Monday, April 10, 2006

On being special and being rude

I’m on vacation in Moses Lake with Heather’s family. It’s spring break so I’m trying to minimize the amount of time she has to be alone with the boys. As the longer you have to watch them, the more annoying their boyhood propensities become. One of our usual activities while here is visiting some of Heather’s old childhood friends. Well, the ones who still care. (And some who don’t.) Well I heard a comment second hand from one of them that they thought I was stand-offish since I usually have a sketchbook or a little claw, arm, hand, etc. to sculpt on. This is certainly understandable, and I feel bad that it’s interpreted that way. It’s something that my ex never accepted about me. She simply decided to change that aspect of me. But after I gained my freedom from her mold, and was able to slowly re-shape myself I’m sure I dropped some of the positive attributes that came along with being controlled. Since I don’t seem to care about other’s opinions of me as much as most people do, being forced to think about other’s feelings could sometimes be a good thing. But like all situations where you have to be good, there comes a point where you realize it’s not your heart causing you to behave, but external forces. And if those are removed your natural state of selfishness will come to the surface. I think that’s why so many college freshmen go crazy.

Anyway, now I have a character defining dilemma to address. Or a chance to decide how I will be perceived. Not in that vain, self glorifying way: like whom do I want to impress. But in that putting-others-first way that I’m trying to get my kids to understand. See, as far as I’m concerned, I have a really good reason for having art with me all the time. And I know that I’m engaged and participating in the social situation when I’m making art. Given the demands in my life, an hour or two at our church parenting meeting or theological discussion group is a prime opportunity to make valuable headway in the projects that get shoved to the side if I don’t find every chance that comes along to work on them. For me, it’s multi-tasking at its best. I don’t need the part of my brain that listens to information and processes it to sculpt or draw, so if I’m in a class without art stuff I feel like I’m wasting time. I almost feel guilty about it. My hands and eyes are sitting useless while my brain works. Theoretically I could be taking notes, but I’m really bad at that. I can’t think and write at the same time, so my notes end up being half formed sentences that I could never decode later, or broad headings that don’t have enough detail to be useful.

On the other hand, what I am missing, especially during group interaction, is the non-verbal communication that is so important for people to feel that they are being listened to and understood. I don’t see those signals, and I’m not sending them since my hands and eyes are engaged. So for people to whom those aspects of conversation are important, (almost everyone) I’m essentially cutting myself off from them by my extra-curricular activities. Kind of like wearing sunglasses during a heart-to-heart talk. (I guess.) But then I think about quilting bees, barn-raising, and other communal activities that are heavily conversational, while still centering on an activity. But I suppose the premise of the meeting defines people’s expectations of what the member’s hands and eyes should be doing.

I guess what it comes down to is that I’m sending signals out that the vast majority of people interpret as, “I don’t care about you as much as I care about my weird little project.” And I suppose that is not really the heart of Christ. He wants people to know that I do care about them more than my weird little projects. I just wish people could understand that I’m driven by a calling to impact society through my art, and that I don’t have enough freeking time in the day to take care of myself, my family, and them, to accomplish that goal. I want people to be understanding of the fact that I’m speeeeeeecial!

And now that I’ve dug that deeply within myself I see, like almost all the problems in my life, this stems from a lack of faith. I think if I don’t multi-task like this I will never be able to achieve God’s plan in my life. But really, if I am not focused on serving those around me and making a positive impact on their lives, why would I expect God to give me the power to impact my whole society? I must show myself faithful in the small things before I will be given the responsibility to be faithful with the big things. (Like my big dream.) If my path to fulfilling my big dream involves driving by, or driving over, those around me to get there, why would I expect God to honor that dream?

I’m blessed in that my goal in life is absolutely impossible without God so that I can’t afford to take short cuts through morally questionable terrain to get there. The Bible says that He will make our paths straight. And that He is a light for our path. It’s our own reasoning that makes our road to His will circuitous. It’s our ideas of what seems right to us that gets us lost in the dark. And there is nothing darker or more myopic than putting our desires first. So when it comes to being a good steward of the gifts that God has given me, I’ve got to consider the gift of other people and their needs above my artistic gifts, lofty goals, and yes, even my specialness.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're jut jealous of your special-ness. Keep being yourself. It is nice that you're aware of how you effect other people, but it's not everything. Keep making your art, there's not enough of it in the world! :)

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe. Personally, I hear better when my hands are busy. I have met knitters who say the same thing. Maybe if you said, "Do you mind if I do this while we talk? I actually hear better if I do this, but if you need me to look at you, I can do that." Or would that still make them feel bad? This is an interesting problem you have brought up.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:33 AM  

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