As I continue to work on things away from this blog (which is a collection of Free-Time/Casual Online Writing, Remarks, And Notes By ME Whelan) and continue to figure out what goes and what stays of my existing online-writing, the de-emphasizing of one or another continues as well....

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Someone Else's Shoes

When I went to view someone else's FB page awhile ago there was a remark about people often not knowing what it's like to "walk in someone else's shoes". When it became clear to me that my own remark was going to take up more space than I thought would be appropriate on someone else's page, I figured I'd post my thoughts on my own page instead.

The thing about other people's shoes is often a) that they don't fit at all, b) that if someone else tries they hurt so badly the person can't even stand, let alone, walk in them, and c) that the person cannot truly understand what it's like until/unless s/he has the "opportunity" to at least try walking in those "other-people's-shoes" long enough to see how well they do in them.

Most of us, I think, walk in the shoes that fit us and fit anyone else who may wear our size. If we walk in them long enough we wear them out in a way that they eventually only fit us. We may buy new shoes and start again, or we may find that what works best for us at any given time (and for one reason or another) is to dig out those same old shoes that have come to fit us so well; because that's what works best for us at that "given time" (or for that "one reason or another").

Maybe our own shoes aren't ideal, and maybe they aren't even as comfortable as shoes ought to be. But, when we're tempted to think too much about how imperfect our "shoes" may be we may soon start to think about the person who has no shoes (and we all know that saying about, "....because I had no shoes until I met a man who....").

As this post started to take a turn toward "the religious" (with the "man who has no shoes" thing), and it also took a turn far too close to the other part of that "saying" (which meant it would cut far too personally for me and some people close in my life that while, on the one hand, it would have made a point about my own perspective on some things related to that FB post/discussion; it would also have taken this post down a road that I didn't want it to go).

So why even start this post at all, or at least why even take it in the direction of metaphorical shoes?    a) because it can seem as if far too many people these days (or maybe any days, for that matter; although I do think our more complex/"advanced" society has, in many ways, encouraged more skewed perspective) can be confused about "proper"/"appropriate" perspective; and b) it was that FB reference to someone else's shoes that got me thinking about them at all.

In any case, I started this post a few days ago but abruptly ended it when I noticed the direction it had started to take and was pretty much too tired to make my points with what I'd written AND write enough to take the post up and away from either the "religious slant" or "too-personal slant".   I put it on "save" and kind of thought I wouldn't even bother posting it (ever); but for all the stuff I have in my computer, with the fact that I'm not all that motivated to write too many of my "non-writing"/"notebook" posts, and the fact that I'd rather write about something/someone other than myself and/or my day-to-day "notes" (potentially useful for future writing as some of them may be); I'm not one to want to waste a mostly written post when I haven't written much in recent times.

So, the real points that I want to make about the metaphorical shoes  are as follows:

1)  There are some shoes that only fit people who wear that size shoe and/or only fit, say, men or women.

2)  Assuming the size (etc.) is correct, there are some shoes that are made or styled poorly and are going to hurt anyone who either tries them on, or else wears them for too long.

3)  Then, considering the above two points, there are those "shoes" that are  "someone else's"; and while they may comfortably or uncomfortably serve the purpose of that someone-else with regard to his aim to walk or run to, or from, whatever it is he's walking/running toward or away from; it can be truly crippling and shockingly painful for the person who tries walking in someone else's shoes because when it comes to metaphorical shoes people can become acutely uncomfortable when they discover that something that fueled their ego and/or sense of sureness/security (or even sense of superiority in one or more ways) changed or disappeared once they actually experienced the discomfort of that "someone-else's" shoes.

The problem with metaphorical shoes is pretty much that walking in them so often means nothing more than staying in one's own shoes and imagining walking in someone else's.  Far too often, that's just not good enough.

Metaphors are metaphors.  Reality it reality.    In reality, shoes are shoes.

The real point I'm trying to make here is that we shouldn't have to walk in someone else's shoes or even try to imagine what it must be like for him (or us) to walk in those shoes.  Imagining some things may serve a purpose, but when dealing with reality and metaphorical shoes imagining (even when a dose of compassion and/or attempted empathy)can be out-and-out destructive, even dangerous.

Asking someone else what it's like to be in his shoes and listening to him is good; but, really, maybe the more important thing is to just recognize that each and every person has his own pair of metaphorical shoes and most of the time wears them and walks in them as best he can.

I don't know....    It sure seems to me that some of the biggest problems we can have in life get their start not because someone else hasn't walked in our shoes, but because far too many people don't realize that other people  actually do, in fact, have their own shoes.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Of Perfect Grammar All The Time

The other day I ran into a Facebook post/link that was going around, and it was - like - 10 (maybe) common mistakes people make when pronouncing some words.  I read it and cleared myself of any wrong-doing in the grammar department, at least when perfect grammar matters.  Grammar- rules is one my strong areas, so when perfect grammar matters I'll make it a point to make the grammar correct.

There are some "more elegant" grammar rules about which I'm not always entirely certain (particularly when it's a situation that's a little more complicated or "iffy".  When the grammar needs to be perfect, however, I'll either look up how to handle something like "advanced"  punctuation or else re-word the thing and avoid the matter completely.  There are many situations in which - really - no "advanced" punctuation or any other kind of grammar should be a factor in the first place.

With the stuff I write online for my own purposes I don't even aim for perfect grammar a good part of the time, but for the person with decent grammar skills it's not all that difficult to come up with good-enough grammar and still end up with something acceptable (or at least acceptable enough for the purpose).

The Facebook book wasn't about grammar, however.  It was about pronunciation of certain words, and as it happened none of them was a word that I don't pronounce correctly.  Of course, I have some words that I may not pronounce correctly.  Sometimes that's regional.  Sometimes it's habit.   I don't think there are many, for the most part, and I kind of know which words they are.

Anyway (that was one of the words in the FB thing, which point out that "anyways" is incorrect), the post got me thinking about words, playing with words, using words, etc., and I thought about one of my personal favorites, "a-whole-nother".   No, I don't mean that's one of those things that other people say wrong (and it therefore irks me, or else has caused me to put it on a "pet-peeves" list).  I mean I actually like "a-whole-nother; and while I certainly wouldn't use it when perfect grammar/word use is important I have no intention of ever trying to overcome my tendency to use it if/when it works well for me.

When one is sure of herself with something like grammar (or any number of other things) one is confident enough not to take some things all that seriously.  Then, too, when one is confident enough with some things one is often also confident enough to know how to sort out what may be worth valuing a little more than, maybe, others think it should be valued.

When I as in my teens my girlfriend and I would have (what I thought were) all the usual conversations friends have about pretty much "all of life", from the big stuff to the silly stuff.  I think with the lighter/sillier stuff we were less likely to do this, but somewhere along the way we discovered how frequently we seemed to say, "a-whole-nother" in our youthfully exuberant "heavier" conversations about things like the meaning of life, philosophy,  or even just what we wanted for our own lives and futures.

I don't recall the conversation that involved the first awareness and laughing about we both used "a-whole-nother"  as often as we did; but after the first couple of times we laughed about it (and how wrong it really was) we kind of agreed to agree that we knew it sounded "stupid" but couldn't seem to stop using it but had no intention of trying to overcome it, at least not when the conversation was between just the two of us.

I guess, even though we didn't say it, we both just kind of knew that the conversations in which "a-whole-nother" tended to crop up so often were more important than grammar between friends.

So, after the first couple of times of laughing and or talking about "a-whole-nother" we would  just kind of acknowledge that it cropped up when it did by using some facial expression or hand gesture or head movement (whatever worked at the time) and keep talking.  We didn't have time to laugh or talk about "a-whole-nother" every time our inability to overcome it became, yet again, evident.

When I started writing online on a casual basis and wanted to write in a less formal way and in a way that I hoped would come across as if anyone reading would know that I was trying to write more "as friend" than "as writer" , it would occasionally yet again become clear to me that in all the years since I first became aware of the "a-whole-nother" problem I still had not overcome my apparent attachment to to it.

The good thing about writing on a casual basis and/or on one's own terms is that one can take some liberties with grammar if/when such liberties are used judiciously.  So, while there certainly were times when I'd correct the "a-whole-nother" in my head and instead use a proper "another while", there came a time when I decided not to even try to overcome the "a-whole-nother" thing.  What is really needed, I thought, was simply to punctuated as properly as something like that could be.

As I said, when one is sure of himself with words and grammar one sometimes takes liberties with the words and language one sees as his/her friend.  Friends and communicating and conversation aren't most often about perfection, but about relating and understanding and sometimes just enjoying.

Of course, I could have easily gotten rid of the "a-whole-nother" thing in writing because if I hadn't made the conscious decision to punctuate it it would have gone so against my usual perfectionist tendencies that the only course of action would have been to correct it

One reason I decided to keep alive "a-whole-nother" was just that I thought it was funny.   :)  Another reason was, however, that (particularly in this day and age in which we live and in which there's a certain "dime-a-dozen-ness" (there I go again with the liberties...) to things that are perfect; while at the same time there's certainly a "dime-a-dozen-ness" to things that are not.

I guess what I thought was worth preserving was the unspoken, un-typed, and even un-laughed-about point that sometimes there's more to be learned about what matters from a carefully executed "grammar atrocity" than there is from all the strived-for perfection in the world.

My friend and I had our own phrase for someone/something we considered to be "neither here nor there" - basically, someone/something we viewed as unremarkable, neutral, not really worth noting, etc.  That phrase was (like a) "loaf of bread".  That, however, is a-whole-nother subject and a-whole-nother thing and most likely not one for a-whole-nother time.