18 June 2021

Jeff’s Frustrations

 Jeff’s Frustrations





I’m so lucky to be basically surrounded by honest people, because I’ve never been able to cope with fakeness. Being “plastic” as they call it here, or being “sip sip” which has several meanings but basically means being fake in order to put someone off-guard to gain some sort of self-serving influence.


I’m an Aussie! Yes, been here in Philippines for 11 years. Haven’t been back for 10 years. Of course we change and we evolve, but hard to change the way you were moulded and conditioned in your formative years. And whilst I happily shed certain negative characteristics of being an Australian in favour of more positive and people-friendly aspects of Filipino character….well….other areas? I’ll take to the grave with me (in 30 years!)



Aussie Honesty


In Australia? We tend to be direct and uncomplicated. We say what we mean, and we mean what we say. “Jenny says she likes me/would never beg for money/will be my friend for ever!” and we believe it because she said so. It’s good enough!


Filipinos? “Ohhh, I wonder if any of that is true? What is she up to?”


These days? I’m now able to consider that somebody is lying, but it certainly isn’t my first thought. I take people at face-value, and I question this only when something doesn’t feel right. OR I question when my wife questions, and sorry but she’s usually right.


But my goodness, I HATE this! I like to believe people and like to think the best of them, and it brings about various levels of heartbreak when my illusions are shattered. Varying levels, because it depends on how long you’ve known the person. Know them for a long time and hold them close to your heart, and it makes you question everything when you find out you were wrong. Known them for a shorter time and you discover they weren’t all-they-appeared or all-they-made-themselves-out-to-be, and it slides off my back easier and faster. I move on. 


(And to any paranoiacs reading? This is not referring to any specific person. There've been a few!)



The moral challenge


The challenge is: Do I harden-up and stop trusting people as a self-defence strategy? 


I guess that crosses my mind for less-than-a-minute at times. It’s like any negative thought. Doesn’t sit right, and I don’t think I’d like myself very much if I became hard-hearted. Yes, you take a few less falls, but at what cost?



Quote from Kahlil Gibran*


Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?


and…..


Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.



Yes, character-building. And it’s the measure of a man how he deals with adversity. Is he only kind and principled when things are bright and cheerful, or does he remain virtuous when under duress?


A truly great man once said “Forgive them, father. For they know not what they do.” If He could forgive so much and to continue loving, then who am I to do otherwise?


He also said we should love our enemies and forgive those who persecute us. 


Not easy! But you come out stronger in the end. That’s what I try to do (with varying levels of success)

.


Those truly close to me


I’m immensely grateful to those truly honest people who are close to me. I mean mostly my wife and my kids. They couldn’t be “plastic” with me to save their lives! I was explaining about one of my daughters (which will recognise herself IF she reads this) how brutally honest she is.


“Did you hear my joke?” “Yes!” “Did you like it?” “No!”


Of course I wish she liked all of my jokes, but I value her bluntness! She’s never said a word in her life just to please me, and I’m really OK with that.


And most of the time that is my life…..my home….my family… my haven. Where I feel absolutely safe to love and to trust without restraint. I may bare my soul without fear of judgement. My likes, my dislikes, my frustrations, my pain, my sins……there for all to see. Maybe the occasional sin hidden a bit if I’m struggling with it, but I suspect less hidden than with many people. No editing. No “Oh, but if I say that they might think blah blah blah….”!


What that means? I would like to think that those around me will appreciate not having to decipher what I say or do, and think “What does he really mean?” What do I mean? What I @&*%$ well SAID is what I mean! I wouldn’t insult you OR insult myself to do anything other. 


And THAT is what the average Australian thinks and does! Good qualities in my book!


If someone chooses to judge me or misinterpret my words of my actions? Their problem. Not mine. I’ve been like this for 56 years and it’s far too late to change my essence. Like it or lump it.


I just have some forgiving to do. Not always easy!



*Kahlil Gibran. Look up “The Prophet”. You can find it free as a pdf on Google.