Friday, November 6, 2015

Getting in Tune with the Songs of the Season

Someone much wiser than I once explained to me that freedom of speech doesn't entitle you to shout fire in a crowded theatre, nor does it afford you the privilege of sitting next to someone and whisper non-stop as the celluloid races through the projector gates.The danger, he said, each one of us faced was that 'sometimes the things you do speak so loudly I cannot hear what you're saying.' 

I’ve been thinking about that as the holiday print and television ads start popping up more frequently (=annoyingly) and that means the search will also accelerate for low-cost holiday gifts for mailmen and newspaper carrier, oil tank filling guy, coffee making person, pudding pop curator (is that still a thing?); a dozen or a hundred jobs that no one notices until they're not done.

The trick is to make sure to find something that doesn't like cheap and when you start the hunt early, you have a better chance. I've had this conversation with acquaintances in years past who have a very complex and complicated mental math they do to compute just how much to spend on a gift for a person whose name they more often than not don't know or for one who, if the job is done right, they rarely see. I’m not sure how then you know the person likes your gift unless you never cared about that to start with. 

And in the case of the 'sandwich guy' or the 'coffee server' (and the like), it's a person with whom you would never speak, aside from 'please' and 'thank you', but if you crossed paths in a locale such as Borneo or even Boise, you'd chatter away like magpies who'd known one another your whole lives. That concept is referred to as familiar strangers and many of us have a world populated with them and very few others. 

I've gotten better as I've aged (I'm not bragging; I set the bar pretty low) and I no longer immediately say everything I'm thinking, which I did for decades and then wondered why I always had tension-filled relationships with people. Turns out I had difficulties distinguishing between inside and outside voices, especially as I tend to hear both, and if you don't, it's your loss. Blurting is often hurting, a little tip from me to you about getting along here on the ant-farm. 

There was a time I'd ask those shopping for the knick-knack thank you gifts, 'why don't you just give the person money?' After all, it's a holiday whose primary colors seem to be red and green and since most of us are in the former why not share some of the latter? I think we give each other seconds of pleasure that are put away and forgotten or lost by the end of the holiday season because we can't stand the insulted silences if we didn't. 

It's not words, so much, that frighten us, it's the quiet between the words. 
That the words have, perhaps, sharp edges is all well and good as long as they keep coming because that way we don't have to worry there might be time to think about their meaning and the last thing many of us want to do is find ourselves alone with our thoughts. I wonder if there's life on other planets and if they have giant parabolic microphones to pick up the sounds emanating from this septic orb. I suspect if so they've long ago to turn the volume all the way down. We wouldn't mind, I fear. Or care.

"Dumbed down and numbed by time and age.
Your dreams that catch the world the cage.
The highway sets the travelers stage.
All exits look the same."
-bill kenny 

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