Saturday, July 21, 2007

In this post, nothing about Harry Potter

I would like to claim that this picture is relevant to the post, but i just like the patterns.

I read the book Siddhartha when i was in high school, going through an emo (Em's word) phase. The take-away from the book for me was that wisdom cannot be passed on, that each of us has to learn certain things for ourselves. That can't be true, i thought at the time, how silly! Of course i never listened to my mother. What did she know?

In her on-line group, Em has always been the Saver and the Peacemaker. I have listened to her stories and made a few comments to the effect that you can't save other people, they have to save themselves, you can help, but only when they are ready. Certain of these young girls seem to not really want to be saved, they want drama, they want some grand emotions to keep them occupied. (My interpretation.) But Em kept at it, sometimes crying when they would do some new foolish or destructive thing. I had to admire her compassion, while worrying about her taking care of her own self.

Em spent $50 once sending some flowers to one girl who was always sick, but would never eat or sleep or take care of herself. The $50 was about all Em had in the world, and this is how she chose to spend it. So instead of rolling my eyes, like i really wanted to, i helped her order and send the flowers. The girl in question never acknowledged the flowers. Em was philosopical about it but i was (in typical protective mommy mode) annoyed.

But mostly i just listened, and asked a few questions, and told Em that if so-and-so was really threatening suicide then Em had no choice but to contact the parents. It has never come to that, thank goodness, but damn has it been hard to not become disgusted and tell her to forget these drama queens and find some real friends.

Had i done that though, Em would have stopped telling me about it.

Recently, she has started telling me that she has had to stop trying to corral these young women into taking care of themselves. It was too hard on her and it never did any good. She is letting them drift on in the world without her.

I guess Herman Hesse was right.


Mrs. Chili said...

I'm not entirely sure I believe that one CAN'T learn something from someone else - that ALL knowledge has to be first-person. I think that a lot of it has to do with how ready one is to receive a second-hand message. I know (or, at least, I THINK I know) that I learn A LOT from watching how other people deal with certain situations. I don't want to have to go through the experiences these people are having to come away with the lessons they're learning, and I think that, in situations where I'm advanced enough (spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, whatever) to recognize the mechanics behind what's happening, I'm able to come away with messages and lessons that haven't required my personal participation.

Does that make ANY sense?

Princess in Galoshes said...

We have something in common. I carried my copy of Siddhartha around with me in high school for almost an entire year.

TTQ said...

"Had I done that though, Em would have stopped telling me about it."

That says it all. I have a friend who recently took a cruise with her family, her son, who has heard all about alcoholism from her and their family crawled into her bed and confessed that he had drank some on the cruise even with the knowledge that he may not be in the ranks of a safe drinker. My admiration for her just swelled my heart, that her son could own up to his mistake and confess to her. She made that child and she raised that child and she has done a fine job. And it sounds like you have too.

meno said...

mrs.chili, of course one can learn many many things from other people. I believe he was talking about the learning of certain things that must be done by yourself. I've taken it as more of a "state your case and then shut the hell up" sort of warning. Let the person think about it and figure it out themselves.

princess, we were so deep!

ttq, wow, that was brave. How many kids would have dared to speak up like that? I know i wouldn't have.

Anonymous said...

I can't even find words. *s* Well done on your behalf. I could only wish more people had your...hell, there's no other word for it: level-headed wisdom.

I have a photo somewhere that I took at the Oregon coast of an orange starfish, covered in tiny white bumps that looked like sugar crystals. There are patterns and shapes and ideas in nature that draw the eye ready to see, and for that I'm profoundly grateful.

Lynnea said...

I think the key to the learning things from other people still lies in the truth of it having to be on their own in that, the person who learns still has to choose to learn. They can learn from others or by making their own mistakes but the choosing in either situation comes from themselves.

You did great and Em is such a compassionate kid. What great qualities to have even if it forces her to learn that she can't save everybody, at least her heart beats pure.

Special K ~Toni said...

What is that a picture of?

You and the mister have done such a wonderful job with Em! Not only is she brilliant, she truly cares for others! Not enough people like that now days!

SUEB0B said...

I can't wait to meet you, Meno.

Anonymous said...

I went through a Hesse phase, but much later in life. I guess I had an emo summer that year. Did you read Narcissus and Goldmund?

Anyway, while I consider myself a sympathetic person I don't know that I'd say I'm compassionate. I respect people who are, because if intelligent and disciplined, these are the people that make the world a better place. Which wasn't your point. But still.

jaded said...

The fungi that grows here isn't nearly that thought provoking or attractive.

Maybe, with you guidance, Em will grasp this lesson sooner rather than later. I think it's easier's so difficult to let things go later. 5

Sienna said...

Sweet Em, with the heart of gold, may she stay on top of her *to care for* list...always and forever.

The getting of wisdom ain't easy is it Meno.


Marshamlow said...

Pretty sure this lesson is the theme of the last HP book, that an no one is perfect. Ha, ha you actual did write about HP. Haven't slept in days, still reading...daughter finished.

Anonymous said...

I too have known many women addicted to drama and for too long, like Em, I was addicted to their drama. I'm getting a lot more done without their drama and I hope Em is too! She sounds like such a good egg. The chicken that laid her must be swell.

Girlplustwo said...

Em is the oldest teenage soul i have ever heard of. this compassion of hers is inspiring, friend. and the balance you offer will only support her choosing how to use that gift.

and ps. thanks for NOT writing about that potter dude.

Biscotto said...

Of course the picture is relevant. Give me a minute here, and I'll tell you why.

Right, so it's obvious. Em is the tree. The silly girls are the parasitic fungus that clings on the tree. They have a pretty ruffled edge, but they are spongy and weak and they cluster in groups rather than strike out on their own. Em is growing towards the sun and will one day assume her rightful place in the canopy of man. The fungus may cause an itch or two, but won't do her real harm as long as she has good posture.

It's the perfect picture. You must have sensed this subliminally. What good instincts you have.0/.

Biscotto said...

That wasn't an emoticon. It was Rusty standing on the keyboard. He is looking for love in all the wrong places.

meno said...

irrelephant, i love to take pictures of the patterns in the world. Loved your starfish picture.

maggie, well put. You have to be ready for the lesson. Em really does have a big heart. I just worry that it's too big, if that is even possible. It will get broken no matter what i do. And in that lies a lesson that i cannot teach.

toni, it's some fungus on a dead tree trunk. Thank you for your kind words.

suebob, me too! I mean meet you, not me. :)

mignon, it's been so damn long that i don't remember if i read those other books. I think my RAM is full. Em is getting a little better at seeing the role that people often play in their own misfortunes.

patches, it's really a life-long lesson. You might need to take a picture of some of your fungus to convince me that it's not so pretty. 10

pam, what a great wish, to have her stay on top of her own list. Nice.

marsha, i am reading it too, but slowly, as JK really is (in my opinion) a mediocre writer. Great plot though.

holly? holly is that you? It's nice to hear from you! Buk-buk-buk-bukKAW. That's my chicken call. What you been doin'?

jen, just to balance things in your mind, she can also be a selfish little twit, you know, a regular teenager. But i can be one too! :)

biscotto, ah, but the fungus can bring the tree down if it's allowed to continue. Nice job on the analogy. And say hi back to Rusty. I have 27 pounds of cats attempting to crawl onto my lap right now. I need a bigger lap.

Liv said...

Em sounds like she's really coming around the curve. Maybe we have to see first hand that there's nothing we can really do in order to help us begin to understand where to reach out, and where to simply take the position of the bystander.

*thanks for no HP.

jaded said...


Anonymous said...

Biscotto, that was a cool line. "the canopy of man" I'm going to think about that for a while.

urban-urchin said...

The flowers- what a sweet girl. Mine has done something similar and I am ashamed to admit that I do not like the child she was so generous toward, nor does it make me happy that this child or her family (since they're young) didn't have the decency to say thank you. I didn't want her to do it and while not saying no, I asked 'are you sure?' more than I should have.

Em is wise beyond her years.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Babe. I've been very, very busy. Dozens of articles and about 70 school performances this past year and working on coming books.

All the day, I meet people who assert, "I'd love to be a writer."

And I caution them, "Watch your wishes. They'll cold cock you upside the head."

But I see that your prose is tight as ever and you're as welcoming as ever.

Schmoopie said...

Em is so kind. That she chose to use her money to make brighten someone's day, is so thoughtful and caring.

I work with a few women who are my age (and a few older) who are addicted to drama. I feel it is a cry for attention and the ultimate in selfishness. They create chaos to the detriment of their children and other relationships. I guess when they were Em's age they were like the girls she's encountered. Good for her for letting them go. She has so much to give and there are people worthy of her kindness elsewhere.

meno said...

liv, i imagine that she will come and go with this. Getting caught up in the drama and then having to extract herself later, but at least she's thinking about it.

patches, inflation is a real problem!

mignon, she is a compelling writer.

u-u, i don't know this other girl either, but i may have thrown out a few "are you sure"s too. Along with a "Gosh, that's a lot of money."

holly, but being a writer is easy! Right? (ha ha ha ha haha ha) I am keeping my eye out for your novel. Maybe i'll even make you sign it for me. 'Cept i don't have any way to contact you. So keep me informed, if you can. I donated your pumpkin book to the local hospital after i read it.

schmoopie, i worked with some of these women too. I got very tired of the "Life has dealt me a cruel blow, AGAIN!" thing. I wanted to point out that perhaps they might have made different choices if they didn't want to end up a single mother to 4 kids by 3 different men. But i'm mean like that.

Dick said...

I don't think that you can pass wisdom on but you can pass on knowledge learned from experience. But only to those who are willing to listen. And then act on that knowledge.

Maddy said...

Newbie - well for my money, I think you did a great job to instill those values in her, even if there is a great deal of heart ache associated with it for both of you.
Best wishes

Lynn said...

Sounds like Em is learning...and kudos to you for letting her in her own time.

Anonymous said...

meno, hun, you know my name. Just Google me and you'll find my email address. And write! It'd be fun to have you as a penpal. xoxo

karmic said...

You and Mr. Meno, have raised a fine young woman.

Mother of Invention said...

Perfect case in point. The wise old sages of the world can't ever really impart or transfer their knowledge to us.

meno said...

hi dick! I still have trouble acting on the wisdom that i know.

mcewen, welcome newbie! (The word newbie makes me smile.) I have to say that the desire to save people comes more from her father. I am more practical, but i appreciate her tender heart.

lynn, i have tried force feeding her things, but she doesn't usually swallow. :)

holly, well duh! Googling people just doesn't occur to me.

sanjay, thank you. We like her.

moi, some things just have to be learned by each person. How annoying!

Anonymous said...

That daughter of yours is scarily wise, you know?

QT said...

Oh, it is hard to get unaddicted to the drama. I have been on both sides. My mom always told me all my friends were for shit, and she was right.

Easy for me to say 20 years later.

thailandchani said...

I like the pattern in the picture, too.

And I can actually match it to the post but my mind works in spurious ways sometimes. :)

We all learn from each other.



Anonymous said...

It's a crazy day when that realization hits you between the eyes. Good for her for moving on and good for you for keeping opinion to yourself. That will be my test as daughter and son get older. I'll be seeking your wisdom. Hopefully I'll listen.

Anonymous said...

Em has her head srewed on right.

And you are a very, very wise Mom.

meno said...

platypus, she can be, and then in the next moment she is pitching a fit about the terrible injustice of having to empty the dishwasher.

qt, it's so annoying to have your mother be right. As a girl i would defend my friends against all logic.

chani, i like your spurious mind.

my pool, damn it's hard to keep quiet at times, but i know from my own experiences that she will learn best from a quiet word that she can think about and come to the best conclusion on her own.

ortizzle, most of the time you are right, about both of us. then there are the other times. :)

Cheesy said...

Your D's compassion is a wonderful quality but there is a point where you have to back away from toxic relationships and not let them rent space in your head. Hopefully with time she will see the ones that will hurt her soul...

crazymumma said...

Em sounds wise beyond her years. May it provide her good passage.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Wow. Em is an amazing young woman. You must be so very proud of her goodness and intelligence, which she uses so well.

They say a wise person learns from the mistakes of others. I think that is true, but note that it says "wise." Most of us believe that we can take the same set of circumstances and create a better result, until we learn that we can't.

Wisdom does not come easily, but through personal experience. We can read wise texts and understand them intellectually, but it takes living to actually assimilate wisdom.

Tink said...

The fact that she was wanting to be a savior and not one of those drama queens says A LOT. You got a good kid. But then again, you sound like a good Mom.

Susanne said...

Great post. And I still haven't given up the hope that one can learn from others. Of course there is a certain kind of understanding that only comes with experience but I still think that one doesn't have to be hit by a truck to know that cars might be dangerous.

Anonymous said...

mama always told me the worst thing was to feel too sorry for a person. it gets a person in trouble, trying to save them from something or other. when I look back at my most troubled relationships, both friends and lovers, I see what she means. there is nothing wrong with empathy, but it can go too far. unfortunately, that's a hard lesson to learn, and one that has to be learned personally. worse, sometimes it's hard to find the line between empathy and too far...