28 January 2007


To Thomas (likely no "Thomas" you know)

I shouldn't have laughed, but when you offered, in conversation at a bar, to instruct me in matters spiritual, after taking offense ("I'm very serious about these") to my smiling and laughing but (what I thought was) warm response to your calling yourself "a preacher and a teacher"—sorry, it made me think of "And You and I" by Yes ("The preacher trained in all to lose his name; // The teacher travels, asking to be shown the same."—it really was a compliment, but you didn't get it)—well, I just thought you were acting like a total flake. (Doesn't make it a "be" thing; might've been a moment thing—there's not enough info to tell. Well, in the bigger picture, it's all moment things, no?)

I'm muy skeptical about this enterprise of yours. I have some well-developed (for me, not by the standards of many of those past, of many of those alive now, or of many of those to come) ideas about our place in this universe, and, as I told you immediately, "I have the universe as a teacher, and I'm not looking for another." I don't necessarily share those ideas with even my closest friends, with even the patient few who read here, with even my lover. You wouldn't know that about me, but if you're going to be in the preaching/teaching business, you might give a moment's thought as to where the one you're offering your services to might be in the matter of their spiritual life. I said I was reticent to discuss it, not that I didn't have one, or that I wanted instruction in it. From you.

You're in good company. I once threw two very good friends—people I'd known for longer than five minutes—out of my trailer (this was when I was living in a trailer house) when they both claimed to "see the light"—"can't you see it Timmy?"—of Jesus Christ himself, right there in the trailer. I risked real friendships, friendships that involved actual shared experiences, more than just shared air and music in a smokey bar, over that: those friendships survived.

As someone whose trade is academic instruction, I'll share with you one thing I think I've figured out: All a teacher really can do is create opportunities for others to learn. The learning takes place inside each of us, and better teachers just create more learning opportunities, better learning opportunities, than others do. They find ways to help those intending to learn, interested in learning, to do just that, sometimes by showing how to learn, the value of learning, in their own lives. But the action, the real point of interest, is the students, not the instructors. The teachers with the biggest egos are sometimes—hell, often—the least effective ones.

But I did learn something, or at least was reminded of something, from the exchange: I remembered that I should be more gracious with strangers. With anyone. Not scoff. Not belittle.

I shouldn't have laughed, and I'm truly sorry for that. If you happen across this, please accept my apology. And my gratitude for the lesson.

"...I remembered that I should be more gracious with strangers."


He wasn't gracious with you. No point in giving everyone a break all your life, unless you're Jesus. Which you are not, because he passed away.

- BT
Two reasons:

(1) I know you've been dealing with contractors for months/years/eons, so this will be tough to believe, but most people (50.1%?) are, in fact, trying to do their best most of the time (50.1%?). Maybe he was just having a bad day/year/life.

(2) Generosity may have been a better word choice than graciousness. Generosity goes a long ways.

So the point is not to institute justice or fairness or appropriateness to the situation at hand: it's to try to come up with ways to live that end up making things incrementally better. For everyone, even someone acting like a flake.
Yes, you are right - good points taken.

Though yeah, I'm rather weary of giving and giving just lately, only to be taken in return...ultimately it hasn't changed me, as I'm still being courteous to most everybody...hmmph.
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