Chris and I cooked breakfast for George and Nikki this morning, and then I was supposed to go see Sumana and Leonard but the roads are awful and the buses ridiculous. So I'm on the train back now, listening to a guitarist who... I want, badly, to have an instrument be an extension of my body and my thought that way. I have it with writing sometimes, a little bit. Sometimes.
I called up some of my old posts to read on the ride to NYC, so I'm going through them on the way back to my apartment instead. It is - as it always is when I go back and listen to the person that I was before - good to see what I have learned and how I used to think. I still write for an audience of one: my future self. It's been a wonderful surprise over the years to have others begin to read these too, and comment back, and a lot of wonderful conversations and friendships have begun that way. It's something I never expected. And I don't think it has changed the way I write here, which is also nice to realize. I can still be myself out in the world, at least in this part, where I write.
I think that one of my biggest mistakes over the summer was not re-reading this frequently enough. Lull times are the hardest for me to fight because's there's nothing to fight. I didn't realize until far too late that everyone was looking to me to lead, even as I was actively trying not to stand in front (I was afraid of blocking other people from stepping forward). I'll not make that mistake again. It's made me a better grassroots catalyst now.
I used to claim I hadn't started, didn't know, never got the chance to do something. And all right, sometimes those things are true, but - particularly now that I'm grown - they're rarely not my choice. I have the freedom now to get (eventually) most places I might want to go. I was never coordinated and strong? My choice not to exercise now. I don't speak Mandarin fluently? My choice not to study now. I can't hear birds and flutes? Harder - but my choice not to work on devices and research that might make that day come closer. At this point in time, it's not that I can't do something - but that I can, and choose not to. I know this now.
I've learned more of the language of different disciplines, and I've learned that sometimes following their rules is a good idea. I needed to have my time of knee-jerk rebellion against this because I used to be too tied to history and a blind follower of what I was "supposed" to do. I needed to learn how to ignore history before I could choose to learn from it. You've got to understand and become a part of the thing you're trying to change, though. Maybe it's because you can only change yourself, and so to change something else, you have to become part of it, so you can change the part of it that's you.
I've patched some of my old bugs. I try to take cookies more directly. (Matt Ritter uses the phrase "I'll take a cookie on that" as a polite "I'd love to work on this, but I don't have the time to do so right now." I'm beginning to do the same.) I still use long disclaimers, but more often catch myself doing that and jump straight to the point. And I've accepted the irony of perfectionism being a flaw, even if I can't claim to have fixed it yet.
And I don't often realize just how much I care about some things - and people - but I've had to face that full-on recently. I've been lucky enough to have been forced to face that multiple times over the last few years, but since it's happening a lot right now, the now part seems particularly salient. I shy away from realizing that I care sometimes, because the depth and the intensity of how I love is... terrifying. Whatever it is that keeps the fierceness from breaking through and consuming, possibly destroying, what I love because I love it - whatever keeps that from happening is a very thin and fragile layer, and I've given the things I love the power to destroy me because of it, to stop that from happening.
Hugs are sometimes hard for me because they can be triggers for that kind of explosion that I don't know how to control and consequently don't want to unleash. (That's why functional-ritual-greeting contact is fine, but Real Hugs (TM) are tough.) And sometimes, when I feel like I need them, I break down what I need into functional subcomponents and get each one another way, and that works out. Or I hand out disclaimers and make everybody else wear blast suits and make sure they read a long description of the risks they might be taking on, and put hard limits on those risks. And, you know, it works. But... not... particularly. It's a way of crippling myself, and I know it, and I'm not taking those shackles off yet; I have to work on other ones first.
It scares me to be uncrippling myself. It is the right thing, and I'm much more... me, that way. Have more capacity to do things, good things, be a better person. And it's dangerous for me to be that better person, because maybe because of something that I've unlocked today, it gives me the freedom and the ability to lash out and hurt someone badly. And I'd rather crush myself than have that happen. But I'd rather take the risk that I may have to do that later than to definitely suffocate myself, slowly, right now.
And I try not to direct that towards people, because... I say it's that I don't want to give somebody else the burden of managing my explosiveness, but that could also be phrased as "I don't trust anybody else to do it." This is perhaps the hardest kind of responsibility for me to manage. Being aware. It's hard as hell, and impossible to reach completely.
That seems to describe a good number of things I try to go for anyway.