Archive for July, 2015

A Paradox of Being Human

We are the most self-aware species on the planet. We live out our lives in our minds; our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and memories driving much of what we do, with an internal monolog of what we tell ourselves, how we believe the world is working, what we like, what we want, etc.

DeckPathAnd yet our physiology is geared for us to work in groups. Dependent on them, and also vital to them in various ways. Our lives are tethered together in a complex web of support and cooperative relationships.

Without the characteristics required to evolve our social sensibilities, which resulted in our banding together in groups or tribes, our species likely would not have survived. It certainly wouldn’t have flourished as it did. We are the only species to go significantly beyond adapting ourselves to the world. We have in many ways adapted the world to us.

We walk our paths together on the surface, but at the end of the day we are each alone. Our own little cell of awareness, yet part of a whole we cannot live without. The existential element of satisfaction or feeling good is our blessing and curse. We do not control it, at least not directly, yet it controls us. As our moods change, our opportunities and even capabilities change. We need the help of others for validation. And we need the satisfaction ourselves that we get through helping others.

But at night we are still alone with our thoughts. And we don’t control much of it.

The “I Hope You…” Blow Off

ManWallBlowOff“I hope you get it.”

“I hope you make it.”

“I hope you are well.”

“I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

What do these phrases really mean? They may or may not be genuine. Even when they are they often (not always) represent disengagement. Spoken to make the speaker feel better. But the tranquilizing effect they have on the speaker is usually not at all transmitted to the hearer.

Because hope isn’t a strategy. Doing something to help is engagement. Heck, just being legitimately engaged is something, even if you can’t actually do much to help.

The speaker may actually care about the hearer (or maybe not). Nevertheless these words are code for, “I’m not going to do anything tangible to help, so you’re on your own, but good luck.” In fairness this is usually because the speaker perceives there isn’t actually anything that can be done. It’s forgivable, even if they are wrong. But sometimes the speaker is choosing to disengage. She doesn’t want to be burdened by it. These words alleviate that bourdon in a manner that’s polite and allows the speaker to feel better about it.

It’s that simple. So we may as well call it what it is: a blow off. The antithesis of loyalty.

Some close cousins to the above phrases:

“I hope everything turns out okay.”

“I hope to be there.”


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