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Are some of us authors of our own tragedies?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by A Vestigial Mote, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    I wanted to post about something that happened this morning while I was out on my morning walk, to see what others thought of my take on it. As often as I may seem to just plough ahead in my own opinions and ideas, I do like to read others feedback on various things, get other viewpoints and use those to temper or hone my own, depending on what I find compelling in them. So, onto the details:

    While standing on a corner, waiting for the "walk" light to turn, an average-looking man walked past me on the sidewalk and I raised my eyes to him (I had been looking at my phone) and I said "good morning" innocuously enough. I got the reply "What's so good about it?" which was slightly garbled for me as there was a train going by a couple blocks away, so I asked the man to repeat it, and of course, I had heard correctly.

    So, as the man walked on, I said "Sorry you feel that way. Take care of yourself." I watched him for some moments - letting the light turn once again and missing my opportunity to cross, and saw him go into the door of a local business down the block. When he emerged he was carrying a black plastic bag, and he headed straight for one of the downtown garbage cans - assumedly looking for bottles or cans to turn in for deposit money.

    Well, I was just about to head home - so I made a beeline for my place and decided I would grab this man something and take it to him in order to try and cheer him up (I know - how seemingly uncharacteristic of me, right?). I settled on a rice pudding cup that I had purchased 2 of just the day before, and which I thoroughly enjoy. I packed a plastic spoon in a sandwich bag, careful not to touch anything more than I needed to, and headed out.

    I caught up with him just down the street from where I last saw him, at a convenience store, where he was peering into the garbage cans there. I walked up to him, and told him that I had continued thinking on him after our encounter, and that I had an offering I hoped would help cheer him up. He apologized for his words earlier (not that he needed to) and said that it was actually going to turn out to be a pretty good day because he had just gotten a call that his car was going to be fixed today. He refused the rice pudding (more for me!) stating that it just wasn't his thing.

    Then this is where my mind started churning on the idea that is the thread's title. He asked me if I would want to buy vaping liquids. I was only slightly put off, figuring he was asking if I would run into the convenience store with him and buy him some (since I was apparently up for being charitable and all). I told him I didn't have my wallet on me (truth, as I don't carry it on these walks), and noticed that he had been reaching into his pocket. Then he offered me a cigarette from the other pocket, and I realized he was actually asking if I wanted to buy the vaping liquids from him. I told him I didn't smoke, so no thank you on the cigarette. And then in a last ditch effort (I by then realized that all this was to repay my show of some small amount of good-will in offering the rice pudding earlier) he produced a full can of drink from his pocket named "Monaco" and asked if I would want that. I said no thank you to that as well, and asked if it was an energy drink (which I do not drink). He sort of laughed incredulously (it seemed as if he were inexplicably chagrinned somewhat by my lack of knowledge or interest in his particular wares of choice), and told me that no, it was an alcoholic drink. He then thanked me for trying to cheer him up, walked into the convenience store, and I walked home.

    Something just didn't sit right with me about the encounter. The man was obviously hard-up for means of survival (digging through garbage for cans), but had upon his person all manner of non-necessity items of a vice-like nature. His day was starting out poorly, apparently, and his being in a situation heavy enough to have to dig for cans in public garbage during a pandemic was a likely culprit to blame for some of his angst. But with his obvious penchant for acquiring unnecessary items, it occurred to me that he might not be too invested in turning his situation around. Likely using these sorts of "quick-fix" items to ameliorate his poor situation - but in turn very possibly only ensuring the propagation of that very situation.

    So my ultimate question - is it too judgmental of me to come to these types of thoughts? To wonder on this man's plight and what he might think of it, and expect that he could likely be better off if it weren't for certain aspects of his character or outlook? Should it be considered entirely normal for people to partake of unnecessary, possibly unhealthy things when they could very obviously be spending the much-needed funds for such on items that actually matter or might better satisfy their needs for well-being? Does it seem that the man's outlook and treatment of his situation is simply healthy and fine and nothing more should be thought about it?

    Ultimately, my thoughts roam to the idea that this man is metaphorically walking around in mud, expecting nothing but mud from everyone and everything around him, buying it to spread on himself, calling everything mud and then complaining about all the mud he encounters. Too harsh of me? Making a judgment call without the whole picture? Tell me anything.
     
  2. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    Interesting story. My thought is that for whatever reason, he's living on the edge of poverty, and has an endless series of games going in the hopes of generating a sufficient income to not starve to death or die freezing or in the heat.

    It reminds me of a short story, in which the protagonist just can't understand why the poor man he buys dinner for isn't grateful...it hinges on the fact that most charity is actually done with a desire of the giver to receive gratitude from the recipient...
     
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  3. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    A kind gesture on your part. But it seems the guy doesn't want and help. Not much can be done about it. If nothing else you cheered up his day a little.

    Its very much like a clochard (vagrant) who passes through our village every week or so. Sullen guy who churners to himself and plays with his imaginary dog. People tend to ignore him but i made a moment to chat with him. He is really quite interesting and well educated with a extremely surprising story that I've only recently learned.
    I've offered him food, both from home and the village shop which seems to offend him so i don't offer any longer. It's now become routine, he'll walk into the village, sit on the same bench in the square. If i spot him I'll go and spend 5 minutes with him. Whether i speak with him or not, within 20 or 30 minutes he's gone for a week or 10 days.

    The surprising story. He is a man of independent means, owns a chateau and land that is leased put to farm, he can do whatever he wants. He likes to walk, he rarely goes home but sleeps wherever his days ramblings take him. That's the life he wants.
     
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  4. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    You've asked a lot of good questions. I don't have any simple answers but I do have a few thoughts.

    First, it's quite human to have such questions. I would not be judgemental about my own thoughts.

    Also, I've found people are very complex and often do not do what is best for their own health and happiness. It shows up in many ways such as a person who marries the same kind of person who caused unhappiness and even injury the last time.

    As @ChristineM recounted, we may not know initially what is going on with someone. The apparent might not be the reality.

    There have been arguments in the psychology profession about what is really healthy behavior and mental states.

    Sometimes when I see someone who appears to be in distress, the only thing that comes to me is to silently offer my well wishes and prayers without intervening.
     
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  5. RestlessSoul

    RestlessSoul Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, he’s in the mud. Probably knows it too.

    A friend of mine has an expression, “**** stinks but it’s warm”.

    Maybe this guy will find the way out, if he wants out and if someone who has been where he is turns up to show him how.

    In the meantime, random acts of kindness like yours have incalculable value. So I would say, keep being kind, leave the outcome to the universe.
     
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  6. Hermit Philosopher

    Hermit Philosopher Selflessly here for you

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    Dear A Vestigial Mote

    In my view, we can and do have our ideas about how things occur, but it is not our place to judge one another.

    “Character” is likely a consequence of accumulated, personal experience and not as fixed as we may feel.

    I tend to believe that if I had experienced what my brother had from his perspective, I’d like been very much like him, because there is nothing uniquely wise or good about my person, except for what my own life has given me and I would not have this, had I been another.

    If I for example had been all alone in the world and - for whatever reason - had had to live on the streets of a city where everyone on those streets was off their face on drugs, would I truly be able to coped with that in a sober state of mind? My guess is that I would not. Does that mean that I am of weak “character”? Perhaps, but I myself do not think so. I am simply human.

    I really do believe that if the life of the man you encountered had been more like your own, he would likely have been more like you - and vise-versa.


    Humbly
    Hermit
     
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  7. Hermit Philosopher

    Hermit Philosopher Selflessly here for you

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    At the same time, @A Vestigial Mote, I would add that we are always the “authors” of our own stories* and that is precisely the solution to your man’s “issues”.

    When we manage to understand that we do not need to become that which we are most inclined to be, we free ourselves from our own predicaments.

    *) We must beware the stories that we tell (ourselves) about ourself; they have great impact on our being.


    Humbly
    Hermit
     
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  8. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    In my case I was just truly hoping to improve this man's outlook on at least the day at hand. As he asked "what's good about it?" I realized my own perception of the day was radically different from his own. Chock full of possibility, and fantastic weather on top. I wanted that for him, rather than what I felt he must be feeling to have such a response. And, honestly, to have such a response, it indicates that he'd at least like it to be better - otherwise, his bad day would be just fine to him, and there would be either no comment or something positive about how bad it was! Haha!
     
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  9. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    Interesting about the man you know. I would imagine your treatment of him gives him some satisfaction or hope of some kind. There was another man I used to walk with frequently around town who was nearly homeless. On the first day I met him, I remember meeting eyes and he asking me "Are you short on friends, like me?" because he had noticed me walking around town alone quite often. It was an interesting first exchange, and I could tell he was hopeful that I wouldn't be just another of those who would act strangely to his attempts to socialize and ultimately ignore him.

    I think some people isolate themselves because the interactions they have with people tend to so often be negative.
     
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  10. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    It's hard sometimes to do this, because I esteem my own circumstances, or outlook, etc. to be so much better off. I see people lamenting and complaining and generally disliking life and often trying to escape from it - and I do none of these things. And I feel that they wouldn't be complaining if they didn't want something better - and since I generally enjoy life, take strife or bad circumstance in stride and always look toward the next moment, I figure I've somehow got that "something better." It's hard not to want to share it - but I do know that people tend to get very defensive when you make it about something you see that you feel is causing them trouble. They even get upset and think you're "tooting your own horn" when you try and relay what you feel makes your own outlook work. And so yes - you almost have to stay silent, let them observe (if they are apt to do so) and come to you. Otherwise, its something like proselytizing I suppose.
     
  11. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    I often wonder about things like this, and it may very well be the case. However, if someone wants "something better", and that's what some of the rest of us have either through circumstance or by application of a particular outlook/perspective, then I also wonder often about how one might go about sharing such things without offending the other, or making them feel that you're judging them for "doing something wrong." I can acknowledge that I go through some of the same things these others feel or experience, perhaps to a lesser degree in some instances, but perhaps more in others - I mean, we all have trials and tribulations throughout our lives - but I feel there is certain knowledge that provides certain perspective on things, and allows for one to cast unwanted thoughts or feelings into the ether - to claim to the universe that these things just don't matter, and therefore get over them extremely quickly.

    For example, in my life and experience, I have developed a keen sense of the true "harm" that words can do. Words from a person to another, I mean - and not necessarily words that affect public perception and might cause some actual detriment to life and livelihood. I have come to the conclusion that no man's words alter or affect what I actually am - therefore there is no "pain" I must take on in anyone relaying anything to me of what would otherwise be a "hurtful" nature. Words are a triviality that can be ignored at will. It is to the point that even if something were to happen that would normally "hurt" another person will very likely have zero effect on me. For example, let's say my parents come to me and tell me that they are very disappointed in me, and that they wish I hadn't been born. I would, quite honestly, likely laugh in their faces and let them know that the conversation is not, at all, worth my time. I love my parents - but their judgment of my worth means absolutely nothing in any capacity. If I am good with what I am, and what I have done - then there is nothing more that matters. If, of course, I have hurt them, and I am not okay with this, then such an exchange would take on another tone entirely. But therein lies another secret, I feel. Stay good with what you are, and what you have done - and then you are basically impervious to such things.

    Anyway - it is this type of knowledge, outlook, or understanding that I feel could possibly be imparted. However, many people don't want to hear it, and do not believe me. They are so used to being "hurt" by various things - having let it happen already, and taken on the burden, and use that burden to help explain the negative aspects of their circumstance - it becomes an easy scapegoat. It seems to be a security to them of some kind at that point. And to try and take away that security is seen as a breech of good will.
     
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  12. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    Reminds me of a guy who spent his days cycling around Tucson. Just about everyone had seen him. He was bald and wore nothing but blue shorts, as he could be seen all over town, although few people knew who he was or what his story was. When he died, there was an article in the local news about him (and people would say "Oh, it's that guy"). Apparently, he had also inherited quite a bit of money so he didn't have to work, but all he seemed to do was ride around on his bicycle.
     
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