‘For it really is quite unreasonable to grant every other of life’s professions opportunities for fun, but to allow no fun to all the scholars. What if the jokes bring with them some serious ideas?’*
‘We have contradictory desires. We want to be seen and we want not to be seen. We want to be known and we want not to be known.’**
I happened on these two quotes as I was rereading Sherry Turkle’s thoughts about how we’re expecting more from technology and less from people. Specifically, how her research uncovered people interacting with robots and websites as a means of getting things out that allow them to say sorry without apologising:
‘Each act makes the same claim … . […] In each, something less than a conversation begins to seem like a conversation. […] Sheryl’s online confessions do not lead her to talk to those she has wronged or to try to make amends. She goes online to feel better, not to make things right.’^
There feels to be an over-seriousness here at how we see ourselves, reminding me of Eckhart Tolle’s identifying of the ego as being the place of the false self, wherein resides our painbody. This is the part of us that wants to be upset and hurt by others because it confirms what we think about them, and, perhaps worse, what we think about ourselves.^^
In identifying the ego, we’re beginning to disarm it because it doesn’t want to be noticed. Perhaps, then, by learning to laugh at ourselves when confronted with many of the things people say or do to us (but not the more serious affronts and attacks), we’re releasing ourselves from some of the horrible things that play upon our minds and hearts. Instead of being preoccupied with these or carrying them around, we instead allow something greater to grow. Our future self is freed to wonder, be amazed, and to play in deep gladness.
Hugh Macleod writes about how those who are willing to fail are best able to innovate. I connect this here, because when we take ourselves too seriously, we find it harder to admit our failings and struggle to engage in the kind of innovation failure makes possible. Laughing at ourselves doesn’t guarantee that we flip this, but it does mean we can relax into exploring the possibilities.
Seth Godin finishes a blog with these words, which I think fit well here:
‘He’s a jerk, a two-timer, a double-crosser. He deserves everything you throw at him, your cutting remarks, your sarcasm, your enmity. […] The thing is, it’s not clear that we benefit from carrying around all that vitriol. All the time we spend hating is time that we’ve given away to someone who hasn’t earned our time. […] Teaching someone a lesson is often overrated. Doing the lesson teaching in your head helps no one.
What happens if we walk away and make something magical instead?‘*^
(*From Roger Clarke’s translation of Erasmus’ Praise of Folly.)
(**From Kio Stark’s When Strangers Meet.)
(^From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)
(^^See Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.)
(*^From Seth Godin’s blog: He deserves it, but do you?)
(^*For the doodle, I had Paul McCartney’s Frog Chorus: We All Stand Together in mind as I drew We’ll All Laugh Together.)