

I have thus decided to become a detective and go and solve international crimes.

Which one of the Hardy boys would you like to be?
burkesworks From: burkesworks Date: July 19th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
> Which one of the Hardy boys would you like to be?

Thomas, of course. He may have been a bit of a miserable old bugger, but he could write very well. I don't quite have the build or the comic timing to be Oliver.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: July 19th, 2004 04:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Respect of intelligent people: check
Appreciation of honest critics: check
Appreciating beauty: check
Finding the best in others [at least some of the time, it is a challenge]: check

The other items in Emerson's list are outwith my competency to comment upon.

Seeing the best in others is your thing. Their happiness, though, is another matter entirely, and doesn't diminish the goodness qua goodness your action contains.

Some of the "more" comes from the little things which we tend to ignore during the macro-processes you describe. In this morning's traffic jam I had the chance to look out of the window and see if, amongst the other flowers, grasses, shrubs, and litter there might possibly be some orchids along the hillside by the road. More is more - I like my butter and jam thickly spread - but thin layer upon thin layer also comes to be "more", eventually.

And yes, huge great chunks of More are good and do happen from time to time, but the peace which comes from a reasonably secure job is not to be sneezed at :-)

j4 From: j4 Date: July 19th, 2004 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
doesn't diminish the goodness qua goodness your action contains

I'm not sure I believe in "goodness qua goodness". For me, it's all about people; if something doesn't benefit anybody's life (including one's own), how is it "good"?
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: July 19th, 2004 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Seeing the best in people is, I think, intrinsically good; others might not benefit immediately from your right action, but - because humans are complex beings and reliant upon time - they probably will, in due course. You cannot predict when someone will remember your words or acts and for some key moment gain strength or comfort or happiness from that memory.

It is, also, I think, an intrinsic good to articulate one's seeing of beauty, or the best, in others, or oneself. We go to the grave regretting the love and appreciation we failed to express when we had the chance.

As for goodness qua goodness, I don't believe that there's some Platonic ideal out there; but I do think that one can do a right action without requiring foresight as to its final consequence, and that a right, a good, action, is good in itself.

bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: July 19th, 2004 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
It seems selfish to point out that they're contributing positive things to my life, that in my view they're making the world a better place, when I have nothing to offer them in return.

I'm not sure, on an abstract basis, that one is obliged to offer anything in return. If someone is low, very low, because they feel that their life is not contributing anything to the world, then surely it's an altruistic act, not a selfish one, to point out that they enrich your life in some way, because that negates their argument and proves that they are contributing to the sum of happiness in the world, and (with luck) makes them a little happier. Maybe we should all go around telling people how much they make us happy, in the hopes that it will improve their happiness. (I'm not being sarcastic.) There are always reports to be found of how much petting an animal or playing with a small child improves illness or low mood - the animal/baby has no particular need for a balanced transaction, in fact they will take and give very little or nothing back, the ultimate in selfishness, but the improvement in mood is noticeable for most people. A win-win situation.

You make me happy when you talk about things you enjoy, I like to read your reflective posts (and I think they're exceedingly well-written, a big plus for me), you make me laugh when you make jokes. I like your baking (and the biscuit tin lid was popular with smallclanger which in turn made me happy too). And you introduced me to Spitfire cheese which makes me exceedingly happy (except when I consider the WW points. But I eat it anyway).
nou From: nou Date: July 19th, 2004 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not a child, but you do have my affection. I'm glad you're my friend and I was very pleased to see you on Saturday. You do make me happier just by existing. I may even have found someone who might have an actual use for the knitting with one hand book that you gave me. And YOU'RE LETTING ME KNIT YOU A WAISTCOAT OUT OF BADGERS' EYELASHES.

d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: July 19th, 2004 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not feeling obliged to send [hugs]. I want to. So there! [mwah!]
From: rmc28 Date: July 19th, 2004 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think it's selfish to tell people they are appreciated, they have value in at least someone's eyes if not in their own. Is it selfish to tell someone they look nice or they've done a good job? To tell someone you enjoy their company seems to me a compliment in the same way, not a demand.

And sometimes it is what they need to hear. When I have been very unhappy, it's been simple obligations like getting work done, or throwaway comments like 'Thanks for lunch, it was fun' that have got me through until I started liking life again.

You have my respect and affection and I'm sure I'm not alone there.
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