Fishwrap Wednesday

Dear J-

One week to go, huh? It’s likely to be a quiet Christmas this year and so much the better for us, although I indistinctly remember years with tons of presents all piled under the tree, the thousand million different little things we got and why am I so worried about what the kids will think about it now? I know. Like I said, it’s going to be quiet — meaning low-key — this year my in-laws asked if we were making it down to Orange County and I wasn’t sure if that was possible: time off, time spent on the road, life moving forward and our Christmas tradition, if you will, broken this year. The longer you spend thinking about what you’ve done and what could be the more crazy you will end up.

We have to stow our biases and let the things that make us uncomfortable flow over and around instead. You may not want to have that person sit next to you on the train. Or to talk to you. Or talk in that way. Are you allowed to work in a way that makes other people uncomfortable, even if you may not know what or how it is doing so? I suppose you can make the argument that it’s a free country and anything is fair game but what you write off as essentially harmless doesn’t necessarily feel like it to everyone. Then again, what can you do about it, either? Put your fear away, keep moving forward. It’s funny how anything outside the norms — or what’s socially accepted — is so universally off-putting, even when it’s your own reactions you need to suppress.

I keep thinking that there’s something wrong with me every time I’m uncomfortable: it’s something that I’ve done, or it’s the way I react. That is the way of the introvert: find something in yourself you can control and control it; keep it neat and tidy, or at least straighten it up so you know where it is. We take for granted our social conventions that keep our interactions short and impersonal when it’s strangers on a train, but we spend too much time worrying about what we can’t fix.

Mike

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