Life as an Extreme Sport

trust bound

Sunday night, sitting here along with my beer and thoughts, wind howling outside, occasionally gusting snow against the window with some vengeance. Light comedy on the television, but I wonder if something more sober, or at least darker, might not be more appropriate. It’s not that I’m feeling particularly bad, or even dark and twisty, but I am feeling introspective. It’s been a very long week, a week of chaos, and mistakes on my part. I knew the chaos was coming, and mistakes were inevitable, but I still don’t like either…well, the mistakes, anyhow. I suspect I actually might thrive on chaos.

I’ve been called out on some personality traits, and it was a fair calling out, but it’s still an uncomfortable thing. I realized, talking to Jen earlier today, that it’s been a while since anyone has gotten in my face (nicely or otherwise) and thrown me back at myself, or was so pointed in challenging what I say and why I do/say certain things. I guess…I was the golden child who could do no wrong for a while, and this was an important thing for me to hold on to. It gave a lot of validity to what I did, and helped me get over things, the hurtful things, that came part and parcel with my divorce. And, that’s not here now – which is okay, but it’s going to take a bit of adjustment on my part. It’s not that I’m a prima donna, by any means, but it catches you a bit short when you’ve become accustomed to being treated a certain way, and suddenly that way is gone and you’re getting blunt analysis of your character.

Another part and parcel of that divorce is my utter terror of two words, two words I did my best to avoid in my years at UW, where I did as much as I could alone, by myself, relying on no one, stubbornly insisting I would do it, could do it, alone. Those words? “Trust me.” I don’t do well with trust, something I’m realizing as I sit here with my barely touched beer. I realize that a lot of the issues that have caused me so much stress in the last week soundly rest with that issue, that freaking out and panic in the face of having to simply trust someone.

I did trust someone, and I got my heart and life handed back to me post-paper shredder. I pulled myself back together with a lot of effort and duct tape, and learned that trusting other people is bad. Of course, I also spent a lot of time arguing that trust is good, and can happen again after it’s been broken – have marveled that we can pull ourselves back together and make ourselves vulnerable again. And that’s sort of the whole thing with trust – in opening yourself to trust, you also open yourself to what happens when trust is broken. Alfonso Lingis, in his book Trust, says this so beautifully:

In trust one adheres to something one sees only partially or unclearly or understands only vaguely or ambiguously. One attaches to someone whose words or whose movements one does not understand, whose reasons or motives one does not see.

Is it all the things that are known that encourage the leap, in this one instance, to adhere to something unknown as though it were known? Is it not because of a long past tried and true that someone becomes a trusted adviser? Is it all that one knows about laws, the institutions, the policing, and all that one knows about the values, the education, the peer pressure of individuals in a society that induce one to trust this individual met at random on a jungle path? But the more one knows about a tried and true adviser, the more clearly one sees that every act of loyalty opened an opportunity for disloyalty.

This was part of that summer institute I did, and so I have actually thought a lot about this – and I appear to have regressed a bit from the point I was at to where I am now. Perhaps that’s just a result of new environment, change,..and fear. If I screwed up in the past, no huge deal – just my pride. If I screw up now, I feel like we’re talking career bites dust sort of huge deals.

I pulled out my paper from the Institute – the project that came of it is sitting about 5 feet away, but it’s easier to just read what I wrote. And if I isolate out what I wrote on trust alone, of forming and losing and trying again, it still rings very true – almost insightful.

trust and time are intimately linked. one cannot exist without the other. time is a construct. all that exists is now, the present. we are always in the present, passing through it. we never reach the future, and the past is always behind us. we build trust, and make the decision to trust, based on experiences – events – from our past. these singular events allow us to look at the seemingly endless options in front of us and narrow them down; trust becomes a filter that allows us to make decisions. in the network of life, trust gives us a way of managing what would be incomprehensible.

when trust is broken, our options become limitless, and we are paralized, not in fear, but in choice. we have no way of narrowing down the potentiality of an event or situation without the ability to trust. but we trust – or not – based on prior events, and it is difficult to override those prior events that taught us that we cannot believe ourselves. without the ability to trust, we are everpresent in the now, unable to pass through the present. we become stuck.

to free ourselves from being stuck, we have to take a risk. we have to look at the future potentialities and guess, choose blindly, choose based on what other people offer you. trust is a multiperson experience, and if someone extends you their trust, they do so on the basis of their experience, and what they think of you. what they think you will do. the options become filtered through the actions of another. it is up to us, whether or not we accept that external filter. it is up to us to make the decision that a single anomalic event does not mean we always have bad judgment.

to become unstuck, you must trust.

the only thing that means anything is what we do.

I realize I have the choice to stand where I am, and have the future so open I am paralyzed, missing the trust I need in order to act decisively, to have futures narrowed to manageable potentiality. Or, I just…do what loyalty wants, and acknowledge that with an act of trust comes the potential for hurt, and the beauty of hope.