Believe.

What should determine your behavior? How you feel at the moment? What you think of those around you? What those around you think?

All of those things do have an effect, even if we don’t think they should. But my current favorite film focuses on a different answer, and it’s got me thinking.

The way you behave should be largely shaped by what you believe in. And if it isn’t, it’s time to take a hard look at either your behavior, or your beliefs.

I can give you a long list of things I do not believe in, and an even longer list of kind-ofs to which I can add many qualifiers. But today, I’m forcing myself to make a short list of simple virtues in which I firmly believe. Virtues that can shape my everyday actions, you know, Wonder Woman style.

This should be easy. I have plenty of beliefs. I’ll pick one.

I believe in tolerance. That means letting me be me and letting you be you. Yes, I can hear the qualifiers creeping already. No one should tolerate one human harming another. Okay, I agree. But what do we do on the fringes? The barely harming that some say isn’t harming at all?

Image result for confederate flagI live in North Carolina and the confederate flag is a great example. I cringe when I see it. I have neighbors who find that intolerant. I find the flag itself intolerant. We are at an impasse, my neighbors and I, each unwilling to tolerate each other’s intolerance. What a mess.

So let me try another word. I believe in inclusion. Young, old, all races, religions, sexual orientations and body types. We are all beautiful. Except, of course, for the people who think we are not. They’re ugly.

Try again. I believe that we all need to accept each other as equally valid expressions of what it means to be human. No one gets excluded from anything based on the bodies they were born into, the cultures that raised them, or the personal preferences they now have.

Hey, I think that works.

That does not mean we have to tolerate each other’s bad behavior. In fact, at some point we have to act to stop it. And no, I don’t know exactly where that point is but I am sure it exists.

I believe in tolerance. I do. Tolerance means you’re beautiful, because you are a miracle and  I’m beautiful because I am one too.

We both need to act like it, and that is my belief for the day.

 

No, I actually don’t want to spend time with you

word porn 1One of the many themes of z2 is that time is a precious commodity, and needs to be used well. A good bit of my time and probably yours is committed to health (eating, sleeping) hygiene (bathing, cleaning) and supporting ourselves. In fact, when we get done with all of that there isn’t much left over. But there is some, and for me at least it is the most precious resource that I have.

So what to do when someone announces that they want some of it? If it’s a person I care about, they generally get my ear, my help moving, a ride somewhere, whatever.  The time I give them may or may not bring me joy, but they do, and so I share willingly.

The more difficult situation is the social event that I have no desire to attend. I’m a strong introvert, and I get my full daily allowance of people just from going to work and filling gas. However, some social functions aren’t really optional. If it’s work mandated, or important to someone I care about, I go. Of course. If it’s a chance to try something new or learn about something that interests me, I sometimes give it a try. One can be surprised.

raising11But if it’s an old acquaintance I haven’t heard from in a long time and didn’t particularly enjoy back when, then I have finally learned to say no. Some people just bring me down. They may complain a lot, or talk about others, or make little jokes that insult me or people I know or whole groups of people. The net result is that whenever I spend time with them I feel sadder, smaller, and weaker than I did before. So why would anyone do that?

Yet for years if somebody invited me somewhere I felt obligated to go, if I was available. At best I’d make up a lie about having other plans and I’m a really bad liar. Recently, I have managed, instead, to say to such people “my life’s just too full right now, but thanks for thinking of me.” No suggestion of a another time, no saying I’m sorry I can’t make it. At most I have added “I hope the rest of you have fun.” And I do, I wish no one ill. I just don’t want to be there, and I’m finally old enough to recognize that I don’t have to be.

It’s tremendously liberating!

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