…Smile when they are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by, if you smile through your fear and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow you will see the sun come shining through, for you…
The song above has an interesting history.
I’ve found it to be true: After many years of hardship, especially during the pandemic, things are finally looking up again. But just as Charlie Chaplin – although more lucky in some ways – I’ve found as so many people around the world:
When life is sad or difficult you learn to smile to lighten the burden(s).
The song above was originally a piece without words for a film of Chaplin’s, one of his masterpieces. He was there in the beginning of the art of movie making, he improved it and became a master and an inventor with awards and special mentions all around the world. He knew, too.
Can I say anything definitive about it – when so many others seem to have failed? There’s romance to be considered – and jealousy, there’s loneliness that sometimes makes people rush into things; there’s fear of rejection, and heartbreak. The stories and plays, poems and songs that have been made are legion; I wonder if not the whole of mankind is seeped through and through with the eternal quest for love and passion and safety – and often in vain.
I always wondered why people are and behave the way they do. Why? Pain, especially. Why would people cause others pain on purpose? Revenge is also a subject in that sphere…when emotions or just pride are hurt and people start out on a hunt, as it were, to avenge themselves.
There are the archetypes that C.G. Jung, a successor of Sigmund Freud, defined: Symbols as figures, ideas of human types of behaviour, such as the bridesmaid, the bride, the damsel in distress and so on.
Many ideas we come in contact with are involved with the idea of love. The very basic longing for harmony and closeness with another human being that Erich Fromm called the need for overcoming the feeling of separateness (quoted from memory).
As most of us I have gone through some pain in that respect myself – as well as some joy.
There are patterns of human behaviour, male and female that you often find mirrored in (usually) cheap movies and stories: They ‘feed’ on those stereotypes and can be rather distracting, if you do not look beyond the images. For your own truth as well as of that of the other person.
Patterns of power relationships are involved, deeply sometimes and most of it not consciously: In patriarchy the man is to be supposed to be always cool, calm, collected and ‘on top’ of the situation. That means that he may tend to look for a life partner slightly his inferior in education, upbringing, or income, in order to feel like a ‘real’ man.
Women in turn may easily tend to look for a ‘strong, superior’ man in order to fulfill those roles.
Sometimes these roles are a safe bet.
Sometimes they are not.
The basics I learned to be true too, by reading, observation and my own experience are these:
We tend to look for a partner who understands – us.
Passion may perhaps be easy to come by – if you are not too particular; some apparently get ‘sozzled’ with intake of substances to make that part easy. Some buy it.
Some wait for a long time to combine the ‘nature and nurture’, the experience and personal liking with a ‘soulmate’, in love and passion. My special regards to all of you people of like minds!
Whatever you do, remember these two ideas, to me they make the most sense of all:
In passion: All is fair as long as it is not done with children – and not by force. Consenting adults.
In love: “Whatever works.”
Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving
Alexander Lowen: Love, Sex and Your Heart
Steve Biddulph: The Making of Love
Paul Watzlawick: The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness
Gerti Senger: Alles Liebe (German)
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” The three wise monkeys are a concept, an idea, that stems from the Japanese culture. They are a proverbial idea of how to deal with bad or evil matters in human life. When you are raised on the idea that one should be truthful, that denial can be bad for you, you may be apt to wonder.
How is such an idea a good thing?
To my mind it’s two very important points to be considered here:
Words are powerful, they create images in our minds.
It’s not about denial – it’s about focus.
Images in our minds are powerful, as has been since established in scientific research too: They help us keep focus, they can drive our actions that way – and make us feel weak and insecure – or confident and strong.
One technique that also has been advocated for business negotiations and even marketing – is to ‘visualize‘:
Start using what you have learned in terms of ideas and words to actively make up the image of what you are aiming at.
Your next project, a higher level of health – or understanding, in short, some measure of self-awareness or efficacy different from before.
That’s why the idea of the three wise monkeys can help not only focus – they help us focus on all the things that make us strong, confident and positive about reaching the goal. Which does not necessarily mean wealth or power.
The community at large will benefit from such views:
From the idea that you will not listen to rumours which may be even false.
From the idea that you will not direct your gaze onto the bad or worse matters, not focus on the bad things.
From the idea that you yourself will not help either creating rumours or bad ideas – or spread those images.
Words are powerful, in all ways. That’s why focusing on the good is important.
Not because one would deny problems or difficulties or the downright evil – but because they can help to make it better, again.
The image makes it as clear as daylight: What we see is what we think it to be. In many cases. But it’s not always clear right at first what it is we see, exactly.
So, one thing are the facts of the matter.
How we interpret them is the next step. Not only in regard to the actual being: Is it a snake in the grass – or just a bubbling brook?
In general: Appearances can be deceptive.
It is a wise man – or woman – who takes time for judgement. And checks their (assumed) facts before acting.
Of course, in simple cases – let’s say, asking yourself if that egg is really fresh – nothing much is needed to make sure. Yet, better to do so. Or the whole dish will go to waste.
But in terms of situations and people? How easy is it to be mistaken? And to be taken for something you aren’t?
The most tragic occurrences of such grave mistakes are miscarriages of justice. People sentenced to years of prison, yet proven innocent years or even decades later. Or sentenced to death and executed. The newspaper reports and movies on the subject run to hundreds if not thousands.
In everyday life just as well things can easily become tragic, if we are not careful with either our facts – or their interpretation.
So, next time around, check your perspective, your facts – and your sources.
It’s interesting to note how ways to communicate – to talk – differ. Even inside one country, differ by region. Where I come from history had people be in touch with half the world – trading through the international society called “Hanse” was everywhere. The ‘world came into town’, you might say.
From those times it seems the tradition of light banter, light talk to any stranger, even a short, light conversation, a few jokes, is common. They are famous in other parts of the country for chatting at the supermarket checkout for a few minutes, just like that…
Yet, real friendship takes the same time as anywhere else in the world: Know your ‘peer’ – and perhaps go through some hard times together; learn whom to trust.
In other places I found that people sometimes tend to be glum, even irritable at first contacts. Only after a while they ‘thaw’ to strangers. And the aforementioned light-hearted banter is even considered flimsy.
From a lot of ‘sighting of strangers’ from all around the world in business and studies I can say and encourage: Take your time and know: Not every smile ‘wells’ from light sources – not every gloomy person is faithful…
Life can be full of surprises. Especially when you expect a certain degree of ‘sameness’, that is people to be the same as yourself, or at least very similar.
Common assumptions are based on a few, sometimes almost crude, differentiations and types, such as the types of the title: the nerd, the partygoer and the bookish type, the bookworm. Interestingly enough, as soon as you use these terms, people start coming up with images in their minds:
The bookish type like the proverbial church mouse, grey all over, always buried in some book or other and perhaps even a little other-worldly. Not well-versed in the ways of the world.
The nerd, to my mind to some extent the modern version of the bookworm: Always having something or other to do with a digital device, the laptop these days, a smart phone, a computer or any other digital device you can think of. Buried too, in a way in their work.
The partygoer, a colourful appearance, rather talkative and even loud, attracting attention wherever they go, with pleasure, sometimes overdoing it a little, perhaps.
But these are the stereotypes. I am not saying they do not help. But if we use the stereotypes alone to judge people or to make sense of them, we may be mistaken.
There are not only ‘sub-types’. There’s usually more to human life and needs or wishes or dreams than just the external signs or the typical behaviour you may conclude because that’s all you are looking for.
In other words: Human beings and life are rather more colourful than a party dress.
‘There is more to it than meets the eye’: One might think of icebergs, the bulk of their mass is below the surface.
Try the kaleidoscope, it’s a favourite image I use to make my point. There’s black, white, green and red. But there are so many more colours to it, to life that is. There’s grey, gold and silver and heaps of others. And each comes in so many shades, too. (Not just shades of grey. 😉 )
I am a person who always has loved books, for me reading is like talking in my head. I hear language I write practically the same way, too, the same way I hear spoken words: With melody to it.
I know not everyone is the same; some people just do not like books or reading that much and avoid it if they don’t have to. I respect that.
I think it is vital for a peaceful existence to accept diversity, the truly colourful existence on this Earth, of humans as well as any other living or breathing entity.
Erich Fromm, Alexander Lowen, Sigmund Freud, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Alxandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, The Brontë Sisters, Shakespeare, Plato, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle,…the list goes on and on and on…. And those are only a very major few dealing with live, love, sex, gambling, man vs mankind, culture, thoughts, ideas in human life, right, wrong, and human needs. I’ve read so many books in the course of my life that I can truly say they cover a mid-sized library. A couple of thousands.
Opposed to that are the images you find in many Hollywood movies (often especially the ones drawing huge audiences), on Social Media – strange word for such a rather ‘un-social’ market place – but then, ever since the Ancient times it was common calling bad or problematic things by good names – to lessen the fear or dread of it, such as the Black Sea known to be dangerous to sailors. They called it “Pontos Euxeinos” in Greek, the friendly, kind sea.
Market places: Marketing images are everywhere – and they ‘feed’ on stereotypes.
Reading and thinking on your feet, you might say, trains the mind; trains your thinking, to go beyond common images, and be – at some point – a complete and wholesome human being rather than someone chasing the latest fashions in order to be fashionable – and be ‘IN’.
The monster, the lady in distress, the prince and the common man to rescue her so they can fall in love with her afterwards…
C.G. Jung, a Freud-disciple, called them ‘archetypes’ that have been around for many centuries in human existence, in the West at least, and patriarchal society, and thus are part of all our common (usually unconscious) heritage of ideas and wishes.
Most important in this respect to me are these ideas:
Knowing about something does not mean you had to do it first in order to understand.
Wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge. Wisdom is the combination of empathy (know human emotions) with experience and knowledge to truly understand human life.
The loud and ‘active’ are equated; the fast runner and the quick result of a ‘win’ are equated; the ‘meet and talk about it’ and reaching results are equated. Why – and since when?
Hold up something that looks like a real brick of a thing – when it’s actually ‘just’ a card in a card game, nice and solid viewed from the front, but thin and without any substance viewed from the sides.
In business especially since WWII and the advent of the ‘new economy’ some ideas have been churned around for decades now, which amount to this:
Prove your work, your results and your professionalism by making lots of nice noise, present and talk about what you do. Run around a lot, talk to people a lot. That way, everybody will be impressed by your ‘busy bee’ image of the worker bee…
Yet, when all is said and done, what is work – or business, for that matter – about? About reaching results. Creating them, changing them, ultimately selling things, and earn your salary – and the revenue.
The ‘cards of the game’ can be that: A lot of noise, not to say hot air – but when you look closely, from a different angle, it’s a rather thin substance…
Do not underestimate those who have their goals and priorities straight and focused and will reach them with the least amount of ‘noise’ and the maximum amount of output. Not all who are calm – or quiet – are ‘passive’…Not all who are loud are really active…
As a writer you want to convey your ideas, thoughts or realizations. Some just like to share, some would like to make life easier, by analysis and understanding more deeply; some need an outlet for their pain.
What it also means, is this:
Sharing thoughts, ideas, movies or results of research does not mirror one’s own experience 1:1 in every single case.
Humans are capable of a wonderful gift: Empathy.
That is what sharing can be about:
Empathising, because you feel or hear the others’ pain. And for those that feel pain the fact that someone actually understands can be a wonderful relief.