Saturday, January 27, 2007

"You'll Get Used To It"

Recently as I settled into my new home, the much discussed basement, I found myself using a laptop computer. My coordination is limited on a good day and those little keyboards and my adult fingers just do not play well. More time on the backspacing than the actual typing: a tricky situation as my mind forges ahead in spite of the fingers lagging behind.

A few moments ago as I walked by my friend’s office and noticed him typing away, fingers on that laptop, I confessed. I told him of my recent laptop usage (no, not the why) and my difficulty with typing on it. He simply said “You’ll get used to it”.

I equally simply pointed out that I had obtained a full size keyboard, that as the human I had adjusted my environment to suit me.

And it struck me how much that little exchange revealed. Life is of course compromises, particularly at home, with a family, wife and children. And while humans do adjust the environment to suit them – why else have thermostats and the like – equally importantly adults do learn to adjust to their environments, man’s fabled adaptability.

In some way that feels so central – where in my new life is there a reasonable taking charge of my own existence and where is it a refusal to adapt to those that I love: as has been asked in less words, when does “authentic” becomes “selfish”?


MK said...

I have often been accused of being selfish and yet I dont think I am. In fact I know I am not. But here's the thing: you have to earn my care for you and your life. I do not care for free anymore, I do not bend over backwards to please someone anymore, and I certainly dont do things I dont want to just for someone else. So maybe in a way that is selfish, but I think its only fair that I watch out for myself. I mean, who else is going to? If you are lucky enough to become part of my life, then I will put your needs at equal level as my own, but you have to earn it. I cant compromise who I am just to make someone else happy. That is unfair to me, and why would anyone want to be happy at the expense of someone else? You create your own happiness in life, and it is not dependent on any other factor than your views and thoughts. So, go ahead, be true to yourself. It may seem selfish to others, but what is truly selfish is expecting someone else to make your life their priority because youre too lazy to do it yourself.

marlan said...

Being selfish is not the same as being authentic. If you have, as I have and others here who have responded, been struggling for many years to actualize what we have felt all our lives, that's not being selfish at all.

Your keyboard metaphor applies well. You adjusted by adopting and using another one, rather than acknowledge and use the equipment you were given.

The "heckler" said...

You can be authentic and honest without being selfish. It is all in the way you execute it.

The bottom line is, as mk so eloquently states, "I can't compromise who I am just to make someone else happy"

Believe me, ultimately, NO ONE will win in THAT scenario.

Flip said...

Hi Nate,

The challenge for me was/is figuring out what authentic really means for me...who am I and what kind of person do I want to be. As I get closer to understanding that, and as I become progressively more able to be honest with myself (truly, brutally honest), it gets easier for me to see the difference between authenticity and selfishness. It does help if my description of my authentic self includes being an honest, unselfish person.

But even as it becomes easier figuring out what is authentic and what is selfish it's not always easy giving up what I want in the short-term (pleasure, relief, etc.) in order to achieve what I want in the long-term - to live an honest, authentic life.