Wednesday, November 30, 2011

People as Punctuation

Some people are periods. Some are exclamation points. Some are commas. I'm a question mark.

I know, I know...I spend far, far too much time on introspection and trying to figure out exactly what the hell is going on. I never have and probably never will understand the world or my place in it, and I spend so much time dwelling on me because I don't know nearly enough to presume to talk about you and your place in the world. I just do a wing-it hopeful assumption that maybe there are some things about life that you don't understand, either

We look out on the sea of faces around us, and we see...faces; the surface. We can make assumptions based on a number of probably unreliable clues, such as how other people carry themselves and the ease with which they relate to others. But we cannot know what goes on beneath those surfaces because we're all programmed to keep the vast bulk of what's going on inside our individual selves...well, inside. We seldom know for sure what punctuation marks lie beneath the surface.

I'm not sure--three words which sum up my existence--why; probably because our punctuation marks are hidden beneath the all-inclusive blanket of what they call "cultural imperatives": actions dictated by belief systems shared by/unconsciously imposed on a group or individual by the greater society, and to which all members of that group adhere. Given that there are now more than seven billion of us, without some sort of imposed unanimity it would be like throwing a Molotov cocktail into a fireworks factory.

As a result, most of us are extremely hesitant to let anyone know what lies beneath the surface. But as you have probably noticed, I have a penchant for laying myself out like a "help yourself" table at a rummage sale. Nothing's secret; nothing's too sacred to be talked about.

Because, not understanding what is expected of me...even by myself...I am too easily confused, frustrated, and angered. I blame myself for what I see as my failings--which I do not readily see when looking at the surfaces of others. And I, personally, am always favorably swayed though often misled by what I consider to be beautiful or attractive people (especially men, of course). And I tend to ascribe to them qualities they may not indeed possess simply because I consider them to be beautiful or attractive. (This, by the way, seems to be fairly universal trait.)

Growing older certainly exacerbates the entire situation. On those rare occasions when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I am truly, sincerely shocked by what I see. Who IS that man? What became of ME? I find it bitterly ironic that, while I was young, I always considered myself singularly unattractive, and it is only now, looking back a photos of myself, that I realize I wasn't all that unattractive at all. Why couldn't I have realized it at the time?

At times I have the distinct impression that life is a game of cat and mouse...and guess who's the mouse?

When it comes to one's--okay, my--relationship with other people it is once again largely a matter of assumption. I can assume things about you based on personal observation, but I can't know for sure that I'm right. The hope/assumption that you share some of my feelings, reactions, and instincts sufficiently to understand what I'm saying is partly, I'm sure, a method I use to avoid feeling any more like an outsider than I have to. Yet all I need do is look at the news or listen to Rush Limbaugh/Eric Cantor/Michelle Bachmann and their ilk to be quite sure that I'm living in some sci-fi movie, surrounded by beings totally alien from myself.

Some people--the exclamation points--stride through life, purposeful and sure of themselves and their place in it; most are periods--just pleasantly compliant round dots, simply accepting things as they are; a few are commas, a little bolder than periods, curious about what comes next in life. I and my fellow question marks, by our very nature, can never be content--there is just too much to know and not enough time to know it. And every answer hides another question.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( )


Kage Alan said...

You're absolutely correct. I had certain assumptions about you before I'd even spoken to you or met you. All of it came from reading e-mails where you were disagreeing with everybo...a few folks. You scared the hell out of me, you did!

Turns out you're a cuddly puppy dog. Who knew? I didn't.

Dorien/Roger said...

Wait until you see tomorrow's blog..."The Curmudgeon's Song"! But I'm glad you realize my bark is worse than my bite.