I watched a series of texts fly across my phone screen and one thought crossed my mind, “misunderstood again.”
That wouldn’t have happened in a real conversation because tone, body language and facial expression would have provided the clarity those few pixels didn’t.
It irritated me to be misunderstood when my intent was so very different from the way it was being portrayed and it irritated me because I am a decent writer.
The former didn’t bother me as much as the latter did because I hold my writing to a higher standard and I wondered how I could have blown this one.
Two minutes of thought made it clear where and how the disconnect came from and reminded me that under normal conditions the level of my irritation would be excessive.
But things aren’t normal now and thus I find myself silently providing permission to myself to want to tear the doors off of the hinges.
Though the 10 year-old boy that lives inside me wants to see how many doors/walls we can knock down and destroy the adult prefers not to have to pay for wanton destruction and chooses to throw iron around in the gym.
That reduces the likelihood of getting into the sort of stupid trouble almost middle age men should avoid both physically and financially.
Retreat Or Advance
One of the boys tells me he wishes he could be like me and not give a damn what people think,.
“You’re nuts and you just don’t care what people think. In more than 30 years I don’t think I have seen you listen to anything people say about you.”
I smile and tell him it is not always true.
“I am human. There are moments where I want to be the cool guy. Moments where I wonder how I can be so damn awkward. I figure something about that is what led me to develop a thicker skin and just not care what people have to say.”
“Dude, that is the thing. I never want to be the center of attention and hate speaking in front of crowds. How do you do that?”
I laugh again and tell him there are plenty of moments where I feel self conscious and want to just hang out in my own cave.
“You have two choices in life, retreat or advance. Grow or stay stagnant. I am not good at stagnation. I am too curious to not ask questions. Some might even say I have too big a mouth not to speak.”
We both laugh and the conversation moves into work, children and the question of will we ever retire.
I tell him about watching Seinfeld in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and how that is the kind of retirement I want.
When he asks me if Seinfeld said anything about this being his retirement I tell him I am not sure but it sort of strikes me like it.
He is working, but it is not work.
It is following passion and engaging in something he loves.
“I want to be as effortless at communicating as he is.”
“Josh, a lot of that is natural talent. You can’t just be like that.”
“That is true, but it is also 10,000 hours of work. Talent is nothing without commitment to improving. It is why I keep banging out the posts. It is why I stare at my stupid blogs and think about whether I should change themes and consider ways to improve my posts.
He didn’t get to be “Seinfeld” overnight. I won’t get to be whatever/whomever overnight either. Hell, I might have to completely revamp my writing style. There is no secret, it is just hard work.”
Tales Of Fiction And Tales Of Truth
“I am going to be furious if you blog about things that aren’t for sharing with other people. You don’t have my permission to put it out there.”
It is too bad we’re not face to face because they ought to see my lip curl and the smile break across my face.
Did they really just send this to me expecting that I could be told what I am allowed to write about. Do they have the faintest idea about who I am or any sense that shared experiences are just that, shared.
There is no ownership.
If I want to share tales of truth and call it fiction or share fiction and call it truth that is how it is going to be.
Not because I am being difficult or adversarial but because asking me not to write is like asking me to choke.
I know from experience what it is like not to have air, why would I do so intentionally. Why would I limit myself when my gut says this is what I am supposed to do.
And that is how a simple misunderstanding lead to a life altering moment in which I gave up a simple life.
Truth is I tried to get that simple life back but there was no putting that genie back in the bottle. Sure, we pretended to but it didn’t work.
And it won’t, at least not as currently constituted.
The only way to ‘fix’ it is to reach across the aisle and hold hands–this ought to be fun.