Wednesday, August 6, 2008

People are filled with contradictions

I was on the metro and I met this man, let's call him Frasier, and I was somewhat surprised at our conversation. He was polite and kind even but said the strangest things. He thanked me for looking cheerful because everyone else on the metro seemed a little down, I guess. Then he asked me what I "do" and that, of course, what a complicated question to answer. He got the idea, at least, that I am headed in a certain direction and I want to be able to help people in whatever I end up doing. He said that was noble. Then...

The went into a very long monologue about how the equal rights for women movement ruined America. He was a self-proclaimed "male chauvinist". I just listened to him. He said that he thought women should be able to vote, that's ok, but that they really should stay at home, take care of the kids, and cook. I don't know what happened to my facial expressions as he said all of this, I'm guessing I was quite composed. He said that he hated it when women acted like men and he wished that they wouldn't be so annoying. I wasn't sure what he wanted me to get out of all of his ranting (it was a quiet ranting) but, before he left he thanked me for the 'conversation' telling me it was pleasant and told me that I was doing something good. (??)

I didn't really know what to make of him. I think that those kinds of contradictions are so common. Everyone, everyone is filled with contradictions and paradoxes. We are open and closed, we are trusting and fearful, we are hopeful and discouraged. What should we make of these contradictions? I'm not sure. I could have judged Frasier and maybe (in my heart) "give it back to him" blaming people like him for everything that's wrong in 'America'. But, the truth is that I didn't think that, I just realized that I didn't understand him. It is probably a better starting point to know that I don't understand other people than to assume than I do.

I'm not quite sure what to do with all the contradictions but, it certainly challenges me to be more patient with others because I realize how much I need others to be patient with me.

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live the questions now... R.M. Rilke