If you live north of the equator, yay! More daylight!
Enjoy the summer. You guys are losing daylight though.
There’s something very reassuring in watching the changing of the light.
I especially find the longer days encouraging. Each day until the next solstice feels like we’re winning.
Soon a crap day will not matter. It will be seven in the evening and I’ll be outside. There will be light and things will have a new smell. I do so love that fresh, ‘new spring smell’.
With that in mind, let’s dive back into the muck of shame.
I noticed with the story of the woodpile that I didn’t feel so ashamed in the retelling of it. I noticed a great feeling of pride. I’m proud of how I stack wood. I’m proud of how I learned it. Did it suck? At the time. Yes.
Could my dad have taught me differently? Based on what I know about him is likely not. He could have. And I don’t think anything about his life world made that probable.
These days, I’m proud of what I learned and ok with how it happened. I had to overcome adversity. That felt good. I felt bigger.
Which brings me to the next important part of shame: pride.
Pride and shame go hand in hand like tastes great / less filling.
And again, pride is relational. Pride feels expansive. I walk a bit taller, open up a bit more and generally feel a sense of calm when I experience pride. Pride comes at the end. Pride is that point where excitement and efficacy combine to allow us to experience satisfaction and have our sense of self grow three sizes that day.
Back to the woodpile story. As a child, I wasn’t proud of the wood I stacked. I knew it was crooked. I just wanted to hear that the task was done, or that the work was done well enough to move on. I hung in. I learned. Slowly.
If I were proud of what I had done, then there would be a chance for shame. Shame frequently happens when we experience and express pride and have that pride stifled.
But shame is relational. In a multiverse alternate reality version of that story, I stack the wood really poorly, express pride at what I had done, then have my father congratulate me and celebrate a really crappy woodpile. I would feel pride about a job poorly done. In this way, false pride is shame is just playing peek-a-boo. It’s coming back. Eventually, false pride faces higher standards, when we become aware of ourselves in that way, shame is inevitable.
And after a second reading of what I wrote a couple of days ago, I no longer see it as a story of shame. I was likely angry - probably a bit hurt and even more, discouraged. That’s the thing about memory, a memory is something of the past you experience through the filter of the present. It’s a distortion. My memory of feeling discouraged is a present day feeling associated with the story I’m telling myself (and you) about this memory. The feeling happens in the present. It’s brought up by storytelling.
And? It didn’t matter if I was discouraged or not, I had to get the job done. My feelings were not important. My grandmother had the same circumstances. It didn’t matter how she felt, the water needed to come from the well. The stove needed to be lit. People had to care for each other. We were each others responsibility. Our feelings didn’t matter. Work had to get done. They were rugged. They were tough.
When it comes to progress, we leave a lot of bad and brutal parts of struggle behind. There are a lot of us who live a much more gentle life. Are there lessons from these struggles that my kids need to learn? How important is tough love?
Some might see my children as lazy. I see them as constantly working, playing, engaging with the culture in order to learn, make sense of and eventually participate as an adult in the wider world. They are moving wood - I’d never let them, that’s my gig. When they want to do something, learn something or make something, they dig deep and work hard.
At the same time, there are always going to be tasks that must get done. You know the things that aren’t passions for them. Do they need to learn how to tough it out through some of the gritty stuff that’s boring? Or is Optimus Prime going to show up to do the dishes for them as part of an automated future?
As a parent, this is a difficult one for me. How is technology going to further replace grit? How does that remove them from the firmament that our food springs from? How much do I let them thrash? How much thrashing and difficulty is good for them? I struggled when I had to move the wood. I cut my fingers. I can recall at least one nasty, infected splinter in my hand. My dad pulled down my work and made me do it again. I did not experience much pride and satisfaction.
Satisfaction, true satisfaction, came from a sense of efficacy.
Pride comes from seeing ourselves or being seen when we complete something or being good at something.
I posted several times about stacking wood. One of the woodpiles I created was largely improvised, in behind my parents place.
It wasn’t the row on row woodpile my dad wanted in my childhood. I now play with wood. My dad doesn’t mind. That’s a little more daylight for both of us. Perhaps, I’ll keep a bit of the tough and add a bit more of the love to hand down to my children. That’s even more daylight. Some might say that’s evolution.
Either way, it’s progress.
But most of all?
I’m really proud of that woodpile.
Because you all know the famous saying:
An airplane would fart if it had a bum