Robert (gurdonark) wrote,


"If you have fish that are incorrigble diggers, then it is hard to use the substrate amendments that improve plant growth"--Karen Randall's Sunken Gardens in the April 2003 issue of Aquarium Fish.

One of the hardest things about defining universal ideas about living is that everyone has a different set of background circumstances. Some people grow up nurtured and warm, other people grow up stifled and cold. A few people hardly get a real chance to grow up at all, but instead must struggle in the worst situations. I think this variance of maturation makes for very different working assumptions about how life works.

One constant I notice is the way in which self-defeating behaviors plague so many folks. In my own case, poor diet is my nemesis, although ever since a late January doctor's appointment showed both my weight and blood pressure were up, I've returned to healthier eating, with noticeable improvements on both counts. My other nemesis, disorganization, remains a constant bane in my life.

I'd love to be able to blame either nature or nurture for these conditions, but I'm afraid I must shoulder these vices as simply my own, which I alone can take responsibility for and fix. I just didn't have the "bad cards" that others have been dealt to excuse the way I've matured.

I think that faults are normal, and largely acceptable, and just part of life. A few of my personal traits are faults in one context, and virtues in another. But I do feel badly for at least two people close to me whose particular idiosyncracies make stability impossible to achieve. In both instances, whenever these folks have their lives "in order", they do dysfunctional things to destroy the order. I know that there are complex interactions and childhood issues at play here, but I don't know enough about them to say anything, either to them or here. I just know that there's something complex and difficult, related to their in-built notions about "habitat" or "family", that is at work.

I think that the hardest part of tolerance is to accept that others have to work out their problems, and that one can only do very little to help with some problems. Fortunately, the things one can do--listen, just be there, are within my limited skill set. So many times, especially with a number of the "bad childhood overhanging" problems, the person experiencing the problem must work through it himself or herself. There are no universals, because of the range of good and awful childhoods possible, but often all one can really do is say "these are my cards, and now I must play them anyway".

I always liked the police sergeant on the TV show "Hill Street Blues" who closed each morning's staff meeting with the phrase "hey, let's be careful out there!". Really, is there anything more one can say?

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