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Tuesday 16 Jul 2024

Lessons of the Bucket
M Alan Roberts

The bark of Buckethead, my dog, woke me up from a mid-morning daydream. He saw a squirrel on the fence line, outside and thought it was his duty to alert me of a possible attack. It's okay; I need to wake back up anyway.

Today is a busy day. One of those where you have far too much to do and you really don't feel like doing anything in the first place. In fact, I'd like nothing more than to lock myself in a room, draw the shades tight, turn on the idiot box and avoid every living being for at least two solid days. Sometimes, it's a good thing to spend time alone or maybe just with a close friend that you know you can trust, like Buckethead.

The truth is that most people don't have any real friends. They report to. They even partially judge themselves by how many friends they have, even though the majority of them have always been, and will always be, mere acquaintances at best. They allow the thoughts and words of their friends to shape their own words, actions and even their thoughts.

We are social creatures. We need others. We need others to validate our decisions. He or she, our friend, needs us to validate their decisions. When validated, we don't stand out as rebellious against the accepted and expected order of things.

We fear chastisement or being outcast. Being alone makes us, anxious instantly; they just can't cope with it. A big part of the evidence, of this fact, lies in all of the hundreds of millions of couples holding on to doomed relationships. They prefer to suffer degradation, disrespect, dishonesty and more than to simply stand alone.

Lighthearted, funny sitcoms are for our viewing pleasure and social training. Tens of millions of people faithfully watch each week as fictitious characters act out skits that represent only the finest examples of human behavior. Even when situations of tragedy dominate, all works out well in the end and the characters go on to blissfully experience their next adventures.

Life's not a sitcom most of the time though, is it. Instead, it's tough and callous. Genuine, caring friends are obsolete or so it seems, as are virtuous women, honest men, well-behaved children and a people-serving government. When real-life conditions present to real-life people, real-life emotional reactions occur. People often can't control their jealousy, anger, envy and other friendship-destroying emotions. They lash out at one another like untrained animals in failed, misplaced attempts to strike back at the continuous demands of society that they are unable to satisfy.

People endeavor to develop themselves into what others say is desirable, what they believe necessary to gain more acceptance from others. Only a lucky few are willing and bold enough to step outside of the traditional standards of behavior and at least attempt to be unique. Unlike the masses, they are unaffected by the opinions of others, at least to the degree that their own opinions mean the most to them. It's all right, with them, if their false friends do not approve. They believe in themselves first. Needing little approval, they face each day with endless possibilities. They have chances to generate positive experiences, experiences that most others simply will never understand.

Even friends that have been so for decades surprise each other daily with inconsideration, harsh words and other acts that make it seem that there really hasn't ever been a friendship at all. In real life, when a longtime friend let's another down, most often there is no ultimate understanding and/or forgiveness gained. There's just a sunk feeling of even more loneliness to deal with from then on. With each such happening, each such lesson, there is a further inward turning in us. We become hardened over the years from those who let us down, if we allow ourselves to.

Of course, then there's the possibility of meeting the negative emotions of others with understanding and foresight. If you count on people to screw up big occasionally, it helps to take away the shock associated. It also allows you to maintain a centered focus and not take anything personally. Friends don't always remain friends and they don't behave like TV actors. Expecting people to lose control once is a while helps to negate the affects it can have on you when they do. It also helps you to be aware of how you are thinking, acting and feeling so that you can monitor, dictate and control yourself.

Everyone I know has tough challenges that they are facing daily. They are the same people that I have known for decades; they just have more on their minds now than they used to. They, like me, feel sometimes that they are just about to lose it completely. They have been struggling for a long time with life's lessons, and they have every right to be exhausted and edgy. That's why they act like such dicks.

I guess the best that I can do to represent myself, and to be a factor of motivation for my friends is to be the type of friend that I wish they still were. Buckethead patiently requests I let him outside for a while. He wants to breathe some fresh air, play and enjoy his day. He always helps me to figure out such social dilemma.

M Alan Roberts is a radical thinker. He has a gimlet eye for injustice, much as did Frederich Engels, a century and a half before. Still, Roberts finds a way to write effective SEO copy. This suggests both sides of his brain, his mind, work equally well.

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