Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Politics of Manners

I don't know why it is, but my best thoughtful (philosophical) moments come when I'm doing needlework or writing in my journal.

I need a case for my reading glasses because I've reached that age I need them everywhere (grocery store, banks, filling out applications, etc.) and the little reading glasses that fit into a plastic case just isn't cutting it any more. They are small, fall off my nose, and are a little bit too strong. I know. I could buy a pair that aren't as strong, but they have a tendency to fall out of the hole in my shopping bag since I don't carry a purse any more. Why bother? I do not need a bag hanging around my neck or over my shoulder or arm to carry a lot of useless things I won't use; whereas my shopping bag (very stylish, blue, printing about being eco-conscious) is very useful for quick stops, holds my canvas shopping bags, and all I put in it are my wallet, keys, and reading glasses. Very useful and I'm not dragging around a lot of junk. That's what I have a house for -- a place for my junk stuff.

Anyway, I was needlepointing an eyeglass case in the wee hours before the dogs got up and started barking (just minutes before) and couldn't get back to sleep, so I picked up the case and continued stitching. I did get all the color work done and now have only the black background to stitch. Have you any idea what a pain it is to stitch black on black even with a 150-watt light? Getting old eyes sucks, but that's another topic for another time.

As I stitched, the idea of gratitude and manners came to mind. Okay, both are subjects that often come to mind in this mannerless world of rude crudes. There is a difference between gratitude and manners. People with manners will ma'am and sir you and speak with what sounds like respect, but it's like a smile that never reaches the eyes. An exercise of learned response versus true gratitude and manners. I prefer the former. I can handle rude (have you met my family?), but I find it difficult to understand and accept ingratitude.  It's something I see several times a year.

Don't get me wrong. I often donate and give gifts anonymously. I don't need the accolades and I'm not trying to build up points in heaven because I don't believe in heaven. Well, not as a religious concept where people who said the right words in the right religious way, and often with zealous religious fervor. It seems to me that refusing to enjoy the life you're given to build up points to go to a place where everything is all sunshine and light and praising some god is the antithesis of living the life you were given. Mortgaging the present for some nebulous future that may or may not exist and could be taken away if you fail to give thanks or do the right things according to whatever doctrine you follow. Makes no sense. Yet another topic for another time.

Back to gratitude and manners. There is something empty about someone giving the formulaic response to a gift. "Thank you, ma'am. It was nice. I like it." A 'really like it' may be added -- or left out -- but that empty feeling settles in the pit of my stomach when I hear it. I can tell by the tone of voice, the glitter in the eyes, the broad smile, the excited words, and the spontaneous hugging that the gift was well received. That is gratitude. The former is manners -- by rote. A formula for acceptable behavior. It's as flat as last week's 7-Up left open on the counter.

As I pondered the difference, I got an idea to embark on a completely new path. I thought about writing a short story, but something inside me kept saying, "Write a play. Dramatize it." I've done enough plays and read a lot of scripts, so I know the basic format and what I want to achieve. Flitting over the transom in my mind came a memory of Sandra Bullock overseeing the stage settings for one of her character's plays while giving an interview to a reporter. That published interview set the stage for family drama the likes of which I can imagine. Good thing most of my family is either dead or estranged. No one will notice if I put them on the stage and give them sides to memorize.

What it all comes down to is this. Give me honesty emotion however expressed and save me from learned manners without emotion. No wonder the world of Jane Austen has gone the way of historical romance and movies. That kind of socially correct and soulless responses leaves a bad taste in the mouth -- and on the heart. Maybe honest, unguarded emotions (and words) are best. At least in the case of political posturing, give me emotion every time.

Other thoughts have crossed my meditative mind, but this is the first time I've considered writing a play. I like it. I like it a lot. (imagine a big grin full of teeth and the glitter of mischief in my eyes.) Now that is gratitude. Honest gratitude from me to the muse without political correctness and political posturing. Unadulterated. Unexpurgated. Unvarnished. Unfettered.

That is all. Disperse.

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