A Life Less Ordinary

by Jinryu

If there’s one prejudice that I have it’s that I tend not to get along with people without baggage of some sort, or people who are so ashamed of their baggage that they try to really move beyond it.

A certain amount of trauma during our lives I think is necessary– otherwise we’re insufferably saintly, or we’re sinfully boring.

Okay, guilty: I might just be saying this because in fact, the angle I come from is one of baggage and shame.  And it’s not that this is a big deal in itself– but I’d like to think that if anything can be scavenged from years off the beaten path set out for me, it’s that I can hold a bit of a conversation or do a number of odd things that might be points of connection with other people.

There was an idea I was discussing in great detail with StrangerInBlack a long time ago, the idea of going around the course.  You start at A, you get to B, and so forth, but the track is sorta circular at times in that Z might actually be at A.  For example, someone might grow up liking to eat a certain kind of food, but having never tried anything else, tries everything from B to Z and then returns, finally, to discover that A really is the best thing.

And then there are the sorts of people who start at A but decide that A is all they need, because it’s comfort, because it’s already there and why would we need anything more?

“Baggage,” in the sense of all those dramatic episodes of our youths (or perhaps even our present lives), is a lot like that.  It has to do with all that stuff you didn’t ask for that happened along as you actually tried to get from A to Z.

It’s all relative though– because if you carry the baggage from A to Z and never really figure out some way to either accept it, get rid of it, or — basically, do something productive with it– then it kills you, a little bit every day.

I suppose it’s kinda safe to do the same old same old thing, because then you don’t run into as many possible dissapointments… but who knows.

I’ve sorta figured out an element to my life that makes things easier… the idea of faith.  It’s not necessarily in God, it’s just something I use as a word that’s equivalent to “belief that it’ll work out somehow, most likely.”

I mean when you really look at it, what are the odds of things working out for you?  Through everything that you do, you only increase your odds of a happy ending– but nothing is guaranteed.  Even the goals we pursue aren’t always exactly what we want, it’s more like we decide what we want and then the act of pursuing those goals distracts us from the real existential crisis that we’d have if we were truly idle without something to occupy our senses with.

What else do we have, though, really, except to give it a shot?  I know if I stay at A, I’ll be at A and that’ll be it.  If I go for B, C, … Z, things will happen along the way but though I get more experience, is any of it really, really making me ‘better’ in whatever way I wish to measure myself, or is it all just distraction?

That’s why I say it’s sort of like faith.  Because resonably, that’s all there is to it: a choice, without reason at all.

Back to the business of baggage.  Or if you don’t like that word, lets call it experience.  It has to do with running the course and being successful in some ways, but it also has a lot to do with living a real life by the reminders of our mortality– it means you got hurt, doing this or that.  And you went forward, in spite of being hurt. 

I guess I just don’t get along with people who lack this because people who live perfect lives make me feel like damaged goods– I feel smaller compared to people who are “better than me” and that’s the truth.  I am jealous of their perfect lives and they anger me because, as much as I can preach about the journey being more important than the destination, if you gave me a wish, like some sort of return to ignorance, or some sort of chance to just make ‘everything right,’ would I really refuse it?  What idiot would?

And so the people who have those lives without problems, they annoy me because to me, they’re not real, they’re dreamy in that way that I like to dream.

I’m exaggerating.  This only happens in degrees mind you– nobody in reality lives the perfect life.

But it is why I mention that I don’t like people who are ashamed of their baggage to the point where they won’t tell you about it.

Of course trust has a lot to do with it– and in that sense, I’m a pretty trusting guy.  I’ll tell people any story about just about any point in my life so as long as you ask the right question– I’ve come to terms with who I am.

The people who annoy me are the ones who don’t want to cause trouble, who don’t want to stand out, who want to keep their secrets– because they’re not sharing anything.  On one hand it might be with noble intentions, on the other hand, the outcome is a relationship about as deep as that with a perfect person– insufferable, because nothing is apparently wrong that you could ever connect with.

I suppose I’m getting a bit bored in general because people are just so reluctant to just talk sometimes, about things other than the mudanities.  And I suppose it is also true that I have to ‘earn’ good conversations out of people– but it’s not all one sided.  People I think are more and more untrusting…

and I don’t mean untrusting as in lending people large sums of money or the keys to your car.

I just mean, stories.  About yourself.  That’s all free, isn’t it?

And on another note, what’s wrong with gossip?

And let me make a point: there’s a difference between gossip and two-facing or backstabbing.

When I say gossip, I just mean talking about someone when they’re not in the room.  I’ll tell you right now– I gossip all the time.  I talk about everyone I know to everyone else I know.  I don’t do it because I want to insult people or because I want to make myself bigger– I do it because the experiences I have people are experiences– and those experiences are what I use to connect to other people.  Most people who talk to me often enough know the names of my other friends without even having met, because I link stories and specifically add names so that their stories can be built upon each time we discuss things.

I take people at face value, and if I have issues with you, you’ll hear them from my face the same way you’ll hear it behind your back.  I’m holding you responsible for your sins and your virtues.  Spread the word!

But so many people nowadays want all this cloak and dagger bullshit.

Well, I guess I can understand some of why this happens– there are people who will use any story you tell them to undermine you.  But this is usually because of the two-facing I was talking about– these are the people who are pretending to be your friend who get you to talk either intentionally or uninentionally and then use your stories against you in only the hurtful ways.

But you know, even that– I guess it depends on how well you’ve come to terms with your baggage….

I won’t say that I’m completely liberal about everything about me, but, like I said, if the question is asked right then I won’t withhold it.   And I assume that it’s probably going to work it’s way down the grapevine– but if it’s true, then what’s to be afraid of?

To summarize—

for those of you who aren’t sharing your stories, then I hope we’re working towards that level of trust.

for those of you who are talking about me behind my back, go ahead: see if I care, as long as you’re saying it as it is.

for those of you who don’t like me talking about you behind your back, that’s your problem, not mine: just do what you think is right and that’s all there is to it, isn’t there?  I do, you know, compliment and speak highly about some people behind their backs, perhaps more than I would to their faces in fact.  I’m not making power plays and I don’t involve myself in the lives of enemies because I don’t really have any– so any ‘dirty laundry’ that falls upon me, I don’t discuss it because I want to undermine anyone, I discuss it because it’s an interesting subject.  And I’m not saying that in that I’m using you for entertainment– because I wonder how that kind of situation would work better.


The biographies of all the most famous people exist for this reason– because they shed light on characters beyond their public images.

We can love a persona, but to truly connect with a human there needs to be that backstory.  Okay, don’t tell me all of it– but realize that if you ever get tired of holding up the veils perhaps that’s when you can start really connecting with people because finally they’ll be judging you for who you really are and not just who you want people to think you are.

While too much optimism and rainbows and sunshine and kumbaya is sickening, the best stories are usually quite simple about the little problems in life that people got through.  They build character.  As bad as those things are, they led you to becoming who you are now– and is that really, really so bad?

Maybe that’s what I can’t deal with, it’s when people aren’t can’t accept who they are.

(And maybe I’m projecting)

(link from Zanshin, http://boltcity.com/copper/copper_037_observer.htm)