Monday, August 8, 2011

Parallels and Triangles

What is it that I cannot stand most about a person? Righteousness. Yes self righteousness. I remember acting all self-righteous when I was in my early and mid teens. I feel bashful reading through the journal I kept during those years. I was often critical of the society and hypocrisy in general ; looking back, I cannot remember what my disappointments were. I wonder what kind of issues I could have raised as a student council representative for my class. They must be matters relating to the welfare of the students. Probably nothing could be inconsequential then.

Southampton Wall

I was at the stage of configuring concepts, thoughts, ideas about how an ideal world should be or how people should behave. How na├»ve, immature  and unrealistic I must have come across. Throughout the years of growing older, I gradually learnt that one cannot control how others should behave and say the things we want to hear or act the way we would like them to ; we must come to realize that the only way to get through a day without getting ourselves all worked up is not to expect how others should behave and not to be disappointed when others do not give the response we expect from them or behave in an irreverent manner.

How often I have to remind myself that I must not concentrate on the smaller specifics and in the process lose out on the larger perspective of things in general. I find that my thoughts are volatile; somehow every thought counts and how one thinks at one moment will lead to the next thought at the next moment and if I do not watch my thoughts or words, my whole perception of a situation or the actual state of affairs  can transform at a moment’s notice. The atmosphere around me can turn good or bad in a matter of moments if the wrong words are uttered . I try to watch how I say things and too frequently there are slips and ambiguous expressions. When I have ambivalent feelings and views about things, I should become hesitant but there were times I had moved ahead ( foolishly you might say) without caring about the consequences that might follow. If we are with the people who possess the same dynamics, there will be very little or no misunderstandings and even if there are some misunderstandings, they can be cleared up and there will be no serious conflicts as these people will be understanding and try to minimize the blunder or attach minimal importance to the messages you might have unwittingly conveyed without meaning them or whatever errors you have made will not be magnified, in other words there are no repercussions nor hard feelings .

As we know whether a glass is half full or half empty depends on the outlook and attitude of the person looking at it and the outlook and attitude of a person may involve personal pride, one’s preferences, prejudices and moods at the time. There are always people who appear to set very high standards for themselves and for others, as a result, they will be difficult and almost impossible to please. Unfortunately these people will not only harp on their own mistakes, and be hard on themselves, they will also thrive on your failings, your imperfections and your flaws so much so that you find it necessary to defend your dignity by justifying your limitations and when you do that, they think you must be in denial of your inadequacy and shortcoming. At moments like this, you wish you could walk away.

As humans, we are mortal beings who have similar needs  yet we can behave quite differently due to our respective upbringings and backgrounds. Whether we are men or women, we often interpret one’s actions and non-actions according to our perceptions hence we get responses which do not synchronize with what we might be accustomed to. If we choose to find faults with such responses, we may miss the woods for the trees and as a result, there will be grudges and we wonder  and sometimes lament how we get to where we are. When two inconsequential parties are not on the same page, their conversations either come to a halt or run parallel or become entangled in more misinterpretations. If we are courteous , we will not attempt to correct the others even if we do not agree with what we hear bearing in mind that we are not sure if we clearly follow what is being said and understand what they mean. After umpteenth attempts, we resign to the fact that even with constant pounding and drilling, some people will not change their responses just as they will not change their perspectives of things so we either  adapt, accept the way things are  or free ourselves from having to confront the same disappointments over again and again.

Some people leave others alone while some people do not. The latter category consist of those who deem themselves qualified and have a tendency to offer unsolicited guidance and opinions about your plans and interpret your intentions regardless of whether you ask them to. These are highly intelligent people but you only wish that they would mind their own business. Are they trying to tell you that they know better?  If only they could read your mind : “ NO COMMENTS PLEASE”. If  one is fortunate enough to meet like minded people, one should count one’s lucky stars. On the other hand one may learn a thing or two from those people who  have dissimilar values and opposing views. However it is more often than not counterproductive to  deal with people who do not support our sentiments, moves or views save and except when one needs a sparring partner to exchange views and debate issues.

If everyone is allowed to run his or her own course of life without any interference  unless he or she asks for such interference, there will be peace on earth. But you might argue that sometimes one needs an intervention and the others might feel that they cannot sit on the fence so all of a sudden, his or her life has been intruded upon and the people who has initiated the intervention will have to justify that they are only acting in his or her  interests . Situations may improve with or without such interventions. Perhaps in an ideal world, everyone should be given a free hand to walk through his or her own journey in his or her own way.  When one party tries to dominate over another party, there is bound to be insubordination and on a large scale, when one group tries to preside over another, there may be mutiny and rebellions. If only we could understand that everyone has his or her own journey to contend with and often each and every journey may appear separate and distinct yet they are similar in a parallel fashion because we all have our personal baggage or concerns, burdens and benefits to manage along the way. Interestingly, the synonyms for parallel are : similar, equivalent, corresponding, analogous, matching and comparable.

Recently I attended a church wedding where the master of the ceremony told the newly weds that the man shall lead and provide the spiritual guidance while the woman shall submit and follow and both the man and the woman will be walking towards God together. Apparently the couple must picture this:
Southampton city

The groom and the bride as husband and wife are in a triangle and they would both walk towards the tip of the triangle which will be where the creator is waiting at the convergence point.  The same message was repeated by the father of the bride when he gave a speech at the wedding dinner reception. While I fully appreciate that everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs and faiths, given the backdrop of the 21st century, I find it most unsettling to hear about how the husband will be the head of the family and provide the spiritual guidance and the rest will follow.

I should not comment since I am not in the position to do so  where a leap of faith is concerned. Perhaps what was said during the wedding was intended to be a metaphor only. Irrespective of faith and religion, I feel that a man and a woman who are wedded to one another must be on a par in a marriage as one person is as good as another . All of us have our likes and dislikes, our preferences, our prejudices, our comfort and discomfort zones. If we regard life as an ongoing process where each and everyone of us has our own issues, conflicts to bear and follow through and overcome in our lifetimes, all we could hope for is a little understanding and appreciation of our imperfections  and given a chance we can provide each other the space and support we all need to live our circles of life.

What  an idyllic world it would be if and only we knew how to live side by side with each other's idiosyncrasies and remember that everyone is entitled to an opinion or no opinion and  our views and perceptions must  change from time to time to allow for reinvention ..........C’est la vie !


  1. That is so true about self-righteousness and youth! I feel one of the greatest benefits of growing older is losing that self-righteousness through learning more about the world and yourself, and so becoming more human. I can understand others' failings far more now that I have learnt to recognise - and forgive - my own.

  2. Hi Juliet
    Well said. Thank you for reading and you comment. Cheers!!

  3. Oops I meant your comment. Thanks again, Lee Hong