This is a continuation of the Foolsletter from Thursday.
Expectations kill experience
Our expectations for ourselves, others and the outcome of our efforts get in the way of dealing with what is. Now that children don’t come with purpose or utility, they come with expectations. In a lot of cases parents want to make sure they raise their children to a point where they have a level of independence. That seems to be the baseline for parenting: Raise them well enough to be able to pay for themselves.
Or in the case of the meritocrat, raise them well and help them compete and succeed such that they have a better life than you - or at least don’t fall down a rung on the social and economic ladder.
This makes children measure of a parents ability to raise a child. Frequently success in parenting becomes an overall statement of value. Kids turned out well? Good job. Good parent. They are struggling? Bad job. Bad parent. Children in this case are in process. Their purpose? To become a healthy adult.
Other forces at work
The educational industrial complex spits out products on a time line. We are organized not on how we grow, but on the date stamp we received when we came out. Friction in the system is not tolerated. Incomplete pieces are moved on from stage to stage. Eventually their materials are processed and ready to go. From the age of 5, we become conditioned to perform for the standards set to serve industry. In addition to that, we are also, through peer pressure, conditioned to serve society as consumers. Buy the right brand. Have the correct lunch. Judgement and status games abound!
Life beyond utility
Who is your life for?
And how does that show up?
Your life has a utility that has not been decided on by you. At the same time, your life is yours to do with as you wish. That creates a tension that has been there before you were born. There can be a tension between what you want to do with your life and the expectations you were born into.
This tension between familial and societal expectations of service and compliance can be at odds with what our sense of agency and effectiveness in the world.
Our whole lives, systems have been working to teach us to sit and stand and do as we’re told. The tall poppy gets hammered down. Don’t fly too close to the sun. You get it.
Compliance and service have been easily ingrained. It feels good to please others. It feels good to know how to do things well. My dog Rodney? He seems so proud, so happy when he sets the direction, that we are walking. When he knows where he’s going and gets it right he puffs up with pleasure. When we say, “Good boy,” he salivates and expects a treat.
Funny enough? When I hear the equivalent to those words? I behave the same way.
So. We get good at getting it right. We love to find the right answer. Pleasing other people and solving a problem? Ahhhhh, dopamine hit registered! Lots of great feelings come from being loved. It’s a pretty basic need according to the hierarchy.
Being loved and accepted? That’s pretty huge in terms of having a nervous system that’s not fritzing out as well. It’s pretty important in a lot of ways to be other serving and interdependent. These ways can be super helpful to us.
There are times that they are not helpful.
There are time that doing things that used to seem right, or appear correct or are required, might just have a high cost. There are times when what was considered right doesn’t work any more. And, if you’ve been doing all of the things trying to get it right and you’re still struggling, it might be time to try something new.
This book, The Book of Wrong Answers assumes every relationship is not built on a foundation of truth. Rather, our interactions are shiftier than that. Everything can be a negotiation. Given that we’re negotiating with systems that insist on compliance, This book is an invitation to engage playfully in creative non compliance.
We do so to playfully disrupt the oral tradition of parenting and the calculated control of the educational industrial complex.
Remarkably Foolish Playlist of the Week
Remarkably Foolish Video of the Week
This is the second video I’m sharing of Dylan Graves. Dylan is a new dad who loves sharing joy. His Weird Waves series is a fave of mine. In this he travels to Nigeria to check out a really special surf scene.
This video? It’s his best.
One Derful Thing
Did you watch the video yet?
Notice the stoke
When you’re out and about in the world?
Keep your eyes open for someone doing something well.
When you see this?
Shout like the kids did in the video.
Your quiet lawyer neighbour just completed the finishing touches on his lawn?
Saw someone take out the garbage?
Your partner just farted loudly?
Notice how good it feels to say Wooooo!
It might be difficult to show shameless, boundless enthusiasm.
I remember being younger and a couple of people much cooler than me would complain about the Friday night crowds of ‘Woopers’
That may have been Ivy and Lucy and Michael. Either way their disdain was palpable. Unbridled drunken enthusiasm?
The educational industrial complex at work. It taught the cool kids to show disdain for those poor woopers. It taught the cool kids it was cool to criticize and like the right things.
We’ve learned to be ashamed of self expression.
We’ve developed a set of Neo Victorian manners the globe over.
They - the people in charge - have turned us against each other. We get further divided and classed and categorized.
We get taught to police each other. Self expression, taking up space, joy?
Problematic to someone somewhere for some stupid reason.
Find a time today to shout “Wooooo!”