Part of the miracle of being alive is the spectrum of experiences that are laid out before us all, every day. Depending on the time and circumstance, we might find ourselves on one end of the spectrum or the other. I contend that it is the contrast between good and bad which helps make us completely human, and enhances our understanding of the world. Without contrast, life becomes hollow and meaningless.Sometimes in my anxiety, I can see a world where I try to control my position on the spectrum as much as possible, even to the point of sabotaging my verbal discourse in order to present a non-confrontational non-incendiary approach…. but why? Because I have been scared of fucking up my words and falling flat on my face in the midst of the conversation, but also to protect my inner self rom people who I don’t want to share that with.
In truth, this is a mistake, because failure is part of the deal; we don’t get to opt out of fucking up. In fact, I insist that fucking up is fundamental to progress, and demolishing conversations, alienating people and plummeting to the depths of unintelligibility are just a part of this process.
I have my defenses, which keep most people from knowing much of anything about me, but now I see I can’t control anything beyond that. I have subsequently let myself fail time and time again over the years, gleaning valuable lessons from each new disaster. These successive failures and mishandled situations have led me to be a more targeted and specific linguist, especially in the frail territory of new encounters. I am fully prepared to fail, and almost expect that at some point, I will. This helps me be ready when I do, and then able to take something of use from the situation. Without experimentation, we develop no unique paths between who we are internally and what other people see.
I had this discussion with my best friend Will, as he is going through this very thing. In his case, he is anxious to a degree of diluting his words to the point of complete neutral transparency. He reveals none of who he is to anyone, and guards his expressions carefully to avoid conflict. To me, this is no way to live. I have learned more from my failures than I ever could have by carefully crafting my words to defuse situations and avoid confrontation. Sometimes you have no choice but to ruffle someone’s feathers and that’s okay. Negative and positive help us appreciate the good, and understand the bad better to avoid it in the future. Failure is learning and essential to our development as functional individuals.
My advice to you all is to continue to leap carelessly into the chasm and be willing to meet whatever reaction you get. Learn something from failure, and cherish the time you spend in the sun. Conversation is a beautiful narrative fraught with lows and highs and unpredictable transitions. It is this uncertainty that drives me to come back for more and to be honest with who I am. Don’t let people forget who you are with neutrality; make them remember.