20 August 2013

No Divide

In the 1990 feature film Misery the psychotic retired nurse Annie Wilkes is an obsessed fan of author Paul Sheldon and his romance novel series. When his car skids off the road during a snowstorm, Annie pulls his body, and a briefcase containing his just-finished manuscript, from the wreckage and carries both to her remote farmhouse to oversee Paul's convalescence.

She reads the manuscript and discovers he has killed off the title character of the series, Misery Chastain. She is outraged and forcefully demands the invalid writer to destroy the manuscript and rewrite the novel.

She is his Number One fan.

Until she isn't.

The story is a fictionalized exaggeration of something that happens every day in the real world. Friendships and affinities spring up and then, Surprise! You find out your friend is not who you thought they were. The story you thought they were telling when you met turns in a direction you don't like. You don't want to be friends with them any longer. Maybe you even hate them. They become friends with someone you don't like. They join a different church. They don't hire your nephew for an opening at their company.

Discovering that someone is not who you thought they were or
who you needed them to be or
who you think they should be

Finding out that someone is not just like you -- doesn't believe what you believe and admire who you admire and fear what you fear

Well, it is hard. It hurts. Drives people to commit murder or suicide. Robs them of sleep and appetite. Parents disown their children for behaving in a way that runs counter to their plans:  they marry the "wrong" person or choose the "wrong" career, for example.

Friendships ended during the last presidential race, strained to the breaking point under the stress of differing opinions. Hearing that someone you knew (or perhaps loved) belonged to a different political party, that they were voting for "the other guy"? Unbearable! It made your blood boil. How could they possibly believe "he" was the better candidate?!

The need to be right (or for the other person to see they are wrong?) (or maybe there's no difference between the two?) was so strong that merely knowing where you stood or expressing your opinion just wasn't enough.

The need to be right doesn't always come as hot burning acid in the stomach. Sometimes it's more like pressure in the chest. The sufferer grits her teeth; her breathing grows shallow; she almost looks like she's smiling when she says "I heard what you said but I don't think you're understanding me..." Subtext: We both need to walk out of this room seeing things my way. 

Sometimes, there's additional subtext:  You need to feel bad about yourself or You need to admit you're wrong.

It is a kind of insanity. The compulsive nature of the need. The way we are blinded by it and sacrifice so much for it. The violence we are driven to.

The smile on the face while the mind explodes with "You are crazy! You are wrong!"

The energy expended ostensibly to "make a point" when what we really want is for the other person to be some other way than they are. To believe something other than what they believe. To say something other than what they are saying.

Does it matter? Do we really want everyone else to agree with us, to be just like us? What does being "right" grant us that we don't already have? What do we gain by insisting that another person abandon their position and fall in line with ours?

These questions don't have answers. These questions serve as wake-up calls when the compulsive I'm-right campaign begins inside us. They are more mantra than query. Their contemplation leads us back. To the Oneness that is us and holds all that is. There is no divide. Only endless diversity.