Some folks never leave home. Literally…and figuratively. They work among similar people. They play among similar people. They vacation with similar people. They drink at bars with similar people. They watch television and listen to radio that exalts the experiences, analysis, and opinions of similar people. They fill their heads and lives with “sameness,” which is most assuredly comfortable, reassuring, and affirming. And it’s not some. Really, it’s most folks. And if I don’t box people in but rather view them as complex individuals who behave differently across different contexts…well, then sometimes all of us never leave home. There are things I need to remain the same. (The song? Does anybody remember laughter?) Morning routine: wake, ice water, smoothie, coffee…precisely in that order. Every day.
Let me here state, firmly, that I am not passing judgment. (Oh, I have passed judgment, and I will again. However, the journey of Driven 2 Drink is to figure out what drives me to drink and then stare in the mirror until I see the real problem.) Who doesn’t love to have a grilled cheese sandwich, or homemade chicken noodle soup, or a thick savory meatloaf, oatmeal with cream and brown sugar on a cold, cold morning?! Comfort food. It’s all comfort food, right? The ways we find to relax, to kick-back, to release our worries of the world, let our guts hang out over our belts, embrace the double chin that’s now growing a third member, and know it’ll all be okay as long as shit remains predictable and familiar.
What I’m saying is…I understand those who “never leave home.” (Shit. I’m currently sitting in my house on a Saturday morning engaged in the same routine I created, nay, inadvertently yet inevitably rutted into, years ago.)
Here’s the problem. For so many people, even when they do literally leave home, they don’t really leave home. You see those vacationers who travel to exotic locales just to find a McDonalds, a Starbucks, an ex-patriot bar, clusters of sameness. They deplane, hop into a car, get transported to the hotel, and then move forward in all ways necessary to avoid discomfort, or novelty, or a challenge to their concept of the way things should be. Hell, there are people who never venture much beyond the back yard. And these behaviors are what lead directly to all of the commonly launched phobias and isms…those of the xeno, homo, race, sex, disability, and class varieties.
What I’m saying is…I understand but quite dislike these particular people. The world rarely exists on a toggle switch, either ON or OFF. Rather, we function along various dimmer switches, or spectrums. The people described above behave as if the world and all relationships are, indeed, absolute and two-toned. They are just more completely that which I, which you, which all of us can be across different contexts. They are ALL that way. They NEVER leave home. To be entirely frank, I don’t fucking get it.
Here’s what I see, anytime Homer (…picture the quintessential sports fan of your locale. The guy local radio lampoons because he’s so identifiable and predictable…) becomes even mildly uncomfortable, encounters someone who doesn’t make complete sense, experiences something that involves novelty and unpredictability and thought…Homer gets angry, often passive-aggressively. If you don’t experience the world, you are cursed to become anxious, worried, fearful, and angry in the world. If you avoid novelty, any change seems monumental and often unethical. And in a world where people are increasingly accepting of the entirety of human diversity, Homer becomes an anachronistic majority. And in a world where people are open and socially-adept and bright…passive-aggressiveness is like sunlight to a vampire (…not a Twilight “vampire,” fuck those guys and their sparkly skin…), water to a Mogwai, or, to really personalize the simile and perhaps get myself in hot water…those sandals that wrap around the ankle and then have a long single strap leading to some big-toe cuff to my eyes. (God, I hate the look of those things. Like a chain diner waitress costume, they make anyone look worse. I think even Romans were like, “Why the fuck can’t someone improve upon this design. Christ, these things make me look like a dipshit.”)
[Digression: I just used an English to Latin translator which, when I typed in that phrase, gave me this: “Quod si non emendavit consilio irrumabo . Christus haec mihi videri dipshit.” Now, when I reversed the translation, the English it gave me back might be the best thing ever said: “But if not made amends for the advice of fuck you. Christ be with me, dipshit.” Go ahead, look around and make sure nobody is nearby. K? Now, say that out loud and try not to laugh.]
[Trigression: If you then reverse THAT English to Latin and then the updated Latin back to English, things become quite clearer, “But if you have not made amends the counsel of the fuck you. Christ be with me, dipshit.”]
[Quadgression: If you continue the reverse translating, you eventually come to a point where the English remains the same. Let’s call this the Omega Translation. And it, indeed, is quite illuminating: “If the council does not suck. Christ be with me, dipshit.”]
The council on those stupid-looking sandals sucked.
Christ be with me, dipshit.
Do you remember where we were? Me either.
Perhaps I should spend less time being angry and judging and more time being grateful and happy that I’ve been exposed to enough of the world to be comfortable just about anywhere I plant my ass and open my mouth. Not perhaps. Definitely. I can be an example of acceptance and inclusion for my step-daughter, my family, my friends, colleagues, clients, and anyone who cares to engage in dialogue with me. On a recent “This American Life,” (555: The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind), research was illuminated indicating people absolutely will change their minds…even on sacred, seemingly infallible topics including marriage equality and abortion, but only if the person pitching the change has the experience being discussed. So, the most effective, and it’s quite significant and practical (e.g. enough to change election results), purveyors of marriage-equality-change are gay individuals who are being denied marriage rights. The most effective method of shifting a “pro-life” mind frame toward “pro-choice” (0=Fully Pro-Life or Anti-Abortion, 10=Fully Pro-Choice or Pro-Abortion) occurs when a woman who has had an abortion and is willing to talk about it makes the pitch. Furthermore, change was most significant and lasting when the person did not launch into heady, value-laden, abstract ethical or political or economic constructs. Rather, the best way to change minds was just to talk about experiences and feelings. Honestly and without judgement.
This has rolled around in my brain for a week now. I’ve had a variety of experiences, and instead of running around judging people, I should just walk the earth open and honestly. And here’s the thing, this impact would likely work in multiple directions…so I might have my inflexible mind changed by another open and honest person. (I do wonder, though, does this impact occur in any direction? Would a woman who’s had an abortion and deeply regrets that choice have a powerful impact, as a mind-changer, on a person self-identified as, “Pro-Choice?” I imagine it would work, particularly if the mind-changee has never experienced an abortion. I can’t see a similar thing regarding marriage equality, though. What? A jaded divorced gay man? Shit, the only argument he’d have might be against marriage…but not gay marriage. Right?)
I digress, again. Sorry. Let’s drive this unwieldy car home.
I can move about and just be myself, share my experiences when asked or invited, behave in an open, kind, inclusive, understanding manner…and then I don’t need to suffer the karmic and biological consequences of all of the anger, anxiety, and judgement. And perhaps an otherwise naive acquaintance will open, even if just a crack, to the possibility of epiphany.
And the acceptance, the embracing, the love of human diversity, interdependency, and experience reveals a truth that brings us full circle. Yes, Toto, there really is no place like (a more broadly defined) home.