Sunday, September 21, 2008

Live And Let ...

Not the Bond movie.

I'm actually thinking about my own bassackward (dorky pre-teen non-swearing aside, don't you think I'm funny? Just a little bit funny and heartwarming simultaneously? Ever?) .... Anyway I'm actually thinking about how I've walked around this Earth for most of my 37 years with a completely un-self-conscious, unplanned "live and let live" attitude.

I was raised a little unconventionally, we've established. But the counterculture got balanced out when my media-loathing, strict vegan father woke us up one fine Autumn morning and announced to the whole famdamily (again, tee-hee, with the almost-cussing) that he would, By God, be watching Monday Night Football and eating a burger that very day.

In my family, nothing was ever done by halvesies. We were tie-dyed-in-the-wool, raising sheep for the fiber, practicing radical reforestation (whatever that means) and eating organic waaaay before it was available at WalMart. Or, we were conservative-to-the-bone, supporting Ronald Reagan Republicanism, driving a fleet of Fords and wearing Wranglers to prove it. (I don't think my dad ever had an NRA membership, but folks we knew sure did. And do. "Charlton Heston is my President" bumper stickers and all.)

This amalgam boiled down, simmered for a few decades, and made me the tolerant, easygoing individual I am today. It's pretty hard to shock me. Not that I'm asking you to try or anything. For about a decade my very closest friend was an ordained minister. She used to say I had a pastor's face. You know, tell me you just had impure thoughts about your best friend's biker brother, and I'll nod politely, knowingly, without a shred of judgment.

That may be because I don't feel remotely qualified to judge anyone. In fact I spend way too much time trying to -- not exactly justify -- I spend too much time trying to get into the heads of random people who've wronged me or mine. I want to know what makes strangers turn right without looking left over their shoulders. I want to know why that greeter lady at WalMart looks right through every man but has a sad smile and hello for every woman who passes.

I want to understand why one particular couple lived rent-free in one of our houses for seven months and then were mad at us when we finally, painfully, had to evict them. (Um. I know they lived there rent-free because we didn't force the issue of paying rent. I'm inquisitive, not stupid. And I'm a pushover, clearly.) They were so mad that they took us to court. They accused us of causing damage to their 8-year-old son's psyche with causing them to move. They called the elders of their church and tried to have us "black balled." On a recording. And yet I still, truly, want to know how that went down from their point of view. How did that work for them? What led to their choices? Did they know when we took them out for pizza to help plan their budget (month three) how it would all turn out? Was it a calculated thing or did they just skate through that whole year like their blades were badly chipped and the ice had a momentous rough patch that caused their triple axel to end in broken contracts? And then, did they leave the rink with their heads held high?

I am a closet analyst. (It's nothing to do with your wardrobe, relax already.)

Hey, live in the city; live in the sticks. Work for a living; grow herbs for a living. Homeschool. Private school. Unschool. Stay-at-home mom. Nine-to-five mom.

What makes you tick? Does it get under your skin when others live in a radically different manner than you and yours? Or does it, for you like for me, make you rejoice that we are all so different and yet united by our humanity? Do you wonder how in the hellsinki (thought I forgot about that schtick, hunh?) someone you know and like could vote Republican, or Democrat, or (God Forbid) Green Party?

I recently ... okay, yesterday... ran across one of the FIRST EVER moments in which I lost the pastor face. There are some places the "live and let live" cannot be allowed to live. I'm still slow simmering that one. While it cooks up into an idea worth talking about, let's hear from you.


Agent K said...

It's hard to have an opinion when we are so alike, you and I.

Hmm. Slow simmer, eh? I might just have to do some of that myself.

Barb said...

I always THINK I'm so non-judgmental and live-and-let live but then it turns out that I have all these things that I just cannot understand people doing. Endangering children, for one. People who start smoking despite all the information that's out there now. Child abuse. Infidelity. These are things that really do affect my regard for people. So, there's no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks I can claim to be non-judgmental. I hate that.

Grumpy Momma said...

This was a great post.

Some things I'm live and let live....others not so much. I do wonder sometimes what possessed folks to vote for Bush the SECOND time around.....and, yeah...I'd love to get into their heads.

I've noticed that the longer I live, the less judgmental and more compassionate I seem to get...hope the trend continues.

HonuGirl said...

Amen. Indeed.

Oh so true; but whenever I get the urge to escape my non-judgmental closet... I hear my 'pastor' (aka Dad) say "Judge not lest ye be judged." AGGHHH ... ok ok don't judge me.