Friday, December 31, 2010

Back In Recovery

Aah, Family.  Nothing more delightfully exhausting, is there?

There was a song once (maybe more than once) about how a person just wanted to sleep in his own bed again.  To say that I could relate would be understating things, although the songwriter's version was apparently at the end of a bad turn with a woman, mine was after a few days of my self-induced Not Your Routine thing at my parent's house.  And let me be clear--they are great people, community leaders, talented and nice as all get-out, but after the 900th time hearing your parent declare something "stupid" (or any variation thereof) and being silent about the fact that you flat-out disagree, a person gets a bit twitchy.  And then you have a few (several) beers or some pills to calm the twitchy.  When I got home and flopped sideways on the mattress in my own room, sans chemical enhancements, I became unconscious immediately and stayed that way for almost 12 hours--didn't even care to find a blanket the entire time.


Now then, is the problem is that my parents think things are "stupid" that I do just about every day (including living in a city as opposed to a wind-swept prairie)?  Or is the problem that I choose not to tell them that I think them impossibly small-minded?  After all, living where they live, "small-minded" is a survival technique.  It's rough as hell out there--small population, harsh landscape--and you won't survive it without friends.  Well, when there are only a couple hundred of you and the choice is agree or be out in the (literal, bitter) cold, you are more likely to form some opinions that might not fly when confronted with a more diverse population.  Here is an example of what I mean--a class mate of my sister's moved away and became a successful doctor and my mother admitted to being surprised by that because "he always seemed so backwards."  And various other entrepreneurs (or nationalities...), when their names are uttered, it is with disgust.  How dare they?  How dare they be different, and be successful at it?  

There is an old marketing credo which goes like this:  "Everybody drinks Coke".  That is to say, in almost every populated corner of this earth, you can buy Coca-Cola.  The Coca-Cola marketing campaign has convinced every living soul on the planet that they are, in fact, The Real Thing.  In marketing, we hold this example most high, because, well, it means that you can sell anything to anybody if you just keep at it long enough.  There have been a couple of occasions in my life when I have heard someone declare that "you can't do that here" because this is (insert name of town)  and a person of influence has, at one time, declared it undesirable.  When you hear that sort of thing, you make a decision--do you tell them "Everybody drinks Coke" and set about the business of proving them wrong, or, just say "screw it" with the full realization that you're going to have to excuse yourself from there before long or succumb to the twitchiness?

My home town has a strong "you can't do that here, this is (insert name of town)" vibe--not that anyone is nasty about it, but that may be only because nobody ever confronts them with a Coke.  Things are a certain way, they've been that way a long time, and rarely do they falter.  Why should they?  Things are working just fine the way they are, right?  Well, yes, but it's so different everywhere else!  If I had never left, I might still feel the same, but, I did.  I left, and, spent 20-odd years looking at things that were in direct contrast with my upbringing.  Somehow, I managed to thrive despite the fact that everything I've done has been "stupid".

Of course, it may also be true that it is I who is the small-minded comfort junkie and all of what I found so painful was just me being annoyed because I couldn't flop on a couch with whatever my current project was, a handheld social net/email/texting device at the ready, and watch Hugh Laurie's American accent show for six whole days in a row.  That kind of thing can send me right over the edge.

1 comment:

  1. Spending a few evenings with you over a few beers telling me to just relax and bite my tongue about the small minded would probably be really good for me.

    Instead I tend to get really uptight about it right away (an hour, fifteen minutes, 10 seconds) instead of just a little twitchy and it tends to make me not go visiting when I could/should. Or it tends to make me really hate the holidays and have minor panic attacks shortly before we are supposed to leave for holiday events. These panic attacks do not amuse my husband. :)

    Just reading this made me feel ... calmer ... about it all somehow. Of course, the holidays are over for now, too.


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