Monday, September 15, 2008

Convoluted Thinking

Recently I decided that maybe I had not read a book by James Fenimore Cooper called The Prairie. Apparently I had read it because it was well marked in my handwriting from 1967 when I was still in school—college. But memory of plots apparently isn’t any more my strong suit than concise language was Cooper’s. It takes honest desire and patience to read this book. It reminds me of another book I read this spring called Thelma: A Norwegian Princess. That was the book for which my Grandmother Pollard was named by the midwife. It is a wonderful story full of moral premises and character, but even if the type were as large as print for semi-blind folks, the loquacious author enjoyed words over much, I think.

Sometimes I think that part of the trouble with our world today is the overuse of pussyfooting around with words and terms. If I am responsible for a problem, I will willingly take the blame/credit for the blunder and face the irritated party. But patience is not my long suit. Words that piddle around the bush just don’t cut any male bovine excreta with me. Basically, what my thoughts are tonight is that people should take responsibility for their own flippin’ actions or lack thereof. As a teacher that might sound pretty harsh, but we all make choices that affect what happens to us in life or in any given situation.

While I was reading e-mail tonight, I came across an article from Heartlight that talked about how we need to feel that we are given the approval—the approbation—of someone who matters to us. For many of us, that commendation needs to come from a father that we respect and love. IF we don’t feel we ever really gained his approval, of if we can’t really respect that man, we have a problem with our self-image—and sometimes with our self-talk. Men who have that problem will be the ones who have to portray themselves to others as an authority figure with big bold letters—or constant reiterations of their authority. Women handle things entirely from a different sphere. They will substitute something or someone for their father or the image they have of their father.

All this nice neat psychological stuff makes sense in words, but it doesn’t make a bit of difference to the person who deals with someone whose ego needs to be propped up or someone who still hurts like a little child for lack of loving approval. Fang asked me tonight if I would leave him if we lost everything like some of these people who have lost homes, vehicles--everything they owned basically. When I told him why I married him, he just about fell over laughing, and then he told me I should have married him for the money. Maybe so, but I married him—in truth—because I trusted him. Sometimes we sense more than we can actually see in a situation. When men and women marry, it should be—in my estimation—for trust.

So I have beaten around a couple of bushes so far, but maybe I can get to the point. Each person is responsible not only for his or her actions, but also for his or her perceptions—let me put that in caps: each person is responsible for his or her own PERCEPTIONS! More than once lately I have heard that we have to deal with perceptions and how people’s perceptions are THEIR REALITY. My thoughts are that this approach is so much avoidance of realities as to be unfair, unjust, irresponsible, and unrealistic. For instance, my MIL has to be told regularly that her family comes to visit her. To her, time is simply years. So she is reminded in order to help her with her convoluted thinking because her mind suffers from dementia. As far as I know, not one of my students suffers from dementia. Stress, yes. Dementia, no.

As a teacher I have spent years trying to make some things understandable to students. Some things are difficult to explain—English spelling rules come to mind. Even so, when people have trouble understanding another person’s INTENT, then plain language takes precedence over diplomacy or so-called tact. Tell things as they are, as they can be, as they should be. Then let others make their choices based on those terms. We don’t have to interchange terms. We don’t even have to give analogies to explain circumstances or expectations. Convoluted thinking happens in nursing homes and with those whose minds are otherwise under the influence of certain distractions of life. Most situations in life are best explained just as Sergeant Joe Friday would have said it, “Just the facts, Ma’am—just the facts.”

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