Monday, April 21, 2014


How human beings…well, let’s narrow that down a bit…how I…can possibly exist in this world, let alone accomplish anything constructive while in it is a total mystery. Actually, pretty much of everything is a total mystery to me. When it comes to the question of understanding—understanding anything at all—the answer for me is both simple and deeply sincere: I don’t. I never have.

Not understanding leads to frustration and too often sends me into a truly frightening spiral of self-loathing. How can I be so stupid as to not understand?

To make a list of the things I do not understand would take far more time than either you or I have, so what follows is a mere sampling.

Instruction manuals and directions of any kind are totally beyond my comprehension. I often cannot get further than a paragraph into them without becoming totally lost. 

“Insert tab A into slot B. Multiply by the gross national product of Guatamala.” What?

“To continue, please enter an alternate email address.” What? I only have one email address! But they—whoever “they” might be—won’t let me proceed without one. What does everyone else do? I haven’t a clue.

How can there possibly be so much stupidity, hatred, bigotry, and mean-spiritedness in the world? What do these people use for common sense? How can otherwise intelligent, good people so readily believe the most blatant, illogical, transparently egregious lies.

I have developed a stoic acceptance of many things which I cannot understand: heterosexuality, for example. I was born of heterosexual parents; I live in a heterosexual world, utterly surrounded by heterosexuals. I like nearly all the heterosexuals I know as individuals, yet I do not understand their relationships. 

I do not understand either the rules or the appeal of organized sports or organized religions. More death and misery can be traced to organized religion than any other single cause.

I do not understand why nothing is ever as simple as it should—and I expect it to—be.

I do not understand tattoos or piercings or how anyone could conceivably want to deface their bodies in either practice.

I do not understand how people can become so fixated on the personal lives of celebrities they have never met and never will meet and neither know nor care that they exist, yet so casually ignore all those around them who could use even such basic gestures as a smile or a kind word.

In truth, I do not always understand myself. Why am I not more kind, or more understanding, or more outgoing, or more patient, or work harder at things I want to accomplish? Why am I so self-critical—and so self-centered?

Life is a highway with an infinite number of detours and no road map, and each of us must find our own way as best we can. As I said at the beginning, I really understand almost nothing, and some 80 years down the highway, it is unlikely that I ever will; yet I find it an oddly noble human trait that I—that we all—somehow bumble through in spite of everything; and we do survive. I guess that’s all we can really expect.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

Two things. First, I once tried to learn to speak Cantonese because I thought it would be fun to pick some up when I go overseas with the hubby. I bought a language tape series and, I kid you not, the lessons went from "hello", to numbers, to "I'd like to rent a hotel room facing the water, but with no breeze, yet with a breathtaking view that will leave me sitting in awe of life for many hours."

I never really did pick up Cantonese after that.

Second, you mentioned tattoos. I have one and I got it when I was 24. Why? That was about the time I came out and this specific tattoo was symbolic about making something very wrong in my life into something right. It's a reminder to me of what good change can be. I can't speak for others, but it's why I have mine. =)