Monday, March 11, 2013

The Eternal Question

I’m going to share with you my eternal question, which bears no relation to the one posed by jaunty old Hamlet.  Some form of this question has kept me up many a night (before I discovered the wonders of Ambien), where it became a tool I utilized to torture my brain over the actions and intentions of both myself and others.  Of course, nothing is ever straightforward with me, so I’m going to provide you with a situation to frame my query.

"I just wondered why in Hamlet 1 everybody has to die."

You have a lot of friends.  I say friends, but really, you just know a lot of people that want to be friends with you, you probably don’t actually like many of them.  And really, most of them probably think that you’re more than kind of an asshole, which you are, but they’re too enthralled by your good looks and charm to not want to spend time with you.  Regardless, you’re surrounded by fucks.  You have to admit that even those on your list of people who can do no wrong are flawed in their own special ways, and just because you have come to accept these imperfections, you aren’t necessarily completely okay with them.

Let’s take one of the assclowns you actually like.  We’ll call her Grace.  You’ve known Grace for a long time and she’s fairly decent.  You can trust her to make your significant other feel welcome, without trying to fuck them.  You can talk to her about current events and movie musicals of the 1960s.  And when you go out, she doesn’t dress like too big of a slut and she usually doesn’t puke.  What more could you ask for?

"It's like they're just people I work with and our job is being popular and shit."

However, as it was once eloquently stated, “Nobody’s perfect.”  Grace has a rather unfortunate character flaw, being that she is a bit of flake.  And by “bit of a flake,” I mean that she is one of the most unreliable people that you know.  She’s habitually late for work, which doesn’t really affect you, but her tardiness extends to all of her other appointments, including getting together with you.  There’s fashionably late and then there’s Grace.  You spent two hours waiting for her to show up to her own birthday last year, after you had already told everyone to get there half an hour later than you told Grace.  Everybody was just glad that she showed up period though, because she’s also extremely guilty of last-minute cancellations and making plans to make actual plans, but then never calling you to cement those plans, which she probably would have ended up cancelling anyway.

The thing is, Grace is so damn earnest that you have an usually difficult time at staying upset with her for very long.  So when she calls you up to tell you that she feels like you haven’t talked in forever and she really misses you and she LOVES your new Facebook profile picture and that you should never stop wearing navy and that the two of you NEED to go out and buy navy things or any colored things at the Banana Republic and Gap sale this weekend and then you should totally have an Arrested Development marathon before the new season comes out on Netflix, you know that she genuinely means all of the things that she says.

Navy bluth, amirite?

And when she ends the conversation saying that she just needs to check when she’s working before you settle on a day for your shopping/Tv binge and that she’ll text you tomorrow or maybe Wednesday if she can’t get to the store until then because she has tomorrow off but she’s supposed to hang out with her sister who’s such a complete pain because she just broke up with her boyfriend and is just miserable to be around but is still her sister and everything and that regardless she’ll definitely be texting you tomorrow or Wednesday, you know that she fully intends to do it, you’re just not surprised when you don’t hear anything from her until the next week.

The other thing about Grace is that she flutters around seemingly unaware of her flakiness.  From Grace’s perspective, all of these people, events, and things are constantly being sprung upon her and she can’t help but feel like she’s trapped in this hurricane of situations that are all out of her control and that she’s always one step behind, desperately trying, but failing, to get everything together. She is genuinely surprised every time she overextends herself and leaves you hanging.

At least she left you hanging at a restaurant with a decent wine selection.

Of course, you know Grace.  You know that she’s just involved with too many things and that she sets herself up to fail by creating all of these obligations for herself that she couldn’t possibly all meet and that she is just spread too thin among all of them.  And that her time management fucking sucks.  Because of how heartfelt everything Grace does is, you forgive her time and time again for this flaw.  And sometimes it really hurts because it makes you feel like you’re not important to Grace, who’s supposed to be one of your few really good friends.  You’ve known each other for a long time, and she’s been there for you during some pretty dark times.  That, along with all of the things that you have in common should be more important than the fact that she doesn’t always follow through, right?

You give Grace slack because of her ignorance of her weakness.  You tell yourself that she doesn’t know any better and that if the day ever comes where she is able to take an honest look at herself and accept that she has too much shit going on and needs to prioritize certain things and make commitments to the things that matter and learn to say no to her desires and those of others, that she will actually do it.  To say that Grace is ignorant of this means that you’re also saying that, however intelligent she may be, she has a somewhat crippling lack of self-awareness, which means that she might be equally blind to her greatest strengths and her biggest desires.

Get it together, girl!

You also excuse Grace’s behavior because you yourself have a pretty major character flaw.  Let’s say that you always date the wrong kind of person.  Specifically, you end up dating people who you know are incapable of making you happy.  They have nothing in common with you, or at least nothing important in common with you.  They share none of your deepest dreams or aspirations and you would never dream of having them read your favorite book, because you know that they are incapable of taking anything away from it.  Unlike Grace, you’re completely aware of what you’re doing.  You know that you keep dating these people because they’re there, because it’s simple and easy and it temporarily helps you forget about how alone you feel, while simultaneously making you feel even more alienated by the lack of meaningful connections you have with other people.  Despite being aware of your self-sabotaging dating habits, you continue to them.  Self-awareness has changed nothing for you, other than kind of making you hate yourself.

So, what’s worse: To be oblivious of a major character flaw or to recognize it, yet do nothing to change it?  What good is knowledge when it fails to change any negative behavior and only gives your more heartache?  Is it indeed easier to forgive ignorance or in doing so, are we just infantilizing someone who is supposed to be an equal?  Which is more difficult to witness in others?  Which would you rather be stuck experiencing yourself?  Deep shit, I know.



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