Tuesday Tuneup 41

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of greater efficacy.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. I would like to be more effective.

Q. In what way?

A. In many ways.

Q. Such as?

The Answerer takes a breath.  

A. Such as in my ability to help people.  To make a difference in their lives.   I mean, a positive difference — not a negative one.   Sometimes I just feel like my influence, try as I may to be helpful, winds up being hurtful.  I stick my foot in my mouth at some juncture along the way, and I wind up feeling — I don’t know.   Like a failure, I guess.

Q. Are you a failure?  I mean, objectively speaking?

A. I suppose that depends on what it means to succeed.

Q. What does it mean to succeed?


A. Very good questions, these.  I think that success must mean different things for different people.   And our notions of success must be somehow wrapped up in our ideas as to life-purpose.   We have this American idea of success here — seems to be dwindling a bit — but it’s the notion that success is related to some kind of worldly advance in monetary gain, accumulation of property, or perhaps a surge in prestige, clout, power, or influence over others.   I don’t know.  A bunch of things that I never really think about.

Q. Then why are you thinking about them?

A. I lied.  Who am I trying to fool?   I think ahout them all the time.  But usually, it’s with  aghast exasperation.

Q. Aghast exasperation?

A. Yeah.  I drop my jaw, and stand aghast at what they all seem to expect of me.  I become exasperated —  not because I don’t have those things (money, property, clout, etc.) — but because people seem to think I’m supposed to have those things in order to be “happy.”  Drives me up the wall!   How would you like it if a bunch of people were always telling you how “unhappy” you are, just because you don’t have all the things they have, even though you don’t want them anyway?  (Not to mention, you’re probably happier than they are.)

Q. Why do you care what they think?

A. I don’t know.   Seems I get asked that a lot these days.   

Q. Do they care what you think?

A. Evidently not.

Q. Then why should you care what they think?

A. Again, I don’t know.   Golden Rule, maybe?   I mean, what is this modern-day hogwash about how we should all be completely indifferent to what other people are thinking?  I get so tired of everybody telling me I care too much about what other people think.   What am I supposed to do?  Stop caring?   That seems — unloving.   Did Jesus stop caring when He went to the Cross?

Q. But isn’t there a difference between caring about them, and caring about what they think of you?

A. No!  They ARE what they’re thinking!!  Whether they think it about me, or anybody else, or the fencepost!!

Q. But do you KNOW what they are thinking?

A. Yes!  It’s obvious what they’re thinking!   They even tell me what they’re thinking!  They do that all the time.   How can I not know what they’re thinking?   They’re always telling me that I’m this worthless, no good, lazy impoverished bum who made “poor choices” throughout this poor life, otherwise with his talents and abilities he’d be living in the frickin’ Taj Mahal, or in some big mansion like that one place where I lived a long time ago.   As if I care to live in a mansion.   I’m just grateful I’m not flying a sign and sleeping under an overpass with a boatload of tweakers.   

Q. You once lived in a mansion?

A. Yes.

Q. What was it like living in a mansion?

A. Freaky is all get-out.  My landlord had more money than he knew what to do with.  He gave me this huge upstairs flat with a private bathroom and a marble floor on the shower.  The guy had two Steinway grand pianos, recording equipment  . . .

Q. Why was that freaky?   Why not beautiful?

A. I don’t know.  I just didn’t belong there somehow.  The guy had a Jaguar, a Cadillac – expensive Belgian furniture you weren’t even supposed to sit on — I just felt like it was out of my league.

Q. And what, pray tell, is your league?

A. Wrong side of the tracks, man.   Poor but thrifty parents.  Neither of them left a will.  Neither of them had anything to leave.  I’ve gravitated toward poor people all my life.  I feel a kinship with people who are impoverished, and I feel out of place among people of greater means and privilege.

Q. But why is that side of the tracks the wrong side?   Why not just — another side?

A. Because of the very thing I said at the top of this whole page.  

Q. Refresh my memory?

A. I said, I wish I could be more effective.   And it just seems like, in this society, if you don’t have at least some means, at least some privilege, you’re not effective at all.

Q. But can’t you be effective in other ways?   Like say helping a friend of yours with a personal issue?   It doesn’t cost money to do that, does it?

A. But that’s my whole frustration!   I don’t help people right.  I say the wrong things.  I get the feeling they should be talking to a professional, and yet — every time somebody’s told me that they couldn’t help me, and I needed a professional, I took it as personal rejection.

Q. Do you feel like a hypocrite?

A. Yes.  If I feel rejected because a friend is telling me that my issues are “too much of them” and that I need “professional help,” then what right do I have to suggest that some friend of mine needs professional help, rather than to talk to me?

Q. But if they talk to you, won’t you just stick your foot in your mouth again?

A. Yes.   And that very well could be the reason all those other people told me that I should see a professional.   They meant well, but they didn’t have the facile or expertise to help me.

Q. Would you consider seeing a professional?

A. I already do.  And I got a stack of bills higher than the ceiling.

Q. Andy – what is the bottom line?

A. You keep asking me that.

Q. Andy – what is the bottom line?

A. See what I mean?

Q. Andy – what is the bottom line?

Andy takes a breath.  

A. The bottom line is that, for a variety of reasons ranging from my being a social imbecile, a dork, a clutz, an unemployable space case, disabled, scraping my nuts off trying to keep up with the rising cost of living, not being able to get around, not having a car, and just generally being a weirdo,  I just don’t consider myself to be very effective.  And I would like to be more effective.

A. So with all that working against you, how can you be effective?

Q. By doing one great thing before I die.  By doing one great thing that will reach people — and that will make a positive difference in their lives.

A. Wow — do you have any idea what that thing might be?

Q. I know exactly what that thing might be!  And by the way, so do you.   Daylight’s burning.  Time’s wasting.  Money doesn’t grow on trees.  LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD. 

The Questioner is silent.

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2 thoughts on “Tuesday Tuneup 41

  1. Yea, I hear you on the mansion thing. I’ve dated a couple well off men. It’s uncomfortable. There is something just not right about enjoying excess. Key word excess. While others aren’t getting basic needs met and tons of excess is also getting thrown away and the whole thing is boiled down to merit but the whole merit argument is clearly false and yea, it’s hard to stomach that kind of ignorance. It feels like a virus you might catch and not survive.
    Big Blessings, thanks for being you
    Peace <3

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The merit argument is inhumane as well as illogical. Even in jails, where criminals are kept because they’re *supposed* to be punished, they serve them three meals a day.

    Interesting about the dating thing. I don’t think I ever dated a rich gal. My dad always tried to get me to find a wealthy woman to shack up with, somebody who might like me to serenade her on the piano. But he would advise that because he figured me for incompetent, and figured I could never make it on my own without help from somebody well off who had a vested interest in me.

    My daughter dated a guy who was well off one time — really nice guy too. The family treated her to some huge ritzy dinner, and when she naturally thanked them, they frowned at her. She later learned that in their echelon, it was considered “crass” to thank someone for a dinner. While I struggled to find the reasoning behind this more, what it does illuminate is that the mores and values of those in the upper crust differ so widely from those in Poverty Culture, that it sometimes becomes impossible to hold a conversation coherently.

    This is why Class Action exists at classism.org, where I am an (infrequent) contributor. The idea is to get people of privilege paired up with people of lack, and have them hold conversations in the presence of a trained mediator. One can always apply for the training (though I’ve not personally done so yet.) You might check them out if you’re so inclined. I have three articles there, just click on my name on the long list of bloggers to your left when you hit http://classism.org/blog

    As for the wealthy landlord with the Jag, he was actually an extremely nice guy. He was trying to help me out when he learned that I was paying $600/mo. for a dingy dusty den and having to listen to a landlord blasting Johnny Cash and 50’s rock at warp volume while I was trying to sleep. He offered me a plush, furnished upstairs room, fully carpeted, about five times the size of my previous room, for only $300 and acted like he didn’t even care if I paid the rent. He also apologized profusely for the Belgian furniture. He had ordered it hoping my piano student’s parents could sit on it during the lessons, and did not find out until delivery that the furniture was intended for visual enjoyment only, not for human sittings.

    But I doubt I could live in a situation like that nowadays, after having been on the streets for all those years. The inequity of watching people live in decadence and excess, while decent people are relegated to the streets and struggling under circumstances most people would find inconceivable, is something I would no longer be able to stomach. It’s one of the bittersweet ironies of having finally “gotten inside.” On the one hand, I am happier than almost anyone can imagine. On the other hand, I am infuriated at the classism that I never knew existed, before I saw it glaring through the darkness of the streets.

    Thanks for being you, as well. Many blessings and peace.


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