Change. Some of us are afraid of it, others are clambering for its embrace. I am in the middle, as I’m sure many others are. That is to say, I don’t particularly enjoy big changes, but they’re going to happen anyway. I acknowledge and welcome that process.
But, what if an expected change doesn’t occur? What if my frustration is built out upon this notion that things will get better and they don’t? What if what I feared would happen is exactly what happened? There is a big nervous buildup, and you hope like mad, but you know under your skin the truth: nothing will change. Even when I’m scared to death of it, sometimes I really want it; and the only time I want it is when it doesn’t happen.
Over the course of time, you expect changes. Even those of us who are averse to it expect changes in other people. Sometimes it’s a relief that they are still as we remember them, but other times we are disheartened because they seem as if they have not matured.
Which is not to say I want to change people. Everybody knows that’s impossible. But I always have wanted to have a positive influence on someone’s life, and that I’m not accomplishing. It honestly breaks my heart. I’m not trying to change a fundamental self; rather, I’m attempting to encourage them to be a more willing and open-minded person. I also want to understand them. I feel like we can reach a rapport if we could just ignore our sensitivities and make a genuine effort to understand one-another truly and deeply, instead of spouting off leftist and rightist bias. We’re people with opinions, not opinions with mouths. Yet it takes an incredibly strong effort to overcome beliefs so ingrained in us. To truly open our eyes we all have to swallow the medicine without sugar.
I want to show that you don’t have to be a jackass to a get a rise. You don’t have to be the comedian in the room to get attention. You don’t have to be so outlandish in everything you do in order to get what you want. You can accomplish things modestly and humbly, and in the long term feel much better about it. You can actively pursue an opinion without insult and slander and hatred.
That probably sounds like I’m a blowhard who just never has any fun. While I am, that’s not saying you can’t cut loose. I think fun and laughter are really all most of us have in the world. Trouble is best emotionally countered with humor; and there’s always trouble. But you don’t have to be so eccentric about it all the time. Fun is great and exciting and brings joy to the world, but there’s a line you cross between funny and arrogant and offensive. That line is very hard to draw.
I know nothing of the comedy career, so I’m not qualified to speak on it, but perhaps we can apply a bit of Poe’s Law here. Poe’s Law states that a strong parody of religious fundamentalism is impossible to distinguish from actual religious fundamentalism. Regardless of your feelings for this statement, I think “religion” can be substituted for “comedy”. Comedy is making fun of yourself and others, but it’s always good-natured. When you make light of your own triumphs instead of mistakes, it begins to cross that line.
In other words, doing something funny in front of an audience and then talking about it to the same audience is part of this line. They saw it. Cool people don’t look at explosions. Cool comedians don’t tell the same audience what they just did. Don’t talk about your successes in being funny. That’s meta-comedy. It can be hilarious, but it is delicately balanced. And oftentimes, it is hard to tell whether a comic is truly self-centered or parodying those who are.
So, why did I bring that up? What does comedy have to do with change? The answer lies in offensive, arrogant, personalities that should have learned more humility by this point. Comedy that is downright self-absorbed, and more than once genuinely offensive because their true personality matches what they say. They are not witty or parodying or making clever observations, but instead are full of themselves and seem reserved to reveal their own misgivings.
I say this all in the context of seeing some old friends yesterday. I was nervous because I hadn’t seen these people in a long time. I was nervous because I wanted them to be still accepting of me and yet changed a bit so that our relationships would be better and they might become more in-touch with who they are and who everybody else is. But by and large that did not happen. I was displeased, and pretty sad of heart, but I knew that this was exactly how it would be.
I won’t deny that I’ve changed, and for the worse. I’m jaded and full of mid-life harumph. Maybe they haven’t changed, but maybe I’ve changed too much for them to accept me. Maybe the only change at all has been in me. I would like to think I’ve matured and now see through some of the old charades, but I’m probably just a grumpy basement dweller. I don’t belong in their lives any more, and they saw it better and sooner than I did.
But, who am I to judge these people? I am not them. Maybe they see something I don’t. This might really be the life for them. And if it makes them happy (and nobody knows what makes someone happy other than the self), I shouldn’t complain.