hell is still other people
You know how sometimes life feels unwieldy & “obese” because other people exist? Nyuck, Nyuck.
Maybe I’m getting old, but this way that others have of deciding things about “you” or deciding what you meant and then hugging those hurts to their chest like a favored stuffed animal is turning me into an even deeper misanthrope than Sartre was said to be. But then, who said that? Did they just surmise it to be true? Writing down his observations of the human condition and philosophizing them didn’t necessarily make him a hater.
We all have our stories—and so what? The trouble comes when you don’t run the story by the people you’ve made up those narratives about, you believe they’re true, and then life becomes toilsome for the protagonist in your invented fiction. This bulls@#t creates a lot of gratuitous drama.
I’m of Italian descent; drama is my middle name. I love opera and plays, emotions and songs, poetry and art, and stories. But I don’t like unnecessary childish drama unless someone is an actual child/teenager. They get to have that; they’re children.
I’m not immune from the story-making machine. I recently put together pieces concerning a curmudgeonly and not very technologically interactive friend. I spent three weeks revising it, yet wondered if my inner tale had any actuality. So I sent him an email elucidating the specifics of my story using muscular verbs and shiny details. To my relief, it wasn’t true, and I quote, “Well, aren’t we a bit sensitive.”
Key difference here? I ran it by him before it imprinted itself to my skull as TRUTH. And—because I’m not attached to my story merely because I created it—I let it go. Maybe it’s easier for me to release it because of all the practice I get being a writer, I don’t know. I tell my students (Hello y’all!) to let their writing flow through them to the page, but be ready to cut, slash and kill “their babies” since they should be in service to their work, not applaud themselves as “writer.”
Whatever you invent, you’re responsible for the larger veracity, how it fits into the whole community not only your brain. Just because you think donuts are food doesn’t mean I do; both are “true.” Obama is not a socialist or secret Muslim no matter how many times a tea-partier says it. The conclusions you manufacture about my intentions doesn’t make them accurate in real life. It does mean there’s a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up but that won’t happen in the solitary vacuum of your head.
Stop being afraid of external conflict and say what you think, ask clarifying questions. That’s the respectful, adult thing to do. The only realm where differences will be figured out is in the open air giving both individuals a chance to discuss it and find a whole, round, full “truth” that works for more than just one.