Log in

No account? Create an account
bird poops on plum branch


Buster Benson

No advice column.

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Absurd Advice from Buster (edition #2)
I think that I want things until I get them, at which point they scare me and I try to run away. How do I tell what I actually want, as opposed to what I only want to want?

Think about the universe as an onion.  The outer layer, all things possible.  Peel one layer and now you have all things people want for one reason or another.  One layer deeper holds all things you think you want.  Where are the things you actually want?  They are strands of onion weaving throughout all of the layers.  You, then, are a brilliant little bug crawling in and out of this onion, eating all kinds of things, some which you want, others which you think you want but actually don’t, others which you didn’t know you wanted until you had them, and still others (the rare few) that you both thought you wanted and actually turned out to want.  Quite a random and surprising life exists for the onion bug in the onion of all things wanted and unwanted, you might think.

Now, we’re all crawling in this conundrum.  Your problem is not that you don’t know what you want, it’s that you’re scared of what you want.  Developing a taste for things that you want is possibly one of the chief-most tasks that you have.  To taste a thread of unknown union and physically taste the extent to which it satisfies your desires is a matter of cultivation, sensitivity, and courage.  If you’re afraid of new tastes, or of your own dreams realized, you’re going to spit out even the tastiest morsels of life... not because they taste bad, but because your own mouth’s acid is bitter to your taste.  A tragic fate indeed!

My absurd advice for you... practice new things, and retry things you don’t like.  Small things at first, like that food you haven’t tried since childhood, and moving to bigger things like changing your entire wardrobe, moving to Paris, and marrying your nemesis.  Treat this new challenge as a new wine drinker would a sommelier course.  Savor the subtleties.  Know your fears and face them.  Repeat, gain momentum, and break through.

I’m going to call this the First Absurdity (being afraid of what you want).  For more specific advice and fewer metaphors, include more details in a follow-up.

I work with someone who is in love with me. He has me on a pedestal and I can’t handle it. Not only do I not reciprocate his feelings, I am starting to dread being in the same room with him. I will have to see him many times a day for a very long time. He is sensitive and good, but intense and getting scarier. He is also oblivious to my subtle hints. I know it’s probably time to sit him down and nicely tell him to leave me alone, but I’m not sure how to do it.

Some people don’t understand subtle hints, and for these people, direct words were invented.   Note however that these direct words don’t necessarily need to be delivered in a face-to-face encounter.  Yes, it’s tacky to break up with someone over text message or one-line email, but it’s not tacky to break up with your not-so-secret admirer in one of these ways.  In fact, because of the impersonal nature of these more indirect forms of abstract communication, it will spare his feelings and he won’t have to see you seeing his puppy dog eyes bursting into a thousand tears each reflecting his passive unspoken love for you.  Let those tears fall on his ergo keyboard and maybe choose a sunny day when he’s got sunglasses on.  Life is tough for the unrequited lover, indeed, but they will feel emotions that the requited lovers of the world can’t dream of.  Everyone wins.

I’m contemplating a complete change in about two years. I want to move to Europe or Australia or South America, get a new job, and fit into a completely new life. This is great, except that this isn’t the first (or second!) time that I’ve done this. Change is great and all, but am I in a rut because, oddly enough, I’m trying to change too often? How do you balance the need for change in your life and the benefits of a stable lifestyle?

Change is inevitable and should be embraced, even absolute and irreversible change.  Just divide it out and assume it will occur whether or not you pursue this or that particular brand of it.  The axes you should graph out and plot, instead, are Direction and Momentum.  Ask these questions in this order:

  1. What are you avoiding in life?
  2. What are you striving for in life? 
  3. Will moving to Europe or Australia or South America give you the emotional sensation of: A) moving you closer to something you are striving for, or B) further away from something you are avoiding?
  4. If A, move and double down.  If B, stay and face whatever you’re avoiding head on.
This is another example of the First Absurdity (being afraid of what you want), mentioned in the first question.

Have a question for me about advice, modern etiquette, or fortune telling?  Add an anonymous comment to this entry and I'll answer up to three of them by next week.