Thursday, January 03, 2008

Issues of Image

Over on a couple of other blogs I frequent (Can You Be a Part of My Life and Prodigal Daughter) there's been a discussion of body image and a how a person's body image can positively or negatively effect their treatment of others. For example a formerly overweight man coming to grips with the popularity gained from suddenly being physically appealing for a change. Some people are able to handle the change and don't allow the change in their body to adversely effect their interpersonal relationships (platonic, romantic, familial, etc.) and others...

Well with others, there's a comic book-esque personality transformation-- a once kind and noble man or woman becoming intoxicated by the power their newfound "power" (physical attraction) has on those they seek to attract. They seek to "punish" or get revenge on those whom they believe have wronged them in the past... or maybe not those people exactly but people they perceive to be "the same type" by proxy end up feeling the brunt of their pent up anger and angst.

So the once kindly humorous homely gent who used to get teased in school-- rather than treating the ladies with respect because he felt that was the only card he had to play, now has a whole deck of tricks and he aims to use each and every one of them to humiliate, put-down, and/or berate all those he views as having been the prom queens, cheerleaders, and other girls who in the past, didn't give him a second glance or acknowledge his existence.

But perception creates reality, and false perceptions can turn into truth by way of self-fulfilling prophecies. The once homely gent who has cleaned himself up... it used to be he couldn't get dates because he was unattractive to those he sought to attract... now he'll have trouble getting dates because he's an asshole to all the women he does date... He's cashing in all the bad karma he's collected over his life and dishing it out to people who had nothing to do with it...

Or as Jay McInerney once described it in his Story of a Life, it's a "chain of pain."

It's not right, of course, but it is inherently human... We get hurt and the first reaction is to lash out and hurt those who hurt us. When they're unavailable the urge is sometimes there to hurt others whom we feel are representative of those who did hurt us... hurt them and by proxy you hurt those who hurt you. It's quite flawed logic, but when one is hurt and/or angry, sound logic seldom gets paid attention to. And thus we end up with the "chain of pain."

What makes it such a huge mess, is that many of those who are caught in this chain don't even realize it. And the trouble is, it's really hard to break the chain. You can't be blunt after all, I mean telling an asshole that he's being an asshole will only piss off said asshole that much more and only further perpetuate the chain of pain... You might or might not end up being the next link in the chain but someone else certainly will be-- even if you aren't...

So later on, after reading about body image and how a change in body and thus body image can adversely affect some people I was reading on the late Dennis Wilson (the Beach Boy, the only one who actually was an honest-to-God surfer). And in the article I was reading on him there was a quote and it made me think to myself, maybe that's how to break the chain:
I give everything I have away. What I am wearing and what’s in that suitcase is it. I don’t even have a car. I have a 1934 Dodge pick-up truck which someone gave me. I could have anything I want. I just have to go out and get it. If it’s worth having, it’s worth giving. The smile you send out will return to you!
It's a chain of love-- it's not about giving back to the world what you get out of it... Because quite honestly the world has heaped some serious piles of shit on some people and you don't really want that spread around, now do you? It's about giving back to the world BETTER than what the rest of the world has given you. If the world has been good to you, give EVEN BETTER back to the world.

I won't deny that there are some folks out there who probably do legitimately deserve the shit that gets piled on them. And on the occasions when I come into contact with such people there is that part of me that would love nothing more than to give such people just what they have coming to them... But if I give them that, it just means it's going to go right back into the chain of pain... and while dishing said shit out might not put me in the chain, I would certainly be contributing to it. And in the end, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it?

*My apologies to both Lauren and Barbara as I've taken this discussion from their blogs in a very different direction... My mind just started going in a different direction and this is where I ended up.


Awareness said...

I can't tell you how timely this post is. I just spent the last hour talking to my husband about a situation I am personally trying to deal with.......its a long story, so in a nutshell, there is a job I'm very qualified for and no one seems to be willing to help me or even recognize that i could easily slide right into this job and do it well. My point was that I am always cognizant of helping others in my work world with stuff like this......thereby putting out positive stuff. It's not like I am doing it for reward, I really don't. but, I guess I've always felt that if you do what is right and help out others, it comes back to you. The opposite of your chain of pain I guess.

So........why is that not happening?? Why does the chain of pain continue to slide my way when I'm doing the opposite??? It won't stop me from sticking my neck out for others. It's what I truly believe is how we should live our lives. I just wish for once someone would do the same for me.

Darrin, you wrote something on my blog almost a year ago, which I found just this week when I reread some of my posts......

"There was a man who walked on water.
He came to set the people free.
He was the ultimate example of what love could truly be.
Cause his love was his life.
And he gave it away.
You've got to give it away..."

And now, I've given it back to you. :)

The Phoenix said...

Sounds like your chain of pain or love is karma. What goes around comes around...

The truth is, there are lots of people that get things they don't deserve. Positive or negative.

I think there's some level of truth in karma, but I just don't think the universe is fair. You reap what you sow...I believe that's true 70% of the time.

Perplexio said...

awareness: I actually almost posted those lyrics myself. I love that song by Michael W. Smith. It takes Christ's true message of love and delivers it far more clearly than the past 2000 years of theologians have come close to doing.

Phoenix: The universe isn't fair, I agree. My point was more that while when you put good karma out there you may not always get it back but if you put the bad karma out there you're DEFINITELY going to get it back.

Barbara (aka Layla) said...

APOLOGY!? Dude, this post is AWESOME! It's an honor to inspire you. Your thoughts are insightful, wise and sensitive. I will link to this over the weekend.

Lauren said...

I love where you took this topic! In spiritual terms we are all connected, so what you do directly affects me, the planet etc...You are correct 100%.

Dantallion said...

I think you've hit this right on the head. If we expand on the unwritten rule that we want to give our children more than what we had to include people in general, imagine how different a place this would be?

Perplexio said...

Barbara and Lauren: I'm glad you like where I took this. I just started with a thought and the post took on a life of its own. Where I ended up going with the topic is not where I had intended... But in the end I felt I'd said something better/more important that what I'd actually been trying to say.

dantallion: Too many people who want their children to have "more" than they did focus far too heavily on financial success and material wealth than on the things which truly matter. Love, respect, and tolerance.