Message from the Oracle - Shut Up.

The Oracle is something of an inside joke: sometimes I pop off with a message for someone without being able to say exactly how I came to it. My several brains are always working, never at the same speed. This morning I oracled myself in my waking-dream:  I told *me I need to stop interjecting myself into other people's lives.

Interesting, because I thought I'd already stoppited. I'm still not sure what the dream was trying to show me. These things don't come with instruction manuals.

The message gave me reason to consider the differences between interjection and establishing connections. Connection is a normal and healthy concept, both in business and interpersonal relationships. Interjection sounds pushy, invasive. Where's that boundary?

Interjection is possibly not the right word. The thing I mean finds its roots when a person is accustomed to being accepted for what they can offer rather than for their authentic self; in other words they're used to being used. Someone shows attention; what do they want? You find someone interesting; what can you give them? In some cultures it's important to be ridiculously polite and extend an offer several times, or deny it a few times if it's something you actually want to accept. This boundary may be fuzzier than others in different contexts.

Especially in low-income communities, relationships are formed on what people can do for one another; it makes sense for building a community. But how often do people get dropped when they're no longer useful - don't have a job, can't baby-sit, aren't funny any more?

I always say giving is selfish, and it often is: expectation is inherent - either tangible goods or favors, or acknowledgement (even from yourself) that you did some good. Just validation. Sounds terrible.

You have to actively practice giving unselfishly. It really doesn't come naturally. Practice giving without rewarding yourself and you'll see what I mean.

With the wrong habits, the wrong currency is in play, and suddenly it feels weird when someone is just happy you showed up. Without an expectation, we don't know what to do next.

Actually, it's worse than that. One of the smartest people I ever met told me:
You have got to learn to receive.
It was a shocking message at first, but I felt the import of it. He'd oracled me and I never forgot the lesson, though it's been very difficult to put into practice. I'm getting better at it.

Practice receiving selfishly, without tallying, without wondering what's expected of you next or how you can reciprocate.


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