Family Life Personal

Note To Self(ish): Insight Is Only The Start Of It

The Best Arguments I’ve Ever Had Were The Ones I Walked Away From

Do you know, I was just thinking there that I’m not good sometimes — how original and insightful, eh? — but not just that, this is when the real damage is done.

Being not good? Being bad seems straightforward enough … you do something wrong, you may regret it soon, are sorry later … you make reparation or you don’t. That kind of thing.

But not being good is a little more complicated. Harder to spot, and harder to judge … and therefore you do it far more often than you realise … and regret and reparation are a long way off. If ever.

Being not good?

It’s like … grandstanding in the moment, thumping my metaphorical chest, as I flash out some angry insight into my wife’s unreasonable behaviour, or dish out another perspicacious but unkind and untimely insight into either of my children’s less than perfect behaviour.  

And so right in my criticisms. And so right about my right to deliver them.

I look back a moment — or ten —  later, when I’m on the calm down, and finding rational … and already I am taking myself down off the hook.

And clambering back up on to my brittle pedestal.

Not judging or evaluating, really, but excusing my behaviour.

“Oh I shouldn’t have said that, but I was annoyed, and they were being disrespectful and …  and that tone! … Ning, nang, nung …

‘Sure it wasn’t that bad’ …

And before I know it, it nearly has nothing to do with me at all … the fella spouting off in his righteous anger wasn’t really me, just the angry version of me.

The real me is not a bad chap …

Like that incredible scene in that amazing New Zealand movie Once Were Warriors (Check it out, as Google says, the film tells the story of the Heke family, an urban Maori family, and their problems with poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence, mostly brought on by the patriarch, Jake)

In this scene, wife-beating, hard-drinking, impossible Jake looks at his wife, who has stood up to him, and he’s there, all pleading, wounded-puppy eyes, a lost child … telling her, “I’m not a bad chap …”

Thing is, he had just stopped being a bad chap in that moment, but in so many other moments he was a bad chap. A very bad chap.

And the one he is feeling most sorry for is himself.

I’m not Jake, and I promise I have nothing on him in terms of my attitudes and behaviours …

Or so I would plead.

But, down the scale, some things are there that like any husband, partner or father I might look at, especially in those moments of conflict.

Not when I am all bonhomie and good form. Planting in the garden. Walking the dogs. Admiring my wife’s beautiful necklace. Enjoying my son’s and daughter’s endless good qualities.

But when I am not good.

It’s a hard thing to admit, but for all the slashes and hooks and expertly selected barbs I’ve delivered when I’m angry, the best arguments I’ve ever had ultimately were the ones where I clamped my jaws firmly shut, turned and walked away.

Not that it was easy to do so. No, no, no.

Kept all the bad stuff, still pummelling away, inside, and let it punch itself out, like George Foreman with Muhammad Ali in that Zaire jungle rumble all those years ago, and finally the light of illumination and proper insight began to peep through …

Ali and Foreman … The Rumble In The Jungle

I guess that’s what they mean by containment … being strong enough to be calm within the storm, to let it rage and subside, and then be first on the scene to start the clean up operation. 

A bit easier when there’s not too much collateral damage.

That’s the thing too, though, isn’t it, an insight is not a final, polished, packaged and  delivered solution, but the beginning, hopefully of something … that something being an opening up to the other person’s insight?

This is my opinion, my take on this … what is yours?

Otherwise it’s just more me, me , me … my thoughts, my reflections, my insights … 

What about yours?

And then some time, maybe, ours?

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