And So It Ends
It was a fun event last year–the annual Tea. My first, but undoubtedly not my last, I thought at the time. But I didn’t expect The Break. Didn’t see it coming, never would have predicted it would come–not while I lived here on this island Paradise.
Even Paradise has its problems. Some are major, some are small; some are ignorable, others are blatant and hard to block from view. Some come from my own worldview; others are imposed on me. Some are taken personally, though not too much so; others are just general nuisances. But it happens to each of us at one time or another. Either an established institution that we thought would last forever falls to time or circumstance, or we find a chink in the foundation that makes us wonder why we are part of it, even though the damage we see is minute. Somehow, to us it becomes a major stress fracture that overcomes all the beauty and goodness of the structure and focuses our minds on that single flaw. It’s not even that the flaw is the only one, or even the worst of the bunch. It simply is something that feels like coarse sandpaper heavily applied to a bare wrist; or an amplified screech of sharpened fingernails applied across an old slate blackboard that hurts the ears.
Recently, I talked about an error I had made–one that apparently percussed on several members of a group, not just on me. I tried to rectify the problem, but was clearly too late. My fault. I should have been more careful; I should have taken the time to do what I have told countless students and adult workshop participants to do: read carefully, and don’t take action on something assumed because a piece of writing was carelessly read and therefore misunderstood. But the response of the institution was as unexpected as it was unequivocal and, to me, horrifying. Horrifying because, in my perception, it was exclusionary and therefore discriminatory.
Above all else, exclusion and discrimination are abhorrent to me. OK. Maybe lying to me is worse, but the whole idea of judgement comes into play here. Just as I question, “Who am I to judge?” so I also question “Who are They to judge?” Especially since the They is only a small part of the whole of this particular unit. If the decision was put to a membership (a lower-case they) vote, and observation of similar decision-making is used to extrapolate, then they were barely listening as they practiced breaking up for the evening. It’s a time when no one is paying any attention to the speaker–they are saying their good-byes, or chatting with someone who came in late, or helping to clean up, or just busy organizing their own belongings. The mind of the they is no longer open for further discussion. Even those who hear are only half listening, and are not necessarily sure of the topic.
Thus it came to be that, although the institution remains, I no longer live there. A shame, really. I love this tiny institution. I love the charitable work of this institution. I am very fond of many of the they as well as most of the They. I created The Break. I will miss the best purely social gathering of the group, the annual Tea.
Yet, I think, I am not like them–neither the They nor the they. I am independent, and, although I am pretty much in tune with most of the cultural differences that are transcended to make up the group membership, I can’t say that I was ever one of them. I was an observer for a time. The time for observation is done. I no longer belong. My decision. My personal break. No time for tea…
Dear Dr Miller!!!!
Thanks for the follow.
Your Blog is very interesting. Congrats! on that.
All your stuff is good and I am sure it will take lot of my time in the near future.
Right now I am to divert attention, I shall be right back.
You do a fine job of story telling. As with many non-English cultures, tales are told in a less straightforward manner, going off to the side for an explanation or anecdote before returning to the main theme. The Culture I grew up with did much the same thing, and I guess you had to have lived in the culture to think this is a fine way to tell a story. Westerners have a very tight and strait forward approach to writing–and I was well into college before I mastered it. Or thought I did. It is why I am probably on my tenth or so writing course, with each improving my writing just a bit more. It is the “whole” of your story that I find very good. And I believe you “side trips” are necessary to explain your story, which is very interesting. Keep up the good work!
I love this line “Above all else, exclusion and discrimination are abhorrent to me.”
And this piece is very thought provoking and leaves me wondering and wanting to know more about the context.
Andy, the “set-up” is on my Day Twelve post. Can’t access the link from Wp on my iPad without going through Safari, which is giving me a whole set of problems right now. To summarize, the point is that this group decided that paid-up members who were “on leave” due to illness or whatnot no longer deserved to be included on the club’s mailing list or FB private page. I think this is an unreasonable exclusion, as being temporarily inactive does not mean loss of interest in what is going on with the club. Despite its wonderful charitable works, this exclusion from news really got me angry. And I knew that the policy was only newly instituted because I had carelessly responded that I would attend, before realizing that the event was meant for those members who were actively involved in this year’s fund raiser. As soon as I realized my error, I went.to FB to change my response to “decline”, only to find myself excluded from the site. I got everything straightened out with the secretary, along with an apology for my error, when the president wrote me a very condescending and pompous letter explaining that I was not the only person affected by the exclusion. I blew up for the reason above: inability is not the same as lack of interest. So I told her to keep the rest of my dues and consider them a donation, because any group that would allow its board to spontaneously make up such a rule was not one I wanted to be part of, no matter how much good they did for the community. Period. Hope that answers the question. Until I read this note from you, I had forgotten that I explained the subsequent events of the Day Twelve post in a response to a comment. Interestingly, I had received my answer after the post, but before I responded to the comment. I kind of think of the Day Fifteen(?) post as being the dirge on the death of a chapter in my life.
Thank you for sharing this with me. A very difficult and trying experience, I can see very clearly why you would be angry. Sometimes the behaviour of people can be baffling. To put it mildly…
I’m responding because I won’t be addressing this issue further, and didn’t want to leave you in the lurch, so to speak…
I really appreciate the time you took to explain to me, quite a story!
I like the unique, thought-provoking perspective on mistakes, change and moving on.
Thank you, Safar.