"Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. " Betty Friedan

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Belief Can

At the risk of turning this blog into a John Mayer love fest, I am once again featuring one of his songs because the lyrics just fit, and to be honest, because I really like the song. So, if you don’t like him or his music, or don’t want to hear my personal opinion, step away from the blog. If you want to just read the lyrics, they are at the bottom of this blog post.


His Belief points out the obvious, and the not so obvious, about our preconceived notions, about what we believe, and how it can do many things. While it is a political tune, and frames belief in this context, when you think about it, everything we do, everything we are, is based on our beliefs, even things we might not be aware that we do.

We all believe that we are right; that if the other person or people would just listen closely enough or long enough, they will see how right we are. But, the truth is, we can’t all be right. It is literally impossible for us to all be right. And yet, we argue endlessly to prove our correctness even over stupid, little things that really don’t have a right or a wrong. Things that just are: is vanilla better than chocolate (NO it is not), or whether a cafĂ© mocha is better with or without whipped cream (it’s better with and I am so RIGHT on this one).

If only these beliefs stopped at the little things, life would be so much easier. But, it is usually the big things that can tear friendships and families apart. But, what’s a big thing to me, might be a little thing to you. 

While I have been working hard on “maturing” since I am “Beyond My 50th Year,” I find the one area I still struggle with the most is when I am dealing with friends and family members whose beliefs are so polar opposite. More specifically, when they can’t turn them off, when their beliefs about the world permeate everything about them and is reflected in their behavior. It’s difficult to even be around them.

This is a far cry from when I was younger. I was that person, it was hard for people to be around me because I never turned it off, and people were uncomfortable being around me. I am sure many still are. There was a time not so long ago that I would willingly and blindly walk into any and every argument I was invited to. I am passionate. I wear my heart on my sleeve. This is not new, and my sense of right and wrong, my beliefs are so strong, that it often causes me such inner turmoil that I can’t often keep it inside. I might not go off like I did when I was young, but I also can’t hide how I feel and my dislike for someone. I might not say it anymore, but it is obvious when I am not comfortable around someone.

Sadly, I also know that there are those in my life who get some satisfaction at deliberately provoking that uncomfortableness because for years I gave them so much ammunition to do it with. While I can’t control them or stop them from doing it, what I have done is simply limited any interaction or time spent with them.

An example is people that I like to call “Dr. Dooms” or “Negative Nellies.” At the risk of making this post even longer, in short, they see the world as a bad or negative place, they always see the worst in every situation and in every person, they complain about everything, and only find humor in belittling or mocking others, and they insist that they are always right...about EVERYTHING. They are so close-minded and clueless at how their behavior makes others feel, that they don’t even see it, and will counter that they are only joking or tell you to not to be so sensitive if you bring this to their attention.

About five years ago, that is the place that I found myself in. I was that Negative Nelllie. I was also the one who tried to convince others that I was always right about both the big and little things in the world. Ironically, this seems to make it harder for me to be around those that are still in that place. As hard as I have worked on trying to recognize that they are who they are, and are just as passionate as I am about what they think is right and how the world ought to run, I still feel like fleeing is my only alternative . I’m hoping that this will become easier for me the more I practice it. If you have any tips on how to do this, please let me know by sharing them in the comments section.

Belief by John Mayer

Is there anyone who ever remembers
Changing their mind
From the paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud
One time

Oh, everyone believes
In how they think it ought to be
Oh, everyone believes
And they're not going easily

Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching under water
You never can hit who you're trying for

Some need the exhibition
And some have to know they tried
It's the chemical weapon
For the war that's raging on inside

Oh, everyone believes
From emptiness to everything
Oh, everyone believes
And no one's going quietly

We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this if belief is what we're fighting for

(Is there anyone who you can remember
Who ever surrendered
With their life on the line?)

We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this if belief is what we're fighting for

What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand?
Belief can
Belief can
What puts the folded flag inside his mother's hand?
Belief can
Belief can

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