On the connectedness of ideas

30 09 2012

There’s a theory that every person on the planet is “connected” via no more than 6 degrees of separation. i.e you know someone that knows someone that… well, you get the idea.

Ideas are the same. One idea leads to another, that in turn leads to another, and you end up pretty well at any idea you like. Tell me you’ve surfed the web and not had that demonstrated in spades. Or shovels. Or diamonds if you prefer card suits to garden implements. Or perhaps trowels if you’re only a small time surfer. See? We’re ever so good at grabbing connections out of the air and linking things. Edward de Bono wrote a whole book on it: Lateral Thinking.

Richard Dawkins had the concept of a “meme” – an idea that follows the evolutionary concepts laid down by Darwin. Good memes grow and prosper spawning better and better memes, lesser ones are driven out of the meme pool and shrivel up into the idea fossil record. Hm… I buy it in large part, but there are some really, really bad ideas out there that look pretty strong to me. But let’s leave politics and religion out of this post, shall we?

So how did I get here? Well – I was following up, reading blogs of those who have honoured me with following this quite irrelevant Quieter Elephant. In a comment to one recent posting, I read this unassuming line:

We only accept the love we feel we deserve.

It stopped my eyeballs in their metaphorical tracks, and I wasn’t sure why. Eventually I realised it was because it reminded me of another gem I’d heard in person.

We teach other people how to treat us.

Quite a powerful idea really. That we are in control of how other people behave towards us. The same is true of the earlier quote. That we are in control of how well we feel loved. Others may be gushing warm and fuzzies all over us, and we may simply be not recognising it because we don’t feel we deserve that love. Or perhaps that type of love. So I looked up the phrase (it seemed like it might have been a quote). It turns out that it is used in the book The Perks of Being a wallflower which is now a film, I believe. This was wry smile inducing because this book was suggested to me by the person who proposed the second thought – that we teach others how to treat us.

And then a song came into my head. A Mother Mother song from their new album The Sticks: Love it Dissipates. I’ve had the album on constant loop in my car since it was published a couple of weeks ago.

This song begins with the lines: “If you were a country, I’d be your flag”. Because Mother Mother are a bit quirky, the song continues a little non-standardly (I’m on a roll making up new words tonight! If Shakespeare can do it, why can’t I? Don’t answer that MM) on the imagery front, but still in the same vein: “If you were a smoke, I’d be your drag”.

By the end of the song though, we’re on “Oh baby, if you were a convict, I’d be your cell” and “If you were a housewife, I’d be your living hell”

We finish the song with the thought that “I mean what I say; When I say; Love it dissipates”, leaving us with the thought that love that was once close and mutual can become torture for at least one of the people involved.

Hm. Well, perhaps. But so can many things. Unless we value them enough to work at keeping them. I think that’s the crux – we take a lot of things we value for granted, and stop TRYING.

If we learn to value ourselves, we can more easily come to feel we deserve all the love that is offered. And that in turn can allow us to teach others to love us all the more.

There – that was a load of late-night bollocks wasn’t it? Thoughts anyone?

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5 responses

1 10 2012
sheriji

I agree the first statement is true, (about only feeling the love we think we deserve) and used to believe about the second, but have had that one disproven many times.

And I also agree that love doesn’t have to dissipate — I think it can, and agree with you that tending it (like a fragile garden) is the best (if not only) thing you can do to try to prevent it. I think that young marrieds with young children have the hardest time of it, and then, when they have time to look around again, barely even know the person they’re married to.

The words to your song remind me of the one from Juno, “All I Want is You” by Barry Louis Polisar. “If I was a flower growing wild and free, all I’d want is for you to be a sweet honeybee; if I was a tree growing tall and green all I’d want is you to shade me and be my leaves. . . . etc.”

1 10 2012
Quieter Elephant

Thanks for your thoughts sheriji. I’m interested in why you think we don’t inherently teach others how to treat us though. If we don’t comment on behaviours we don’t like, they keep happening. If we encourage the things we do like, they might instead. How many times have we moaned about the behaviour of our bosses but never actually told them?
And I love Juno.

1 10 2012
sheriji

I think some situations do not allow us to actually tell someone how we feel about how we’ve been treated. At least not without great personal risk, and sometimes maybe more of a risk than we are WILLING to take, even if, technically, we would be ABLE to.

I was actually thinking of “teaching” in terms of the actions we demonstrated and what we could reasonably expect in return. I can only control what I do, not what someone else does.

1 10 2012
Quieter Elephant

It’s true we can only control ourselves, but we can demonstrate our approval or otherwise of other’s behaviours. By quietly accepting poor behaviours, we encourage others to keep presenting them. I think that was the intent of the phrase, as I understood it.
It’s certainly true that we often are unwilling to do things that we are able to do. And we certainly each perceive risk very personally and differently.

1 10 2012
sheriji

Of course we can demonstrate our approval or otherwise of other’s behaviours, and I suppose our lack of response to a poor behaviour does its own teaching. The problems, as I see it are these: we can demonstrate a lack of acceptance of a behaviour through subtle means, which can be misinterpreted, or through clear means, which could potentially cause serious repercussions for us.

And I’m not sure I’m really referring to our perception of the risk, but maybe assigning the risk as dictated by the situation and/or predicted outcome.

It is something I’ve thought about often before, and wonder how many out there have written letters to spouses or family members or bosses saying what they really thought/felt, but didn’t send them either out of wisdom or caution (or cautious wisdom). I also often wonder how utopic the world would be if a) we all were able to say, [carefully, with kindness and tact], what we thought or felt and b) everyone felt secure in their own gifts and skills and could therefore treat everyone else with generosity and fairness. My version of heaven on earth, I suppose.

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