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compliments part II

i know what it's like. it's like being complimented for the fact that i have perfect pitch.

i've had people throughout my life say that it's so cool or amazing that i have perfect pitch. i'll agree it's a cool thing, but sometimes when people express their thoughts regarding it, they give it a flavor of a compliment as if it's something that i earned or that it's a talent that i should be praised for. But it's not a skill or a talent; it's something i was born with. the tired old analogy of pitches vs. color will always apply here: people who are color blind don't compliment people who can see color. But color is also something that's more common and easy to take for granted, whereas perfect pitch is more rare, so therefore it's revered more by those that don't have it towards those that do. that feels pretty wrong to me, so when people try to give me that complimentary attitude about it, i try to downplay it. it's more impressive to me when i encounter someone who has the same sort of pitch instincts who *doesn't* have perfect pitch, when someone can understand intervals and harmonies and all of that at a level that is close to or even surpasses mine based on how they learned and practiced and strived to become an expert at it. they earned their skill. i didn't have to put any effort into it, it was a gift.

there are a few people in my life who know me very deeply, who i've had discussions with regarding the reasons behind some of my thoughts and actions, and they are amazed at the level of which i dedicate myself to the people who i care about and love. it goes something like this:

there have been a few times in my long relationship history where i've been (to oversimplify) taken advantage of and then screwed over by people who i devoted my heart to. not deliberately or maliciously; the circumstances were just tough for all parties involved and it's not like i was perfect in those situations. when it comes to matters of the heart, things can be complicated. i understand that no one wanted to rip my heart out and vice versa.

in those situations, i can go through a period of bitterness, blame, and anger, especially in the more recent years when i have more self-awareness of what it is that i feel that i deserve as a generally decent human being. but after a while, it doesn't make sense for me to hold on to those sorts of negative energies directed at those that i love because since those negative energies have no productive outlet, the only thing it does is cause strife to myself and no one else, so eventually i let them go for my own peace of mind.

but more than that - individual situations, no matter how hurtful, fade. my love for people just doesn't. the way i treated the rebecca situation proved that to me, the connection that i've maintained with hannah and kim after all of these years despite our branching life paths proves that to me, the friendship and closeness i keep with katie proves that to me. and that's just people i've been in serious relationships with. i love those people and many more to many various degrees. and one of the effects of loving someone is that you want them to be happy, so in those situations when things end poorly, after the bitterness goes away, after the anger goes away, what remains is the love, what remains is the desire to ensure that my loves are as happy as possible and if there's anything that i can do to make them happy or ease any unhappiness, why would i even *hesitate* to act upon it?

(let's be tangentally clear that when i use the term "happy" in this way, it has an overarching context to it rather than an immediate context, as in i'm sure that there are ways in which i could make some of my past loves happy very directly but in ways that would blur the definition of the relationship we had in the past vs. what it is we have now, which is not something i'm in the business of mucking with, epsecially since a few of them are now married.)

and taking it a step further - the times that i get hurt by the people who i love and devote myself to, i now know having gone through it several times that eventually the hurt heals and it doesn't change the love. so if i *know* that, then why would i not have a reflex to try to make them happy even if i'm still hurt? what is love if it isn't that? who would i be if i couldn't do that?

the point of explaining this is to say that this sort of mentality, the devotion, the love, this way of being - people can say that it's an amazing thing and an amazing part of my character, and i think i don't understand it in the same way that i don't understand how people can compliment me for having perfect pitch. i don't know what led me to become this way or at least strive to be this way, but in my mind it's a Fact in the same way that having perfect pitch is a fact of my existence. it's not a mindset that i choose to have, it's a mindset that's a part of who i am. i can't stop feeling this way any more than i can stop having perfect pitch or stop breathing.

so it's... baffling when someone who knows this deeply enough about me tries to compliment me about it. honestly, all i'm trying to be is me, is be true to myself and to others. i know that i've done great and amazing things, and i'll take modest credit for what it is that i've achieved. i know that i'm a decent human being, a decent teacher, and i can acknowledge people who tell me as such. but for me to accept and acknowledge a compliment that i myself am amazing just for being Me feels like taking credit for something that has nothing to do with me having actually *done* anything or earned anything.

maybe that's a naive thing for me to think. it doesn't matter if it is. thinking about it differently would require a major shift in the perception i have of myself that would take a lot of time and energy that i don't think is necessary since i'm a generally content individual. who knows? maybe that mentality will change on its own over the next ten years or so as my life journey continues.

i doubt it, though. one other thing i can definitely be is stubborn about who i am. more the pity for whoever has to deal with *that*.

wow, this was longer than i expected. kind of forgot to eat dinner. time to scrounge.


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(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
May. 5th, 2010 08:42 am (UTC)
you have AAA'd life. awesome!
( read spoken (3) — speak )


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