Fight the Power

Daily Prompt:  Tell us about a time when you fought authority and took a stand against “the man.” Did you win?

My fight has always been with the man.  I am generally a pacifist, though I have thrown a few punches in a few fights for great justice.  However, when it comes to the man, I have a definite “bad boy” side.

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you already know I am a geek and nerd ad comfortable with it.  The story I want to tell you about authority is about an obese man who got his kicks by being the duly appointed tyrant of my middle school English class.

I was 13 years old and in 8th grade.  The last class of the day was English.  The class itself was alright.  There was less literature than previous years and a stronger focus on process and technique.  I had an appreciation for the art of writing then so it was not hard to pay attention.  The problem I faced was the way in which this man needed to demonstrate authority over pupils in the realm of vocabulary.  He had a way of teaching vocabulary that worked phenomenally well and had been in use for at least 5 years.  I can tell you that from firsthand experience.  Just as in 3rd grade, we would write the definition of the word, write a sentence with the word and then write the word 10 times.

Yes, in 8th grade.

I am sure that the system worked well; I mean it had worked in 3rd grade, how could we dare threaten the system?

As the “bad boy” you know I am, I refused.  I would turn in a list of all the definitions and sentences every Thursday and would be sent down to the assistant principal’s office.    I don’t know that I was ever even reprimanded in the office.  Maybe the first few times, but it was a recurring event.  Eventually, I would go down to the Assistant Principals office on Thursdays and tutor a kid in math.

This was the wisest punishment that has ever been doled out.  Only as I write this do I realize that this is possibly where my definition of genius comes from:

Genius: combining 2 or more problems into 1 or more solutions.

I was given a purpose.  I was not told that I was a horrible person.  I was treated with respect even though it was tempered with some mild annoyance at the fact that I was adamant about it being below me.  I hope that when I have children and interact with them, I can treat similar situations as well as this.  It is hard to take a child seriously when they are being so serious about something so trivial.  At the same time, I recognize that if I had been yelled at and scolded and my parents had been called, I would have been forced to comply.

If I had been forced to comply there, I think my life may be easier now.  However, I instead have a strong sense of what is right and wrong.  I will do what I think is right no matter who tells me not to.  I believe the universe will not punish me if I am true and honest and direct.  If I had been forced to comply at such a crucial point in my life, perhaps I would be like everyone else who complies and is scared to speak the truth for exactly what it is.

In my job today, there are situations that come up where I have to defer to my boss’s judgment.  I will offer her the situation and all the details along with my own opinion in no uncertain terms.  Sometimes I am sure she thinks I am retarded because I will ask her and make my case already knowing what her answer is.  I will, however, never become complacent or complicit with the system.

In every facet of my life today, I seek the opportunity to teach.  It makes me come off as conceited, regularly.  It is not because I am better, it is because I may know better.  I am not humbled when the new guy at work teaches me something, I am awed.  I have learned to respect learning from teachers and from “bad boys” who buck authority by refusing to follow simple rules.

Yeah, I guess I won.  I think I came out stronger on all fronts because of it.  I am glad that I had an ally in the system.  Though I guess he didn’t start as my ally.  I am glad that he had wisdom and vision.  I am glad that he understood that there was a failure in the system.  I am glad for all of it.  When it comes time to list the pieces of myself that I am proud of, this is it.

“Screw broken systems.  Think.  Be free.  Live well together.  Help one another.  Respect people who know what respect is.  Ignore the people who should be hated.”

This is what Mr. M taught me.  This is what I wish to teach you and everyone else.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Daily Prompt: Do you find it easy to make new friends? Tell us how you’ve mastered the art of befriending a new person.

The moment I read the title of this prompt Jeannette popped into my mind. Every part of me wants to be friends with this girl, but every time I see her I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of falling in love. For a long time it felt like a dangerous cliff that drew me out and made me want to dive into crystal blue waters far below. I am terrified of heights and I don’t know how to swim, but none of that is important.

What is important? What’s important is that I know I don’t want to fall in love with her. It may happen, but I don’t want it to. I wouldn’t say we’re close, but on some level, there is a tunnel between her palace and my fort. She is a beautiful woman who manages to keep people at bay with majesty and mystery. She does a great job of evading situations that she’d rather not deal with. I am an introverted guy who, until recently, wanted the world to know nothing about me.

Somehow, when we end up in the same room, it’s like we’re tumbling through a castle as little kids with wooden swords and magic wands. There is a magic to children that I can’t help but be drawn to. We have to teach kids not to talk to strangers. At the center of it all, children want to share the world with people. She brings out the kid in me. She conjures fairytales with elements from my past as if she was there. She reminds me what it must’ve been like in my long forgotten childhood. Perhaps I never had a childhood like that and she is just gifting it to me for the first time.

Regardless, making friends isn’t easy for me, because I live in a well guarded fort. The friends I have are well defended and they will always have an ally. I stand where I stand, unapologetically. Somehow, she has brought out this love of the world. My fort is looking better and more approachable every day. I invite the world in more readily, though warily. I still don’t venture far from my fort, but maybe one day that will change.

In the meantime, the beautiful princess of the next kingdom can have her palace. Perhaps one day our kingdoms will unite. Perhaps we will be allies for all time. I just hope that we never go to war and that we can at least share in conversation and celebration together. The sounds of laughter and children tumbling through a castle are hard to beat.

I already wrote a post about friendship and almost wanted to just link it to the Daily Prompt, but I am still mildly trapped in my fairytale world.  Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I “manage” friendships.

Make Me Smile

Daily Prompt: If you’re feeling blah, what is the one thing you do that you can count on to put a smile on your face?

I had to sit and listen to two beautiful young women compare “Frozen” themed birthday party ideas, because they both have daughters with very close birthdays. It made me smile. It makes me smile right now as I write this. I don’t know if I’d ever have enough artistic vision and immediate response to do that for my daughter, but I would love to have a daughter and do what little I could for her.  Continue reading

Green-Eyed Lady

Daily Prompt: We all get jealous from time to time — what wakes the green-eyed monster for you?

Jealousfeeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages. “he grew jealous of her success”

Envya feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Or a desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else).

Resentfulfeeling or expressing bitterness or indignation at having been treated unfairly.

The core of jealousy is resentment. I bring this up because I had to look up 3 different words to figure out what jealousy really is. Continue reading

I Walk the Line

Daily Prompt: Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

I am a goldfish in so many ways. I really only have one principle or value I can focus on at a time. It’s generally a pretty good one.

The current principle at the center of me is … just watch the video…

It is hard to explain the power of Karma. Karma is neither good nor bad. Karma is such a simple premise. As an atheist, I subscribe to karma on a logical and rational level. I am a firm believer that you are condemned or gifted the world you create.

I have my sad days where I am disappointed with where my life is sometimes, but then I look at my friends and realize two amazing things. First of all, I realize that I have some amazing people who will look at for me. You know how they say that friends help you move and real friends help you move bodies? I have friends that will kill people and never tell me about it, let alone where the bodies may be. It is a gift to have people like that in my life. The power of karma gives me the second thing. It reminds me that I deserve these people. I would do the same for them. If I am the kind of people that deserves these people, I guess I’m doing okay.

The other nice thing about karma is that when I need it, it reinforces me, but in general the scientific method reinforces it. As I see more and more causality in the world, a more concrete belief in Karma becomes inevitable for me.

Although it is very comforting, it is also kind of controlling, because I really try not to wish bad things on people. I try not to hurt people. I try not to be angry or spiteful. The deepest and sweetest revenge I aim for is ignoring people. I can maintain a professional and cool demeanor and convince myself not to lift a finger to help someone. I don’t know if I could let someone literally get hit by a train, but I can convince myself to let them be in the world they create, which sometimes does involve trains. It’s hard to stick to the no ill-wishing, but heck I try and Karma, she knows I try so, hopefully she’ll take it easy on me.

When I lose sight of the line, I try to find a new one. There’s definitely one person I look to when I am trying to find guidance. A friend of mine once commented on how hard it is to find a picture of him with a serious face and how refreshing that was. It’s true. Go Google for a serious picture of the Dalai Lama.

Perhaps this is too simple a model for an adult. But it works for me. There is no complicated rule set. There are never two ideas in conflict. The world will balance itself. I just have to worry about me and my loved ones. And when it comes to myself and them, the only thing I have to remember or remind them of or help them with is keeping their hands and noses clean, so that when Karma rolls the world around, she doesn’t hit anyone I love.

Born to Be With You

Daily Prompt: Got a soul-mate and/or a best friend? What is it about that person that you love best? Describe them in great detail — leave no important quality out.

So, this is a horrible topic for me.

I am a romantic.  Not a flowers and chocolates romantic.

I’m not an “oops I forgot your birthday” kind of romantic either.

I didn’t really have a girlfriend until my senior year of high school.  That relationship lasted for 2&1/2 years.  24 days after that relationship ended, I met a girl. Continue reading