Debugging Yourself

Amidst the incredible amount of things I need to accomplish today (I leave tomorrow for SLC, then Ireland a few days later), my thoughts this morning are so strong that I must write them down.
Last night was my goodbye party at TarBoush — what a wonderful evening! There was so much love in that room; so much joy; so much food! Yum…
At one point those of us at my end of the table were discussing people’s annoying habits. I’m talking about those that your nearest-and-dearest do, those things like punching you on the shoulder every time he answers (as seen on Jerry Seinfeld), or hugging you every time she sees you (as seen by all those who know ME!). We all agreed it might just be best to say, “Hey, that bugs me. I love you, but that bugs me. Could you please not do it any more?”
Later that evening, I was talking to Katrisa and she mentioned a concept called ‘radical honesty,’ and the dramatic reduction in the friendships of the people who practice it. We chuckled over that, but also agreed that there might be such a thing as too much honesty, after all.
Which leads me to ponder the meaning of ‘honesty,’ and if there is only one version of it. Take, for example, my hugging everything in sight. If you, kindly and lovingly, tell me that it bugs the heck out of you, I nonetheless will think, “Oh no! Does everyone hate that about me?” I’ll think back over the years of random hugs (although, in fairness, I do ask people now — but if they gave me a ‘yes’ once, I’ve taken it as a blanket ‘yes’ forever!) and I might well feel embarrassed. Every time I meet the ‘honest’ person, of course, I’ll pull back; I’ll not hug. Not only that, but also when I meet almost anyone, I won’t hug. I’ll hold back. Guaranteed. That’s the way I am.
Now, what if my hugging is dear to someone else? What if it’s the thing they like best about me? That’s their honest reaction, just as the non-hugger’s is to hate it. What if the grabbing of a wrist, or the punching of a shoulder, is dear to others? Can we be absolutely sure that the habit is hated by every single person?
In addition, the things that bug us about someone are those we may miss most when they’re gone, as in ‘dead and gone.’ We’ll see a stranger make the same face, or say the same weird thing, and we’ll find ourselves welling up with tears. I know it can happen, as it’s happened to me.
So perhaps it would be better to find out why a particular habit bothers us. Find out the root cause of that annoyance; sort out the Why of it; debug ourselves. Otherwise, we run the risk of damming another person’s natural flow. We put ourselves in the position of a God, who hands down judgments on behavior and knows all. Are other people’s habits our business? Can we absolutely KNOW that what they’re doing is not beloved by someone else? Is it really our business at all to tell people how to act, no matter how lovingly?
One woman’s screechy faucet is another’s ‘ohm’; one woman’s cheerful, out-of-tune singing is another man’s song of love.
Debug thyself. Go forth and be happy. And expect a hug when you see me.

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