To Wake Up

Waking up, in many ways, is one of the hardest things in the world to accomplish. At least for me. It is comfortable to remain indifferent, apathetic even, to the world around me, and to other people. Indifference, as uncomfortable a truth as it may be to say so, is comfortable. Reaching out requires escaping our comfort zone more often than not. Reaching out, means risk. It is something that feels dark and dangerous to us, because it lies outside of our control perhaps, or just because we are unfamiliar with it. But to remain is to be in the shadows, when we were born to live in the light. Remaining in our shadows, in many ways is like living in a dream world, a world of our own creation, but it is not real. It is a world that needs to be woken up from, it does not do to continue in the realm of dreams, when there is life to be lived. Apathy, though seeming safe, is a bitter evil, perhaps one of the most evil things a man can be is to be indifferent, to not care. To be absorbed into our own little worlds. Something I regret to say is growing increasingly stronger rather than diminishing. Now, for myself, I am a bit reserved, slow to talk to even my friends and family, and why I speak of talking, yes, that’s small talk, not deeper things. It isn’t my natural disposition to intrude as it is, but sometimes, I wonder whether it would be better, not only for society as a whole, but for myself as well to strike up conversations with random people, for instance in restaurants and such. I feel at times like life in my country, America is, and is becoming a world where everyone is just living their own separate lives. Even among family members, this is true, I have my own life, the rest of the family has their own thing, a majority of each other’s world is partitioned either in whole or in part from those of the rest of the household, or the subjects are simply taboo, things we don’t talk about, even if we know every detail, it may not be mentioned, for example. Secrets are awfully hard to keep, and from an observant eye, more difficult still. And while quite familiar with the goings on at my own household, I still probably have a greater awareness of the lives of online folks. Even at the moment, I’m busy typing away on my laptop, my mom is seated across the table, reading a book. We’re saying very little to each other, but are quite occupied in our own things. So things tend to be, and trust and distrust plays a good part of it. Not only of each other, but the insane fear of being overheard by other people in the vicinity. Conversations tend to go something like this: ‘Anything to talk about?’ ‘No.’ or complete silence. This isn’t just occasional, but how interactions regularly go. I lie when I say I have nothing to say. I have a great deal to say. Whether we speak of good things or bad things, there is lots of things that could be said, but never are. Same is true for others in my household, not to mention the rest of the world.

In many ways it comes down to trust I suppose. Trust issues, I’ve always had trust issues, I know that. I blame no one, nor do I accept it as something I have to be bound by, I do not have to be a slave to the things I was born with in most cases. I am not a servant of my genes, and refuse to be governed by genetics as much as I can help it. (Nevertheless, I cannot ever be French, no matter how badly I would wish to be. I’m forever a German man, whether I wish to be or not. I am quite proud of my German heritage, so I’m not upset about it, just trying to make a point. I can’t be French if I’m not born French.) Still, I believe in the dominion of choice and my will, and do not give my heritage the right to manipulate my future insofar as it lies within my power. Trust issues, however is something I’ve had as long as I remember. My question for myself is this: Did I develop this, or was I born this way? I believe I developed it. I remember, as a small child, making the choice to be shy, and it was that choice, a rather foolish one, I might ad, that has mostly brought about the shyness I carry with me to this day. It is a decision I made, for myself, and sometimes little decisions as they grow, become great problems. The price paid for successfully making myself a shy person was the development of a lack of trust. A terrible price, indeed. Now, I feel like even if I want to, I cannot reach out towards others, I cannot a person that talks to people. I know, it’s not true that I cannot be these things. It’s not an impossible change, it is something that must be confronted, true, and I am better than I was ten years ago, but still there are so many people I don’t speak to, don’t interact with, all because I hold back and don’t speak up.

Sometimes, I think the closer I am to someone, the less I’m inclined to be trusting, and open with them. It is a vicious sort of tendency that pushes people away. The closer I get to them, the more I shut down, become quiet, withdrawn, and reveal nothing.

Now, granted there have been times when trust has been broken, and it takes everything in me to not dislike the person, or be indifferent. At best I can tolerate, usually, but neither like nor dislike them. It is something I continually ask myself, whether it’s okay to feel neither like nor dislike, or if indifference is the greatest crime against another that can be committed. It’s hard to know at times. I suppose there is  a difference between like, dislike, not feeling either, and indifference. Indifference is not caring at all. Not liking or disliking, often just means that you have no matter of opinion one way or another concerning them, either because you don’t know anything about them, or they just are not someone you connect with.

So, my question is, how do I break the self-imposed barrier and refuse to lend credence to my ‘shyness’ something which I do not believe I have to be defined by, nor wish to be.

And I don’t have to be, and I do think it is time for me to wake up, to live, and to be.

Learning.

First, I know it’s been a month. My only excuse is that I’ve been aggressively attacking my French studies after neglecting them for six months in favor of Chinese. I already miss the Chinese studies, but there are still only twenty-four hours in a given day. Yet, I still am not doing the one thing that would really help me to learn French quicker, better, and much more ready to communicate with actual people. I sometimes ask myself, why do I want to learn French. I’ve yet to hear anyone speak it, out and about and such. Most of the French I encounter is in written form, that’s everywhere. Grocery stores, books, even in the restroom at some places (on the towel dispenser.) But I’ve yet to hear someone speak it. I hear someone speaking Mandarin Chinese every once in awhile, sometimes as often as once a week or two, and I do not get out of the house much. A lot of Spanish, but I’ve not studied Spanish all that much, well at all actually. Still, despite that, I am glad to be studying them. It is worth the effort, and I was quite excited to be able to make sense of twenty minutes of French while watching a movie, with relative ease. That’s not the point however.

I’ve discovered something in all this, something I should have suspected, I have a passion for languages. I should have suspected it, because I believed myself to hold a passion for words, but for my part I thought my passion was about the arranging of words into something I deemed to be beautiful, and I suppose to an extent that is true. But, when I started to learn languages, I began to realize, it’s not so much the words, it’s the ideas.

I still delight in words, and while I don’t believe English to be a particularly fair language in and of itself, though that may simply be the result of a lifetime of hearing it used for complaints, and so forth. Which is true of most languages. When I watched a Shakespeare drama, I was enraptured by the words he had chosen. They were English words, but it was beautiful. Another example, was reading Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, which, as fine as The Lord of the Rings is, exceeds that one in its heights of linguistic beauty. Every once in awhile I still find something in the English art’s that is beautiful, it becomes hard at times to believe that a language capable of such beauty and wonder, is also the same language used by a vulgar tongue that speaks the language to curse, and those who use it for propaganda, to manipulate, or to abuse. It is the same language as the words that delight.

English is still my primary language, and I enjoy speaking it. True, but it is amazing how much more I am learning, I’m not just learning thousands of new words, and dozens of new grammatical rules, and so forth, though that is part of it, to be sure, I’m learning about cultures, and people, and what it is to be a human on this planet Earth. I am learning a great deal about myself. In many ways it is like discovering a whole new way to be human, but at the same time, there are aspects of it that are familiar to you.

As I seek to write my own stories, I hope that I write something that is beautiful, it is one of my primary reasons for writing after all, to find something beautiful. I cannot deny however, that I feel I lack an understanding of the English language to tell it as it ought to be told. I feel most often, I cannot do it justice. In many ways, for me, writing is more about exploring the world inside my head. I’m not telling a story, I’m discovering it.

It is something I find I enjoy.

Even though I haven’t posted in awhile, I’m going to keep this short, I have to leave the coffee shop I’m writing this up in now, after all.

-Shane