Saturday, May 05, 2007

my f*!#ing shoes

One Sunday about ten years ago I went with a friend to a New Age/Psychic Fair at the St Kilda town hall in Melbourne. There were plenty of people offering Tarot card readings, aura readings (complete with photographs) and the like, but the queues were long and the cost for most things was prohibitive. Rather than go home without experiencing anything 'otherwordly' we ended up having our palms read by a man who hadn't been reading for all that long. One of the few things I remember him telling me was that he could see I was angry. At the time I thought, yeah, I'm angry I wasted 20 bucks on someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. I never saw myself as an angry young man at all.

I think, however, that I have become angry - or certainly angrier - over time (who knows how far back it goes?). This is something that's taken me a while to see, mainly because I rarely expressed my anger in explosive bursts. I usually vent any frustration through healthy doses of swearing mixed with blaspheming (depending on whose company I'm in - I tend to be mindful around children and one or two Christians) and then it's over, dealt with. And every now n then I'll write a letter, sign a petition or attend a rally, but as I said, I never thought that I was particularly angry. In fact people comment on the calming influence I exude.

But in the past 6 months or so I've come to realise I do carry a hefty dose of anger within and part of it stems from stupid people, which when it all boils down to it actually means people who don't look at life the same way I do. Thankfully, one of the conclusions I've (finally) reached is that it's ridiculous for me to expect all those fucking idiots everyone to have the same opinions as me or to look at the world the same way I do even if I think my way of looking at life is pretty easy.

About ten years ago I also came across a book written by Tom Spanbauer called The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon. It's one of those books I need (and want) to read again. Something Tom wrote in this amazing book has stayed with me ever since. It was about what happens "when knowledge becomes understanding". You can know this and know that, but until you actually have a degree of understanding you don't get anywhere really (I don't think you need to understand completely, though that's probably worth aiming for) .

So the dickhead bigot on the street may know I'm a faggot, but without understanding me (or homosexuality) he just remains ignorant. And although I know he's a bigot, until I understand why he's like that (understand him) surely I remain just as ignorant. There's a place for love and compassion and a whole host of other worthwhile things to guide us through life, but I truly believe a lack of understanding results in anger and ultimately gets us nowhere. One song that struck me as a kid was Joe South's Walk a Mile in My Shoes, which has also been recorded by people such as Elvis Presley and more recently Cold Cut. I tried to post Joe's version of it from YouTube, but I couldn't (though I have managed to link). Instead of being angry about this I'll let you find your own way to YouTube and check out whichever version you like, if you want to. Otherwise, here are the words. I'm heading off to dance at Palms!

If I could be you
And you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way
To get inside
Each other's mind

If you could see you
Through my eyes
Instead of your ego
I believe you'd be
Surprised to see
That you've been blind

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Before you abuse, criticise and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Now your whole world
You see around you
Is just a reflection
And the law of Karma
Says you're gonna reap
Just what you sow

So unless you've
Lived a life
Of total perfection
You'd better be careful
Of every stone
That you should throw

And if we spend the day
Throwing stones
At one another
'Cause I don't think
Or wear my hair
The same way you do

Well I may be
Common people
But I'm your brother
And when you strike out
And try and hurt me
It's hurting you
(Lord have mercy)

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey before you abuse, criticise and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

There are people
On reservations
And out in the ghettos
and brother there
But for the grace of God
Go you and I

And if I only
Had wings of an angel
Don't you know I'd fly
To the top of a mountain
And then I'd cry:

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey before you abuse, criticise and accuse
Better walk a mile in my shoes
(Drop what you're doing)

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Oh before you abuse, criticise and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey before you abuse, criticise and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes


Blogger Miss Litzi said...

Hi Nash,
This is a wonderful, thought provoking post. I’ve read it twice and before I make a f*!#ing idiot of myself, I’m going to mull over my thoughts and comment later on today. There’s no need for you to have an even heftier dose of anger caused from stupid people making inane remarks! And here I thought I was the only one who was intolerant of vapid, vexatious, exasperating individuals! By Crikey!

May 06, 2007 1:41 AM  
Blogger Miss Litzi said...

Hi Nash,
Two years ago, a cousin whom I’d been corresponding with for 6 months (and never met in person) informed me rather nastily that I had a great deal of pent up anger that I’d better deal with before I became a bitter, lonely old woman. Her comment made me bristle. I’d always considered myself amicable and pleasant around people. Like you, it took someone else to point out that I was indeed acrimonious and intolerant. But I also felt justified with my ill-humor, as I’d been through some rough times and felt no one could begin to understand what was going on inside my head. “Walk a Mile In My Shoes” should’ve been my theme song back then.

I just changed the “about me” on my blog site recently; “if we could see ourselves as others see us, we probably wouldn’t take a second look”. (A quote from Herbert V. Prochnow, who was a U.S. banking executive, noted toastmaster and author during the middle of the 20th Century.) It’s applicable to the shallow arses that make no effort to comprehend the life styles or opinions of those around them. These unsophisticated eejit’s cause anguish and torment without giving it any thought and wonder why the world around them is so malevolent. “Mirrors are our constant companions-and our companions are our constant mirrors”. Dyspeptic individuals tend to congregate together and create a virulent “aura” wherever they are. I agree with you that there’s a place for love and compassion and a whole lot goodness to help see us through this world; why waste time being spiteful and churlish? People shouldn’t judge others before they judge themselves....because they’ll always come up lacking.

This is a wonderful post.

May 06, 2007 10:04 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Ah, the man who fell in love with the moon. I haven't read that in years. What a beautiful book. Tom lived here for awhile, you know, in Boise. The geography he describes is all right here. Even the characters, some historical, some fellows that are friends of mine. He is missed.


May 06, 2007 11:41 AM  
Blogger Campbell said...

I tend to think of myself as not a particularly angry person, then get surprised at how I react to somethings. Makes me wonder what's deep down inside me.
For me, becoming a parent got me in touch with the extremeties of my emotions. I felt this most amazing love which scared me because I didn't know what to do with it, but I also felt terrifying rage which was even more scary.
Anger in itself isn't a bad thing - depends on how it's expressed and how all consuming it is.
As always Nash, a great post! Very thought provoking.

May 06, 2007 1:40 PM  
Blogger marc said...

My father used to quote a French proverb: "Comprendre, c'est tout pardonnner." (To understand, is to forgive everything.)

He was a wise man, my Dad. I wish I hadn't been so angry at him. (He drank--and of course it was the not-yet-sober alcoholic son who held it against him.)

May 07, 2007 3:32 PM  
Blogger nash said...

Thanks Miss Litzi,
I'd noticed you'd changed your "about me" recently - great choice.

I guess I've come to realise that I'm responsible for the way I react to other people's ignorance and there's no point getting angry - at least no point stewing on things. I was recently quoted in an article that discussed the age it was deemed appropriate to tell children about gay relationships. I was astounded by (and angry about) the reaction. The majority of people turned it into a thing about sex and saw it as bad, dirty etc etc and nothing to do with love and relationships. And these people are supposedly teaching their children.

Also, I've recently read posts on some blogs that I link to where the writers are very angry about different issues and although I don't want to appear all Pollyanna about stuff I'm glad I've got a new (less angry) perspective. It shapes how I view other areas of my life

Hi Chris,
Welcome to 'drift' and thanks for leaving a comment. Tom Spanbauer's book is indeed beautiful. Glad you know it

Hi Campbell,
What you say about anger makes a lot of sense to me (now!). What was your rage about? Was it anything to do with the state of the world and what your child might have to deal with sort of stuff?

Hi Marc,
I like the sound of your Dad. I'm contemplating writing a post about fathers (or parents) one of these daze. You've obviously reached a new understanding of yours, which can only be a good thing

Thanks everyone for dropping by. No comments about the YouTube link? My housemate saw it and laughed that the clip was just an ol' vinyl record spinning round on the turntable. Ha!

May 07, 2007 6:45 PM  
Blogger Miss Litzi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 08, 2007 2:31 AM  
Blogger Miss Litzi said...

Hi Nash,
“I’ve come to realize that I’m responsible for the way I react to other people’s ignorance and there’s no point getting angry”; that’s a wonderful philosophy to live no means easy, but nevertheless very wise.

I’ve never understood why people get so bent out of shape about gay versus straight relationships. The same ignorant bigots who rant on and on about “alternative” life styles sure as hell wouldn’t like it if someone chewed them a new one about their own sex life. It’s this narrow minded kind of thinking that’s passed down from generation to generation that allows racial, religious and sexual hatred to continue…

I don’t know whether you saw my comment to TotalChaos a few months ago but a childhood friend of mine’s son jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge (in San Francisco) at age 15 because he’d just come out and was totally distraught about being “discovered” among his peers at school. My friend and her husband had given their son enormous moral support and love, but in the end that wasn’t enough to overcome the vitriolic words being spewed out by his classmates. Here’s a link if you’re interested in reading a bit more detail about this tragic story: Stephanie Reed

I think a lot of people write blogs as a catharsis for their anger, confusion, etc. and once they’ve cleansed their soul, quit writing and move on to something else….

May 08, 2007 2:58 AM  
Blogger Campbell said...

Thanks for the link Miss Litzi. It was an extremely sad and moving account. I can only begin to imagine the intensity of feelings that brings one to seriously contemplate suicide.

May 08, 2007 6:48 AM  
Blogger Miss Litzi said...

Hi Campbell,
UR welcome! Yes, it was heart wrenching. I’ve known Stephanie for 50 years and she’s a remarkably resilient woman. Her younger brother drown in the Carmel River (that’s in California, where I live) when he was 18 years old. Another brother was diagnosed with kidney cancer when he was 48; he’s in remission right now but that kind of cancer quite often reappears somewhere else in the body in time. Stephanie had a serious fall on her bicycle two years ago and is still experiencing some problems. Her 18-month old Grandson was born deaf. But when you’re with her, you’d never know that she’s been so plagued with grief and sorrow throughout her life. She’s gentle, serene and an absolute delight to talk to.

When I contemplate Stephanie’s ordeals, I realize I’ve nothing to be angry or complain about….

May 08, 2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger nash said...

Hi Miss Litzi,
Thanks for the link to your friend's story. Adding to the whole tragedy of this beautiful young person's suicide is the fact that he obviously came from a loving, supportive family, but sadly, the message he ultimately received from "society" resulted in a painful burden. I have a nephew who turns 15 this week and I've always wondered if he's gay. I hope he'll be able to reach out to me if and when he needs to whether he's gay or not

Sadly, the friend I wrote about in this post, who attended the New Age Fair with me, took her own life in December

May 08, 2007 11:51 AM  
Blogger Miss Litzi said...

Hi Nash,
“The message he ultimately received from ‘society’ resulted in a painful burden”. I can’t help but ask “why”? Why can’t other people mind their own business; why do people feel it imperative to foist their beliefs off on others; why can’t we live and let live? Does your 15 year old nephew know you’re gay? Is he able to talk to you openly? Naïvely, before Stephanie told me about Robin, I’d no idea this sort of horrendous behavior was going on in the public schools…especially one in such close proximity to San Francisco. I’d thought Northern California was more receptive to the diverse population that lives there. And your friend who took her life last December is another tragic statistic in this vicious cycle. Do you think it’ll ever change? It’s all so very sad….

May 08, 2007 12:42 PM  
Blogger nash said...

Hi Miss Litzi,
I have two nephews and I've never actually told either of them I'm gay. When I came out to their mother - my sister-in-law - they were very young and she didn't want to tell them. I didn't push it because she was dealing with some major problems at the time. Then I moved to Sydney and I guess it was out of sight, out of mind although both my nephews have met ex-partners of mine. I don't know whether they ever had an inkling or asked their parents, but if they ever ask me I'll tell them...

Will it ever change? I hope so. But sometimes I think it's a case of two steps forward, one step back.

May 08, 2007 4:18 PM  

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