I remember I was 21, when I had an awakening. I was watching Northern Exposure on TV and was really enjoying the show. I loved that show in big ways, now, mostly because of what I learned about myself.
I was almost done with an episode one night, and I realized I had a smile on my face. (Little back story, I am an introvert and don’t show much emotional affect on my face, so this stood out to me.) That made me examine my whole state of being, and I realized I was high. I wasn’t on drugs, I was on the wafting clouds of utopian fantasies. I realized the creators of the show had tapped into my personal understanding of a utopian society… Then I realized, they had just used it against me.
Three of the aspects that I like about myself (and are very socially retarded) are my honesty, my starting place with others, and my acceptance of weirdness. (I have a tendency to speak to others how I speak to myself, and will share any information about myself. I am just as likely to bring up masturbation as I am the weather. Wait… I don’t mean I just randomly start conversations about masturbation, like one might with the weather. But, I will possibly answer a question in a humorous way with a joke about masturbation. I’m not explaining this well at all… Try this…let’s say there is a taboo subject that is just barely eluded to in a conversation…like masturbation. Well, to me, barely eluded to equals, this is firmly placed on the table for discussion. At which time I realize two things: myself and the person who said it, were the only ones who even got the slight reference, and I realized the first thing by the faces of the rest of the group when they heard my follow-up comment.) My utopian society is filled with citizens as honest and open as I am, and have the starting place that all people want to be good and do good, and they may do some weird stuff in the pursuit of it.
The people of Cecily, Alaska, were pretty much those things. I loved it. They even showed how when you are someone with those traits, criticism is not threatening. If Maggie criticizes Joel about some action he took, it’s because she has his best interest at heart and is honest with him about her opinion that; his actions were flawed in some way, and it will eventually cause harm in some manner. So, if Joel then reacts with some negative emotion and attacks her for her criticism, they both know deep down that that is his issue and not hers. Which means; she is not offended by his attack and he is now to go inward and find the issue that caused his emotional response and correct it…then apologize to Maggie for his emotional outburst. So healthy…so unrealistic.
Those are the traits our relationships with others should be based in, but sadly that is not possible in this world. But, it absolutely can be what our internal dialogue is based in.
For clarity, I am saying these three traits are:
- Be 100% honest.
- The foundation for that honesty is the desire for long-term happiness.
- Everyone is weird, so your weirdness is normal.
My internal dialogue, as a result is direct, brutally honest, and usually wrapped in some weird humor. I love it, it is very efficient…and entertaining occasionally. Although, even for myself it can sometimes be a splash of cold water… it just happens that splash is one my favorite things.
Put that into motion where, I do unto to others as I do unto myself: I just come off as harsh and unloving.
“It’s 2AM. Instead of you engaging in the ancient Japanese weight gaining techniques of the mystical art of Sumo, by eating great quantities of food then sleeping. How about you just go back to bed and we can avoid the delusion you have, that the only calories that exist are the ones others know you ingested. It would really help our relationship and our conversations in general.”
But, when I say such a thing to myself, “Ouch, damn…that was a good one.”
A food addicted obese girlfriend… not exactly the same reaction. Even though she intellectually understood that I wasn’t trying to truly hurt her, I was just trying to get her to see the truth of her behaviors. She was too deep in her own delusion for the truth of my intentions to be understood. She just felt the jab, but didn’t see purpose behind it.
Back to Northern Exposure… I am sitting there examining my own smile and I realized, the creators of the show are attempting to brainwash me. They created a utopian society where those three traits that I cherish are a norm. Which made me eventually come to believe that the creators of the show embodied those traits, and they were revealing uncomfortable universal truths about human nature. Which they mostly did for the first season, and because of that, I had my mental guard down during the second season. Which is where I was while smiling.
“If I am to truly be happy about the situation my face is smiling about, I would have to believe X” I thought to myself. “The formula for the show was: X = true. Then (Y + Z)X = Smile on face. But, I do not believe X = true but, X = zero. So, (Y + Z)X = No Smile on face, because it was based in an untruth.” …As the smile faded from my face.
I learned the creators of the show are just creators of a TV show, and are hugely flawed like all humans.
I learned to never let my guard down.
I learned a place like that can only exist under one condition.
I learned if the creators of a TV show are really good at what they do, I can still enjoy the show even if I don’t buy into their worldview.
I especially learned that if someone taps into my personal utopian beliefs a cognitive bias is created and I can be influenced to believe false data. “This can never happen.” So, a new amazingly important defense system was created that day.
And, I will forever have a little crush on Janine Turner.
Embrace the three traits… if nothing else, understand everyone is weird and that makes it extremely weird to judge people for their weirdness, you weirdo!
P.S. At 47, I’ve now gotten slightly better at not doing unto others as I do unto myself. Except during compliments. A brutally honest compliment designed for long-term happiness in others, told with a little humor, can be an amazing thing…give it try.