4 August 2006
When I was sixteen, I was invited out to see teachers. At that time there was at least one teacher who would socialize with students who had graduated and the person who asked me out was one of the people who regularly got together with him. Imagine my surprise when we arrived at the movie theater and my escort bought us tickets for the movie “Teachers.”
I don’t remember much of the movie because I spent the entire time panicking about what I would tell my parents when I got home, as I was not allowed to see rated “R” movies. To this day I don’t remember what I told them. Knowing me, I either didn’t really say anything, or I confessed all and threw myself on their mercy. I think I did the latter, as I have a vague recollection of them telling me not to worry about it. Like many teenagers I lacked a sense of proportion, and while I grew out of some of my more dramatic tendencies, I have found through the years that I am still clueless in certain, very specialized ways.
Something like this happens to me every few years. I mis-understand something so completely that the person I am talking to and I don’t even realize we are talking about completely different things until they are confronted with the evidence of my bafflement.
I should know from my years of dispute resolution training, to ask clarifying questions in such situations. The problem is, that I don’t realize there is anything to be confused about until I already at the movie theater having no clue how we wound up there (to use my earlier story as an metaphor).
Misunderstandings happen all the time, even between friends who have known each other for years. I filter words though my experiences and, sometimes faulty, senses and come up with an explanation that makes sense. I add to the words the my understanding of another person’s body language and other non-verbal cues. Even with all of that information, I can end up completely off the mark.
I have learned over the years, is to not take it too all to seriously. It helps that my friends are willing to laugh off such mistakes with me– but even when a misunderstanding happens with someone I don’t know well, a sense of humor helps turn an unsurmountable mountain of confusion into a mere speed bump.
I’m not saying there aren’t serious issues that should be fought out in the trenches. I, for one hold the line on issues of choice, gender equality, and human rights. Some battles are worth fighting. However, before I suit up for battle, I try to make certain that there is a battle to be fought.
As a result of my life experience, there are some issues that make me take to the lists promptly.
As a result of my various, and sometimes embarrassing misunderstandings over simple things, I try to ensure that I am acting on correct information before I get my lance out and charge.
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