"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Friday, 15 March 2019

Home

From time to time it seems that there are civilians who understand us, even when they don't reference the transgender community directly. It takes a strong person to resist the drive to conform. 


Visit Emily McDowell's webpage here
‘Finding yourself’ is not really how it works.
You aren’t a ten dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket.
You are also not lost.
Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are.
‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself.
An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.

Emily McDowell

I checked out a bit of Emily McDowell's story. In her twenties, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Now, in her early 40s, she authors and decorates what she calls, "Greeting cards and gifts for the relationships we really have." Clearly she is an extraordinary person whose experience changed her life and the way she sees the world. Not satisfied with simply living her own life differently, she helps others to understand or, at least, send more understanding messages to those in life challenging situations. 

The quote above says something about the return to self that has been chronicled in this blog. I recognized what I called my façade. At first it seemed that although it wasn't something I liked about myself, I would try to maintain that façade; that was the title of this blog for some time actually - "Maintaining the Façade"

As Emily suggests, I unlearned and excavated myself. In retrospect, I can see times in my youth where I might have challenged the world. Instead, I helped the world bury that true person. 

It would be pleasant to think that the person I am now is somehow a reflection of whom I might have been without that conditioning. I am, instead, a reflection of a different sort of conditioning, self-imposed in order to be happy now. Where the façade felt wrong, who I present to the world now feels right and good. 

Along the way, I have learned so much and have found family and a partner whom I love and who love me. 

By what might be called, in a huge over-simplification, a fortunate set of circumstances, I have returned to myself. 

I am home. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

Going to the Dogs

K and I are alpha one and two to "the girls", a pack of three miniature dachshunds. As K says, they are 'love me' dogs and nothing I'm going to mention below should be taken as dislike for them; they are sweet and gentle and, yes, sometimes annoying. 

The girls teach me a lot. Most of the time, they teach patience and persistence. For example, they know if they patiently wait a while, and at the same time, stare at me, I will pick them up, give them a cuddle, and share the chair. I have sometimes had all three at once; a dog pile! 

They know the pure joy of warming themselves in a sunbeam. They know that if you need it (and do a dance worthy of Snoopy), your human will give you water and food, or, more importantly, she will open and close the door... and open and close the door (yes, it would be good to have a flap in a door, but it isn't practical here). Open and close the door....open and close the door.... open and close .... open and close ....

Dogs are sometimes highly instructive in other ways as well; in the same way that being in a big city teaches you love for the peace and quiet of the country. 

Our girls protect and defend our territory, and they have conversations with others who defend theirs. Every little noise or movement outside sets off alarm bells. They bark furiously at anyone who walks by, letting them know where the boundary is. If another dog should happen to bark, even a kilometre away, they are compelled to answer, and answer again and again, until the other dog hears them and answers them back. 

What am I learning from their hyper-vigilance? When you have a dog, you can relax and let them be vigilant. It also reminds me that for a very long time I have been a bit like them; noticing and responding too much. 

Social media is sometimes a bit like that dog barking in the next block. Perhaps I am the strange one, thinking it is wrong to be tied to this constant flow of information from "friends" that I enjoy hearing from - but also, more often, advertisers and others who try to manipulate me. No stranger to being thought strange, however, I've made a conscious choice to limit myself to one or two times a day for checking emails and such. 

No, I'm not going to become like a cow in the pasture, paying no attention to what goes on around me. My phone is fully equipped to receive and send messages, and it is somewhere nearby most of the time. I've no illusions that the world needs my full attention, however. The time is right to be a bit less like a doe in the forest, or our girls - ears twitching, ready to respond to every tiny noise. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

It's Not Always About Us

The context of a cartoon is important. 


C’mon. I hardly think we need to mention that these rights also pertain to transgender citizens when we’re writing it in a roomful of men in high heels and wigs. 
Dan Piraro is the creator of the cartoon strip BIZARRO. The panel above is a prime example of his irreverent style. In his blog he discusses the typical reactions people have expressed about this particular cartoon, including reaction from supporters of the trans community. In their comments to him they were critical “because it isn’t an accurate representation of transgender people, and that it leads people to believe that transgenders are nothing more than men who like to play dress up …

As he says: "The only point I was trying to make is that all Americans should be granted the same rights and respect as long as nobody is getting hurt. Being different always leads to scorn by the small-minded and insecure but it needn’t and shouldn’t. That’s among the things that laws and bills of rights are meant to protect."

Apropos of my previous post, it seems to me that understanding the history and context of a document, whether it be the Constitution of the USA or the New Testament is very important. Important, unless you have a vested interest in a literal interpretation - perhaps a member of the NRA or someone leading an evangelical "church". 

We need to remember that the men portrayed in that room, living in the time of Mozart, just before the French Revolution, wrote about all men being created equal while at the same time, they really meant men, not women, and by all, they meant all men who owned property. In other words, men like them were all equal. The "founding fathers" probably all owned slaves and they certainly didn't consider a slave to be anything but property. That is context. 

I can understand reacting poorly to the cartoon. After all, it is a serious topic for some of us, and the situation depicted is silly. But I have read enough BIZARRO cartoons to know that it wasn't meant in a malicious way. It was created to make you think and give you a chuckle. 

In general, we need to believe that others are doing the best they can. If I'm walking by a group of people and I hear laughter, why should I think they were laughing at me? The big reason might be that I am lacking in self-confidence. If I don't believe there is anything laughable about my appearance, then I will assume these folks are sharing a funny story. It definitely has nothing to do with me. 

Overthinking a cartoon is wrong on so many levels. Reading cartoons is about having fun (remember fun? ... not taking it personally and remembering it isn't always about you) or at the very least, seeing the humour in a situation. If you feel insulted, maybe you need to remember how to laugh at yourself. It might also help to remember what a truly bizarre world we live in.