On those rare occasions when I allow my ego to run amok, I look at myself and consider putting in an application for sainthood based upon my sterling qualities. Then rationality steps in, laughing hysterically, and pulls me back to reality.
I find people absolutely fascinating. Really, I do. But do I understand them? Why they do/say what they do/say when they do/say it? Not a clue. Not a single clue. And I suppose all this would be more tolerable if I understood myself and why I do/say the things I do/say. Sometimes I have a vague inkling of my own motivations, but...
Because I spend all my time being me, I have little choice but to observe everyone else's actions/comments in light of my own. And naturally I prefer mine to theirs. But being overwhelmingly outnumbered inevitably results in huge amounts of frustration, confusion, and guilt.
There is a man in my building whom I see regularly. He works the front desk in the lobby. Last night, he was asking me about my books, since I'd loaned one to another desk worker, and asked if he might read one.
"Are they all gay?" he asked, obviously having been told so by his co-worker.
"They all have gay characters, yes, but the stories are universal."
"Why are they gay?"
"Other than the fact that I'm gay myself, you mean?"
He then confided in me that he considers himself bisexual...he'd been married and divorced after having prostate cancer made him unable to respond physically. But he had gone on line and started looking at gay sites and met a man on line and got together with him and his difficulty was resolved and...detail upon detail I neither needed nor really wanted to know. I was looking for a graceful way out of the conversation and could not find one. Finally he asked me if I would like to come to his apartment sometime and talk.
Suspecting that he might have something other than talk in mind, I abandoned all attempts at grace and told him that I was really very much a loner (which I realized with a small degree of shock was the truth) and that I would rather not.
And for the rest of the evening and this morning I thought about the conversation and felt guilty for being rude. Here, after all, was a fellow human being who was probably just lonely and was reaching out, and I rebuffed him. For all my vainglorious self avowed nobility and concern and supposed compassion and caring, my veneer was stripped away I was revealed once again to be merely rude, insensitive, and unkind. How can I preach compassion when I do not show it myself? There are few things worse than not being who you think you are.
Returning from coffee this morning, I approached the elevators where a woman in a wheelchair was waiting. I didn't recognize her as being the same woman with whom I had had a previous run-in involving an elevator. Anyway, we were the only two people waiting. When the elevator arrived, she got on and I started to get on, too.
"Don't you come in here! Take the other elevator!"
Once again I responded in a manner diametrically opposed to my self image, and said something sarcastic.
"F**k you!" she said, and the door closed. I immediately pressed the button for the next elevator before the first one had left the floor, and its door reopened, revealing the charming woman.
"Get the f**k away! Get away!" she yelled.
I got the f**k away, absolutely furious.
Now, I realize this was a woman with serious, serious emotional issues which I know had nothing whatever to do with me. And I am truly sorry for whatever happened in her life to make her who she has turned into. So why did I react the way I did? Where, again, was my compassion? Why am I still angry just thinking about it?
Whenever anything like these two incidents happens, I realize--unfortunately too often in retrospect--that my application for sainthood would be resoundingly rejected, and that I also must stop and examine my own reactions and wonder what sort of person I am turning into.
And why am I foisting yet another totally me-centered blog on you? In the hopes, as always, that perhaps my reactions might not be totally limited to me, and that I may not be as alone as I too frequently feel I am.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).