It’s begun to dawn on me
Just how focused a microcosm
exists insides our heads: boundaries
drawn tight across our reactions,
our experiences, our instanteneities.
I’ve somehow never realized
that when we take a walk in another’s shoes
we’re taking a jog in our own, forcefully
shoved into a foreign situation,
taking with us our values, perspectives, assumptions.
One has to assume plenty, in imagining another person:
there’d be no use without constraints.
So we center our self,
hallucinate the new situation,
hallucinate the nudges in personality and traits
that we know from the person we’re imagining.
We spend some time crafting that hallucination,
and then we look around.
We have judgments! We have changes!
We often know what has to be done.
We’ve done a hard search to find
the best action
to be take in this other’s perspective.
Sometimes we know the answer with certainty,
Sometimes we do not know.
If we’re the type who is confident
(and if the situation drives confidence)
we can deliver advice with gusto.
If we’re the type who lets others learn by themselves
or if the situation is unclear
we may probe what they feel more,
try instead to understand what they think the answer is:
change the purpose of the question.
If we’re confident in our delivery, though,
how right is our answer?
There are so many moving parts in hallucinations,
so many uncertain variables in modeling.
Did we construe the situation correctly?
Do we see the world as the other does?
Were our nudges to our self-model enough?
Do we share the same abilities, same values?
How much computational power did we pour in,
how much did we stretch our reliance on our own memories,
do we have a solution that fits their shoes and not ours?
The Deliver’s Responsibility.
The advice-giver has a responsibility
to be truthful, kind, or in between.
To be true to themselves and what they believe,
or to say what aligns with the values of the other.
While the deliver’s message derives from their
capacity, desire, and time for imagination,
the deliver’s tone will be specific to their disposition,
and care in crafting their message to ensure
the best response.
(Of course, “best response” could mean anything.
What will most please the listener?
What will most clearly state the right answer?
What will convince the listener to listen?)
But let us turn to the listener
Patiently awaiting judgment.
They’ve asked this person to imagine,
(or received a hallucination unsolicited)
and now they can choose to listen.
If it’s an idiot shouting some answers,
one should quite obviously ignore them.
But how does one find the idiots?
When does one know when advice is wrong,
Either wrong for oneself, or wrong for everyone?
We could put the weight of our judgments on the delivers,
waste no time on the thoughts of certain people.
We could say: ignore the hypocrites,
but that’d be wasteful,
because many can observe
what they don’t practice.
We could say: absorb from the most successful,
but if we’re not giants ourselves
there’s usually much
standing between us and them
We could say: learn from peers just above
and that seems safe
though progress slows to incremental
And we could say: this doesn’t work, we have to learn from everyone
because you just might be wrong,
you just might be the kind of wrong that’s a general wrong and not just wrong for you,
and you just don’t know,
that deliver and their message could come from anywhere,
they could be saying true things even if they’re mostly wrong
and you just don’t know
If you’re so unsure, then you’d better listen extra closely
to every single person
to get a clue to what might be:
you’d better evaluate every argument,
default on every argument, really,
because there’s not enough time to process every argument online,
not with this much uncertainty, when so little is understood…
…Emotions, maelstroms of emotions every time,
Instantaneous and arduous to change.
I don’t like it, I don’t like that the justification in my mind is always
“What’d I do wrong,” not
“Just a difference in perspectives.”
I’m prone to overthinking; everyone says so.
I’m not often charged with overfeeling.
It feels like cause and effect to me sometimes,
and sometimes it doesn’t—
too many contradictions to make generalizations.
(I adjust well to feedback. I’m very defensive in taking feedback.
I’m overly sensitive to feedback. I can be stubborn to an extreme.)
I react across a multidimensional space of examples:
varying along delivery, strength of insecurity, how much I care, who delivers, the network of connected thoughts, how much I’ve tried, how well I feel I’ve been modeled, how strong the other feels, how hard I’m fighting to manage myself and to be fair.
Whether the argument makes sense or not
is in that space, too.
It should be most important, but it’s often drowned
in the feelings that need to be sorted through,
the disruption in all higher functioning
that takes place due to the need to organize all the unsorted mail
that is delivered from everyone who cares to deliver
Others have given me solutions. They say:
– Just listen. (It’s hard to listen when I feel my perspective isn’t heard.)
– Ignore it. (I want to try it. I feel like I want more balance.)
– Say what people want to hear. (I suspect I’d be bad at this if I tried, and I do not want to try.)
– Be yourself. (This is the balance, because I don’t think of myself as static. There is always room to grow.)
When I step back, it’s funny. It’s funny
because for any conclusion I make,
I’ve already heard that solution in other people’s words.
They’ve already told me, I’ve received all the information.
If I’d listened well enough I’d have heard them,
but instead I only listen
when I’ve come to the conclusion on my own.
(It makes me wonder how I’d begin to influence people
if I were to try that, someday).
When I step back, all the internal drama is funny
because people are people
and have been people for millennia
doing this same dance over and over again
same rough personalities, same exercises.
Rediscovering it every time.
When I step back, it’s such a small thing,
the tiny responses to individuals teaching and learning.
It’s such a common struggle, with the same responses,
common biases beaten into us by the tides of evolution.
Emotional responses worth struggling against
to better achieve the goals we’ve had the luxury to set for ourselves.
Responses that I can watch every day in others.
We are all these tiny microcosms
Living life from our own perspectives.
Trying to simulate each others’ complexities
When we can’t understand our own.
(And when I step back to where I want to be,
I look up at the stars and smile,
because this can be a beauty like countless others.
The axioms of human interaction and gravity,
The joy of observing intricacies and discovery.
What is the foil for all the tiny difficulties?
My favorite part of being human: a capacity for awe.)