February 25, 2015

Day 505 – People

People – we live in a society full of people from different cultures, believing in different values, practising a different religion and speaking different languages.  We are all essentially social beings, we need people, introvert or not, there is no denying the importance of people in our lives. I for one have repeatedly acknowledged and told people how grateful I am for their presence in my life for I know I would be lost without them. I know we cross paths with people for a reason, it happens at a certain point in our lives and we are either supposed to change their life or they will change ours in some way. I have been fortunate enough to meet many a wonderful people along my travels, so I left with great memories and good friends. I have also however come to realise their is a dark side, whilst I believe in silver linings, the good, truth is there isn’t always one. There is a flip side to us all, it just takes some time before these true colours are seen. This made me think long and hard about what I value in a person, in friend or flatmate.

Open mindedness – This for me is key, we live in a society forever evolving and growing and with so many things happening it is easy for some to fixate on one idea or belief. It is easier to follow the mainstream opinion or to believe something blindly but to actually stop and question the information or to challenge, that takes time and guts. To be open to new ideas or to analyse sources and to seek the purpose of them is the point. We are continuously fed information and images through the media, politicians, academic institutions, communities and family but how many encourage us to raise questions or to open our minds? Very few because some fear open mindedness will see the end of traditions or challenge customs unnecessarily. Just because something is new or different, our automatic reaction is to be fearful rather than to embrace it or celebrate it.

To be open minded very much depends on the individual. Of course there are many influences but for me, it comes down to the individual.  It is linked to how we think, do you try and put people in boxes or give them labels?  Or is it possible to just accept the person in their entirety for who they are and where they are in life? I am pretty open minded, open to interacting with different kinds of people and understanding new ideas. I believe tradition and culture is important but despise how it makes certain people so narrow minded.  Exposure to opportunities certainly broadens the mind and I am aware that those who perhaps have never travelled or had the same opportunities can not fully appreciate this, how could they? They don’t know anything different however just because you are not surrounded by such opportunities does not mean they do not exist or that you can not be part of them.  We have the chose whether we take in everything life has to offer or to shut out ideas because they do not sit comfortably with our culture or lifestyle.

Non-judgemental – Linked to open mindedness is being non-judgemental, the two for me go hand in hand. How is it we know and love someone but judge them because of their religious belief or their sexuality? How and why is this is an issue? We live in a society where we strip off everything a person is and has to offer until we are down, at the core, where lies the one thing that makes them different and then we turn it against them and justify judging them. Is it not sad but true that some people in society can not see or accept the wonderful person as they are? Such prejudices are justified in numerous ways; religion tells us, culture prohibits it, god denies it and it goes against our customs. Truthfully, their is no justification, their is no base to discriminate anyone because they are different.

We as people are blinded and made to think this is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ and again it is down to us individuals to decide what we believe. It is easy to be a sheep, to follow in the footsteps of the masses but to take a stand and to fight such prejudice, it takes guts.  Here in Paraguay for example, gays and lesbians are not openly accepted or understood. Arguably, Paraguay is a small, third world, developing country where abortions are still illegal.  Yet, Paraguay borders Brazil, where gays, lesbians and transsexual people are openly accepted.  For me, I simply do not understand, perhaps prejudices or judgemental behaviour is accepted in small, rural towns of Paraguay but amongst, young, educated people? I have never held such prejudices and you are no more of a person for being straight. You are however, less of a person, in my eyes if you judge, discriminate or humiliate a person based on their sexuality.  I can happily say that all my friends back home and most of those I met on my travels would have no such desire to judge anyone.

Honesty – We as people are complicated, confused, crazy species – I know I am one of them. We have many layers and whilst initially people tell you the truth, once their true colours are exposed, you learn that actually we are all the same because we all lie. I value honesty greatly, perhaps too much but at the same time I lie. I say white lies or other lies to people, not all the time but at times when I know the truth will do them no go. The truth is important but there is a time and a place for honesty because not everyone is able or ready to handle the truth. So there are exceptions, I understand that someone may lie to me for this very reason. But what gets me is when someone lies to my face and then goes and says or does something else behind my back, that I don’t like, no one does.

Perhaps the most ironic things is, I myself am never one hundred per cent honest. Sure I share what I think or what I feel but never completely to anyone. I don’t have any one person who knows exactly what I want, what I think or how I feel because I don’t share it. I chose not to and I am aware that I should be more honest and open about how I feel or what I am thinking. But my issue is, there is a time and place for honesty.  Also, it is not what you say but how you say it. I try not to say anything to someone that I do not wish to hear myself. I am so busy being empathetic and worrying about how my words will make the other person feel that I am simply not able to openly say how I feel. Now, I know my feelings matter and so I shouldn’t hold back but I do. Because in my mind it is no big deal and if on the rare occasion I do manage to find my tongue and I string a sentence together, I am left feeling guilty or bad about what I said after. Being is honest is no easy business and words sting, once said they can not be taken back.

So yes I lie like everyone but like some people, I say white lies and appreciate that sometimes honesty is not always the best policy. I value honesty but I’m not always honest and do not always share how I feel. This is something I am working on, I appreciate people who can say exactly how they feel or what they think with no problem. I admire their courage and ability but at the same time they are not always empathetic or understanding towards others. So which is better? Are you a better or more of a person for always saying the truth? Is honesty the best policy or is it a load of cob-webs?

In the same way that we lie, we bitch, some say women more than men but both do and we rant. A lot if not most of this bitching is behind closed doors or behind the person’s back which makes no sense but we all do it. I am no saint and I do rant, when something happens or I am real wound up by something or when I just don’t understand people, I rant. One thing that still gets me, some of you already know, is jealously. People say having an addiction is bad, committing an crime is unacceptable or fostering deep-seated hostility is not healthy but for me, what I dislike the most in a person is their never ending jealously.  I know people are jealous of me, I have had people tell me and I have heard from others. I know there are things that I have done that others can only dream of. I realise and am grateful to have achieved all the things I have and none of it was easy.  Some say jealous is a ‘normal’ feeling, others say they have a ‘healthy’ jealously but the way I see it, any kind of jealously is jealously. For me, if there is something you don’t like in your life or want in your life then go for it, go make it happen. But sitting and sharing thoughts of bitterness, resentment and feeling jealous will achieve nothing.

I can honestly say I have never jealous of someone, I felt happy for them, I have thought – who, oh my god, how amazing, I wonder if I could achieve the same. Someone’s journey has inspired me, their story has motivated me or moved in such a way that I want more from life. I don’t wish to be them rather I strive to grow and be more. But I know some people want to be me and for me that’s not good because we all great in our own ways, in our own right but people just don’t see it. We as people fixate on this idea of perfect or this one way and we do everything in our power to achieve it. The more impossible it seems, the more determined we become to the point where the journey is no longer deemed important but simply the end goal. We are made to get so lost in this rat race that we leave behind everything else we believe in.  So not only is jealous not good but is it unhealthy and you gain nothing. Perhaps, if this jealously fuels some motivation, it is good. The people that I know, who are jealous, have no such aim of changing or achieving more. Rather, they simply hope for that person’s downfall and are negative most of the time. Understandably, these are not the people for me.

My anti-jealous feeling also stems from patience – I’m patient with my life.  Good things happen to all those who wait or at least they say. I’m in no real hurry to get anyway, we spend our whole life trying to achieve one mile stone after the next and I wonder if we even have the time to fully celebrate, acknowledge or appreciate what we have gained. We live in a society whereby we are forever moving, on a conveyor-belt, most of us aiming to more forward and petrified to stand still. We forever want more; more money, more time, more clothes, more trips to the beach, more nights out and the list is ever growing.  We never have enough and some of us are never content, how often do you say or hear someone say, that’s plenty, that’s more than enough, thanks? Me? Well I am surrounded by friends who are content with what they have in life and they make the most of it. We all have dreams and we aspire to great things but I know what I have is more than enough.

Perhaps this is why I am not competitive.  I have never been the competitive kind, for me it’s all about taking part and having fun. But of course we live in a society where we are programmed, trained to be competitive and there is glory in winning and nothing but shame in losing.  Why is losing perceived so negatively? Why is not possible to understand that we win in other ways during a competition or tournament and this is not always defined by some trophy or prize.  I have no desire to win or trample over my opponent, I would much rather help them up and let them win.  I would feel much better about myself and okay so I didn’t have the glorified applause or recognition but I would feel good on the inside and that is more than enough for me.  I have no urge to be first or the best. I am good, maybe more than enough and I know that and those of whom that know me would agree and that for me is enough, I have no need to prove this or to compete for some external award or recognition.

Listen – In the same way we are taught to be competitive, we are constantly talking and only some people shut up and listen, I mean really listen to others. To hear what is going on is one thing but to actually focus and listen to what is being shared or discussed is something else.  It’s like we are programmed to talk and to prove that we know more, understand more and thus it is not important to listen. It is not necessary to take a moment to give someone else a chance. Listening is always about giving your time and yourself to a conversation and you may well get nothing from it but the person you listen to will gain a great deal. Sometimes all we want to do is off-load after a long or stressful or happy day. Sometimes all we want to do is share the moment and wouldn’t it be amazing if you have someone, that one person who actually gives a shit and listens?

I’m blessed, I can message or call a friend and they are all ears, of course they have their own life too but they make time to listen because they care. Those of us that have friends and family who care should listen to us but they don’t, not always.  We all have friends who love to talk, talk and talk and talk and it is hard to get a word in edge ways. I’ve listened to such people, I have friends just like this and for the most part it is okay but on a day I need to talk it’s difficult. Words are powerful, but listening is just as powerful but it means stopping and investing ourselves. I am a good listener, perhaps even a great listener due to both my personal and professional life. I have spent endless amounts of time listening to people off load their stories, their problems, their worries, on to me. For the most part I am a sound board, I don’t absorb stories, no matter how overwhelming they maybe but I am only human. So, whilst working with women affected by domestic violence there were days when I did take a story home, a problem home and I needed to share it with someone. It is not easy to listen to such stories, but just imagine people have difficulty listening to them so how must it be for the women who experience the abuse?

I have had many people open up and share parts of themselves whilst I have been travelling. There is an unspoken but recognisable trust between travellers, between two people and this is more than enough for someone to share their deep seated anxieties or dreams. It never seizes to amaze me how much someone is willing to share with me. I value each and every story that has been shared, that I have been fortunate enough to be part of and sometimes wonder what happened next. Did they manage to accomplish what they wanted? Were they able to change and grow into the person they wanted to be?

Respect – I may enjoy listening but I too have things to say, to share and so also want to be heard. I don’t open up to anyone, I don’t share my thoughts with everyone I meet, no I am a little reserved because not everyone understands and more importantly not everyone is respectful.  When I listen to someone’s fears or views, I’m non-judgemental, I’m patient and respectful. Thus, I expect the same but of course people are not the same, we are all different and just because I treat someone with respect doesn’t mean they will respect me.  I am a rambler, I love to talk about things I am passionate about, that infuriate me, that move me and I enjoy being able to share these ideas with other travellers and amongst other friends. And sometimes, I have days, when I just want to talk about something random, something that may not actually make sense to the average person but something that my friend and I understand. I crave those conversations, those moments where only you and your friend understand the joke and you share a unexplained smile or laugh whilst surrounded by others.

Respect, it isn’t too much to ask for? I mean generally for people to be respectable to each other, to respect each others property and space and thoughts.  But we live in an society where some people have little respect or understanding for others. They quite simply don’t care and some how manage to justify their behaviour, their lack of respect. And the worst part is, we as people, accept this, we accept this behaviour and normalise it because some of us have such low self-respect. We don’t love ourselves enough or realise that we deserve more, that we deserve better. So, the cycle continues until one day we see that we deserve a lot more and at the very least our friends or family should respect us.

Reliable – It’s important to keep your word, you say you going to do something, then do it, follow it through, don’t make false promises or give false hope. I know I have done this, I have unintentionally hurt someone by giving them false hope and I hate myself for having done this. For me, if it was possible to be more open, more honest with certain people then it would help. I would be able to share my thoughts freely and I wouldn’t need to worry but at the moment this is not possible. Thus, whilst this is something I value, I appreciate that people make false promises. I can understand this in some circumstances but in others no.  I would rather someone not say something, not agree to meet me or help me then say it and not do it. I generally have a low expectation but wouldn’t it just be great if people were just honest?

Love and peace – My last and perhaps my key value in an person is do they spread love, do they give love, do they have this energy which is warm and positive?  This energy is what draws me into or out of a relationship or a conversation.  It is what essentially determines whether or not any of the above will happen.  It’s something that does not have to be said or shown, it is simply a feeling that I get when I meet someone or am with someone.  It’s this sense I get and I know, no matter what it being said, I know what is really being said even without understanding the words sometimes.  So far, I have been right about this sense I get from people but some people also need time to come out of their shell.

Some people don’t illuminate this energy or it’s hidden so it’s hard to get such a feeling.  You can be kind, I’ve learnt but still be cold because your heart is not in it. I had trouble understanding this but I have met people and realised that whilst they mean well, do good, their energy says otherwise. This is where it is a little confusing because if you don’t take the time to get know these people then there actions are never fully understood. Because, of course, it is possible for someone to be kind and caring but not be able to spread warmth or have a positive energy.  So being cold essentially means there is some love but because it is not on the surface it is hard to sense it. These people also mean well so yes whilst I am not initially drawn to them there is something intriguing about them.

So, I appreciate the pink, positive, warm, fluffy side but am aware of the dark, judgemental, narrow minded, jealous, resentful side. We all have a say in who we let in, who we share our life with, those little moments with and for the most part I am happy with my decisions. I have no regrets, yes I’m a little crazy, confused and complicated but I’m not the only one. If you can’t accept this about me, well it’s a shame and it’s your loss as much as it is mine. I will never forget how a person made me feel, I will not remember their name but I have the conversation we shared. We sometimes get so caught up in the little things, the minor details, in the hope of creating something perfect that we miss what we have right in front of us. I know what I have and I appreciate all of it and forever will. There is a lot more I wish to do and see but for now it is more than enough, I am more than enough.