Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Looking Both Ways

I haven't been driving into work that much as of late, especially since I am getting Tom Douglas setups on my walk in. However, sometimes it is necessary given the tasks of the day. On those days where I drive and have to pick Darbs up from doggie day care, I end up taking this route that puts me on the freeway for one exit - somehow, this is faster than winding through the post-work traffic downtown. After exiting the freeway, I wind my way through South Lake Union to get the dog.

There is this intersection - of Westlake and some side street, where nearly every day, a car runs the red light just as my light turns green. The first time it happened, the car in front of me was nearly t-boned (that is probably not the correct expression, but whatever). Had I been the first car, I would have been hit hard and been seriously injured. I thought it was a fluke that one time, but it has since happened so many times that it can now be considered routine.

It happened again today and I realized that sometimes you need to be reminded to turn off your auto pilot and really pay attention. I am a very defensive driver and all that, but there is a false sense of security that comes of a society defined by laws and rules. We (or at least I) tend to be lulled into a state of complacency by thinking that everyone is operating under the same set of rules and are abiding by them in the same manner. In reality, while everyone may be bound by the same set of laws (rich white people, your mileage certainly varies), people have wildly different perceptions of how those laws apply to themselves, and these perceptions often fluctuate among different situations.

Since I am all about big picture thinking these days (again, watch this space for personal growth), I immediately recognized the metaphor for non-traffic situations. I have long operated under an assumption that my people - the family I have and the friends I have chosen (rightly or wrongly) as my family - abide by the same set of core beliefs that make me tick.

What a spectacularly stupid assumption (yes, ass and me and all that). Could that *be* any stupider (yes, say that in your best Chandler voice)? Holy shit, I am about ready to publish an epiphany-of-the-day calendar. I think that every heartbreak I have ever had stemmed from the realization (perhaps not at the time, but upon reflection) that someone had played by a very different rulebook different from mine. At the heart of mine is the golden rule of treating people the way you want to be treated, no matter the circumstance. This is especially true if you have hurt, or been hurt by, someone -- if you have fucked up, or you have been fucked over. I don't ask what Jesus would do. I consider what I would want me to do if I were in the other person's shoes.

I have been on auto pilot on a lot of relationships, erroneously assuming that everyone thinks like me and will behave accordingly. I have been t-boned by this stupid assumption because I never bothered to really pay attention and look both ways before crossing the street. It was probably quite arrogant to operate that way, to say nothing of being hazardous to my mental health. Hell, upon thinking about it, nothing is more arrogant and self-destructive than to believe that the people in your life think just like you and will treat you just as you will treat them. I certainly don't profess to know the right way and it is more than likely I don't.

The wild card is trust. When you trust someone - a friend, a lover, a family member - you really get into the stupid assumptions. As past posts have plainly revealed, when I trust someone in my bones, I tend to assume they share my values of confidence. What happens in the relationship stays in the relationship, so to speak. I tend to subscribe to the idea that relationships are governed by an unspoken nondisclosure agreement and have been badly burned by that assumption.

I guess what it is on my mind is how to readjust and realign the thinking. Can you have a real relationship and that all-important and necessary trust with someone without the stupid assumption? Fuck, I have no idea. I tend to not think so, but then how do you avoid the t-boning (heh - boning) if you assumed incorrectly? Maybe heartbreak is just that -- discovering that you (perhaps stupidly, perhaps on good faith) assumed that you had a relationship with someone who didn't actually share your value and respect for that relationship.

It is probably just that simple.

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