2005-05-29

Patterns & pitfalls

So, while 5M is safely tucked away in London, filing terse, wary postings, I think I'll take the opportunity to ruminate a little on relationships in general. Particularly those not involving Tom Cruise. I believe I can safely say we've pretty well tamped him down to a height much shorter than his unimpressive usual stature. Not that he didn't help out a bunch by starting to dig the hole for us...

Anyway. All of us have patterns in the way we relate to, and with, others. I'm not going to bother rehashing the nature/nurture thing here -- instead, I'll just take it as written that the way we were treated as we grew up affects what we do now. Shrinks of a certain ilk label the process of going back in one's life to look over the formation of those patterns 'family-of-origin work' -- a mild-sounding label for a process that is... difficult.

Ask anybody how they grew up, what their family was like, that sort of thing, and odds are good that they'll say how normal it was. White-picket fence, middle class, ideal. Yet ask 'em how their present-day relationships are playing out, and many will say they have issues of some sort. Unspecified, but issues. Look a little further, and most of 'em will even notice they have patterns. What they usually don't know is how influential those patterns may be, where they came from, or how to fix 'em if they're counterproductive or dangerous.

I think most people tend be kind of unware of all that. If you're happy with your life, no big deal. But if you find that some aspect of your existence keeps disappointing you in roughly the same way, time after time, well, that's cause for pause. What often happens at this stage is that we decide that having noticed the pattern, we now know how to fix it, so we go back to the next releationship vowing not to make the same mistake(s). But the awareness on which the fix is based too often is skin deep rather than soul deep. I beleive in souls.

How many people stumble through serial relationships, wondering if they have some invisible 'Kick-Me' tattoo on their foreheads? It's subtle, that. I think our expressions, even when our faces are at rest, the ways we carry ourselves, speak and gesture, all give away volumes about our personalities, strengths and weeknesses, , even to persons we've never met who're merely glancing at us from across a street. We all form instant, subconscious micro-impressions of each other every day. It's this hidden process that allows ome of us to become fast friends on sight, or dislike somebody without ever knowing why. It obviously also bears on intimate relationships. And a great deal of it is formed when our small brains are still in highly plastic states. Some of our souls have been hard-wired by our formative experiences to baffle us as adults.

I bet we've all been present when two people were introduced, and seen chemistry. Sometimes it's good chemistry. Sometimes it's a bit unnerving to watch, as one person swoops down, psychic claws extended like those of a redtail hawk, while the other does a disconcerting impression of a hapless vole in the open. Maybe it doesn't get that extreme, but some relationships are about predators and prey. If both parties are aware, of these roles, and are at peace with them, well, let the games begin. But if somebody's following a script that they don't know about, that's a problem.

I suspect, from what I've seen of 5M's postings, that she's faintly aware of some of her patterns, but like most of us, is too deeply enmeshed in 'em to see 'em fully, or to take steps to change them.

The perspective, when you're three inches away from a big hairy buffalo, tends to be limited. You may see a lotta woolly fuzz, and miss those pointy horns entirely, until they scoop you up and toss you in the air. (I realize this may seem an arcane metaphor. But suffice to say I was a much, much, younger coyote, once. And stupid. Did I mention stupid? Don't ever turn your back on one of those great, dim, slobbering beasts, is all I have to say....)

What I'm getting to, though, is the suggestion that 5M may have a tattoo on her soul. Others can see it, but she cannot. But I notice she falls in love with her own projected ideals, many of which bear only minor resemblence to the facts in front of her. I ranted about her hero-worship of the cowboy symbol a while back, because of this suspicion. I could do the same for her poet ideal, or the one that causes her to believe that the Java Joint is the place to be, because not only are the men she sees there cute, but since they're buying free trade coffee, they must have social consciences. Like all idealistic generalizations formed in half-awareness, that one, or any of the others, may lead to a whole mess o' trouble.

I wonder whether 5M is equipped to navigate the unseen pitfalls of her own ideals? And I think to myself that, given her recent rifts with family and friends, she's trying. But does she have any reliable maps or guides? The soul is a very large continent.

2 comments:

Agatha said...

I feel like my brain is still in some kind of highly plastic state this morning. You've given us lots to think about here, Coyote. What kind of soul map/navigations tools do you think would be helpful to the 5M (and perhaps to the rest of us)? There are always the self-help books: There's the classic, The Road Less Travelled - the basic idea of that one is "life sucks, and once you accept that, you might have a chance of happiness- or not"; then, there's Thomas Moore (former Catholic monk) who does a lot of work on matters of the soul. His latest is called "Dark Nights of the Soul: Navigating through Life's Ordeals" or something like that. He uses the image of Jonah in the belly of a whale as the "unwilling traveller". He is basically saying that life's struggles give us wisdom whether we want them to or not. And then, there's always Danté's Inferno. Or, Washboard Hank.

4th Dwarf said...

Maybe 5M should get her friend Minty to teach her how to knit.