What I call honesty, you feel is tactless. What you call caring I say is control. And one woman’s fabulous-dahling taupe is another woman’s plain old mushroom. Where do we find common ground, why can’t we agree, and what is the answer?
Each week during construction, I read my blog post out loud to Mark. The difference between reading on the screen and saying words aloud is profound; try it and you’ll understand. After I read him last week’s post he quietly commented, “and where was I in all this?”
“Well. . .you were there” I replied a tad defensively.
“Yes” he said. “I was there. A horse, a HUSBAND and cancer. . .remember?”
I re-read it and he was absolutely correct. I had obliterated him from the picture, assuming everyone would know he was by my side, making things happen and loving me, because he is as much a part of me as life itself. But from Mark’s perspective you didn’t already know that.
Then I had a brainwave. I would re-write the post from his point of view by thinking how he thought and giving those thoughts a voice. It wasn’t an easy exercise, and as I set to work, I realised being with someone for thirty years does not mean you know very much about them at all. I translated Elaine into Mark and got something back that was neither; I got it completely utterly up-sh*t-creek-without-a-paddle wrong.
I love writing my blog and your reciprocal comments have boosted my confidence, and pushed me into taking writing more seriously than I anticipated. Ego is a strange thing; when common sense screams NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ego smiles its sly little smile, claps with glee and says oh yes, yes yes YES, and I became mere putty in its hands. Without considering the content realistically, I read aloud what I was writing about Mark. To Mark. And his perspective was not as mine. Pride cometh before a fall? Never have I fallen so far, so fast, and without a handrail in sight.
Perspective is borne of upbringing, experience and personality. Internet trolls and political fundamentalism are an outcome of free speech, but like everything else we humans do, we flout the boundaries of respect. However, respect is only a perspective. We all have different starting points so it’s not a competitive sport; all we can offer is our interpretation. It’s another of those intangibles, but this week I have learned that to understand someone else’s perspective, mine needs a lot less ego and a lot more flexibility. Life. A learning curve or what?
9 thoughts on “perspective”
I went back and re-read last week’s post, as I felt a bit confused when I read this one. I wondered what made Mark feel left out of that post in particular, since I assume he doesn’t require a “mention” every week. What I noticed was that you described a fairly epic arc of effort, creativity and persistence during which you used the words “I” and “we” interchangeably. I assumed when you said “we” you meant you and Mark, but in my opinion he’s right that he was left so vague as to really not be much of a factor. (You did specifically say he was there when you looked at the venue you decided to lease.)
But here’s where I want to go a bit deeper, since it seems you felt bad and “fell” from your ego-driven perch and needed to make it up to him. This perspective is just my own, based on my own struggles to integrate identity and intimacy, but I’d love to be able to hear someone I love express disappointment in me without immediately feeling like I had done something wrong, something I needed to fix, and feel shame about. The most helpful phrase I have found to create that bridge to understanding is, “Thank you for telling me how you feel.” Then we go on to actually talk about it, rather than make all the assumptions I list above. We don’t have to fix our loved one’s disappointment in us, but simply accepting it and truly hearing it is sometimes more difficult than condemning ourselves for “causing” it. The conversations that result from accepting the feelings that are being shared are much more interesting and productive than the ones that result from taking the complaint as evidence of your selfishness or lack of caring and feeling terrible about it. I hope my point isn’t buried under a mound of words! Receiving another’s perspective can be an expansive experience rather than a corrective one, and feelings shared can be a gift even if the feelings themselves are painful.
“Thankyou for telling me how you feel” Susan.
No blame, no lack of discussion, just a vignette from life, recounted with honesty
Thank you! My perspective obviously led me to try to “fix” something that wasn’t broken, thanks for your gracious response.
There are feelings and then there is the act of writing memoir. I have lots of feelings for you and for Mark. All of them bright and shiny. I’m sure I see you both romantically, as you reflect back on my mismatched life and you’d both love my biography of your life together. Too bad it would be fiction.
As for writing memoir, I did some very deep diving in mine. I studied brain science which will tell you that we don’t remember the event, but only our memory of the event which is not usually accurate. So, I wrote my memoir knowing it could never be strictly true, even as I struggled with accuracy. I tried to describe the events un-emotionally, without my own colors on top. When readers commented back to me, they had filled in their own colors. Did I miss the target or did I open a door?
I don’t think we can ever tell each other’s stories but what if that isn’t wrong? Can Mark ever know who he is to you? Memoir is a very challenging genre. It’s easy to make up a story about cats that can talk and drive cars but divining our relationships is unknowable, or at least, different from each perspective. When I was a few cheery light chapters into my memoir a friend read it, and told me I had left out the main plot of my life. It was devastating criticism. And damn, when I caught my breath, I hated that he was right and started over. Other times, I got critical comments that strengthened my convictions. Writing memoir is wandering a dark path where you meet each of the Seven Deadly Sins and try them on for size. What if that isn’t wrong?
(Great job describing the splat. More bumps ahead, but we have horses and have caught air before.)
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Do my best thinking while driving to the barn and while mucking. Just know you understand.
So what kept coming into my thoughts about this piece , the vision of YOU opening your trench coat to your naked self.
You do that over and over again. Show your reader who you are and let us in. No smoke, no mirrors and no one behind the curtain.
Now go dance in the kitchen.
More, please !
doing my best to oblige Sarah!
If I had to actually think when I Write my pages would usually be left blank. I do think perspective can be so varied from person to person that it can be difficult to put Ego aside and try to view things from the perspective of another. Even if we’ve known them a very long time, it can still be a mysterious journey. I don’t get into someone else’s Head very well as it’s almost a challenge to get into my own. The Man knows that sometimes he’s in my Blog, so does the rest of the Family… but not being Bloggers they realize I do mine for me, for my Love of Writing and Photography. I was so glad the Grandson I raised set mine up when he was a mere 9 year old and schooled me on what a Blog even was! *LOL* He’s 20 now and so I only have his 14 Year Old Sister here to bail me out of Tech troubles I might run into as I navigate cyberspace.
“I don’t get into someone else’s Head very well as it’s almost a challenge to get into my own”
ooh I love that sentence