the circular runner

buddhist, bad listener or something else?

In parenting, Uncategorized on September 5, 2012 at 5:55 am

 

Have you ever felt like crapper and told someone only to have that person pull some Yoda-Yoga-wisdom out of their butts and try to smear your face in it?  Graphic image, I know.  I’m probably sensitive to this kind of thing, more than I should be, because my mom is one of those people.  She means well.  But when I was a kid, and I had one of those teen-age tragedies: I sucked at the game, a cute girl ignored me–basically, when I had a true teenage dilemma on my hands–my mom would try and talk it out. For her, talking it out meant telling me that there were starving kids in Africa, so in the grander scheme, I needed to change my way of thinking.  She was pulling that Buddhist thing that suffering is caused by desire, and that the answer was to do away with the desire.

Wise words.  Shitty response.

Recently, I was scolded in this way after writing a guest blog post about my worries that my boy will not have all the things I’d like him to have.  I’m not talking bling-bling, btw; a humble house (rented not bought) with  a small yard, a dog if he likes.  This may not sound like a lot, but I live in San Francisco, and these humble wants are not so humble when you’re running up against the Facebook gaggle of new millionaires.  It’s not just the the things, though.  Part of my blog post was getting at the fact that I’ve never lived in a place that made me so conscious of what I do not have, and that I don’t think beautiful places like SF should only be for wealthy people.  There should be a place for a middle-income teacher/writer like me.

The person commenting pointed out that I shouldn’t worry about these things, that I should teach my boy to value real things, not status-symbols.  Fair enough, but I am left wondering a couple things and I want to share them here.  1.  when you’re ranting (even by blog) should you not have the right to be ridiculous, which means that you might not be in the mood to hear wisdom.

My sense of upset with this commenter runs deeper though.  I can’t say this is true for everyone, but now that I’m a parent, I am reminded of things I’ve put away in boxes in the dusty attic that is my brain: a love for Dr. Seuss books and Halloween, just to name two.  But along with these positive things, there are negative feelings that have come up as well, and some of those feelings are engendered by my family’s financial station when I was a kid, which in turn were partly brought about by my parent’s race and the discrimination they suffered through.

Fears are complicated.  My folks managed to succeed through hard work, but they suffered and it didn’t come easy nor early, which is why when I was coming up, we were pretty poor and I felt some shame for that, which if possible, I’d like to spare my boy.  Am I stupid? Maybe.  Is it unwise to get caught up in feelings of jealousy and disappointment? These are my issues.  But I think that people who are quick to dispense the wisdom, like this commenter, have their own.

To me, it’s facile to tell someone who is struggling that they should not want so much.  There’s no way for me to know this, but I suspect this person might be one of those people who have chosen a simple life, but it’s different when simple is a choice and not thrust upon you by the fact that you can’t afford complexity.  Hey, even the Buddha chose his life of poverty.  Let’s not forget, he was born into affluence.

SO, what to do?  Do I write this person?  Do I just leave it alone?  Comments are good.  Disagreements are welcome.  But is it cool to debate with a reader?  What say you guys?

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  1. Well, I absolutely think it’s ok to debate with a reader. We post comments of free will and the writer has free-will to reply. With respect by both parties, of course. I’ve had people disagree with me and that’s good because it may show me another way of looking at things…On a side note, the town I live in is made up of haves and have nots.. no middle ground. That was a big deciding factor on me moving to New Orleans. NOLA is a great blend of everything and all the people band together .. I love SF, but the dividing lines are too visible for me…

  2. The reader and his/her response are unimportant. What they made you think is worth examining, though. I think you did that here. No need to engage any further.

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