Thursday, October 10, 2013

Modelling Roles

I wouldn't know how to be a role-model.

Some fellow last week wrote a comment praising the hell out of my knowledge and writing ability, then damning the use to which I applied them. I'm never very clear about that - if I'm so smart and knowledgeable, then how is it I don't know what I should be talking about? And why is it I'm expected to be a 'leader' by expounding the opinions of people who generally are not considered to be either knowledgeable or clever? How do I lead people on their crusades when I don't believe in their crusades? Wouldn't that make me a manipulating power-grabbing disingenious liar?

On the other hand, if I don't use my power for good - I kid you not, the guy came just this close to telling me with great power comes great responsibility - then I'm evil anyway. I'm evil because I don't champion commonly held truths.

Here's the whole comment, written on this post by c- dm:

"Yesterday I found your blog and I was ecstatic. I play a lot of D&D, most of it from the DM chair. The wealth of ideas you've shared with the gaming community here is praiseworthy on the merit of sheer volume alone. But the quality is also very high, far above the line for this sort of blog. Your passion for the craft is evident. Your background, your personal toolset as a DM, and even your trajectory through a half a lifetime of gaming reminds me a lot of my own experiences.

I don't know why I clicked on the Popular Posts link for this entry. I should have known better. But I did.

I'm very disappointed in you Alexis. It hurts. I can hear in your voice that were angry and wanting to vent. Everyone needs to vent now and then.

As a Canadian, as an ally, as a fellow gamer, and as a human being, you might have chosen to stand with your party members, here in times of trouble as in times of joy, and help us bear the burden. Instead, you have spitefully chosen to run to the sidelines and throw stones. You could have chosen to take this opportunity to bring people of like mind together and do some good. Instead you've chosen to divide us.

I implore you to make a different choice next time. Do not underestimate the influence that you have. When you speak people listen. Given the quality of your blog I'm willing to bet you have a lot of readers. You may not have asked for this responsibility, or even care, but you can change things. Not this way, but by donning the mantle of responsibility and leading the way.

Please, use your influence to lead."

Yes, well, I probably shouldn't have written that post. Too much Noam Chomsky in my head, I suppose. But don't worry. This isn't going to be a political post. Instead, I want to talk about dumping responsibility on people.

And with that, I'll remind the gentle reader of my first line. I wouldn't know how to be a role-model.

Not that I'm not proud of my efforts and happy with my peculiar way of biting and slashing at people; its only that I couldn't in good conscience recommend it as a methodology for dealing with people. People who know me well are familiar with a certain generousity they can expect from me ... but I'd say there's probably an unspoken - but privately held - understanding of what a selfish prick I am. I'm only lately realizing how this plays out in my private life; and that the source of it is definitely my parents.

My mother died about this time last year; I don't particularly miss her. I know that's wrong, but I've also come to realize - and my daughter concurs with me on this with regards to her grandparents, her uncle and her aunt (my brother and sister) - that I grew up in what was largely a loveless home. A responsible home. A respectable home. A home where morality and propriety were held in high estimation. But in fact, a hollow shell.

I did not raise my daughter in such a home. Her mother passed away some years ago, but my partner Tamara is a second mother to my daughter and we are all very close. They both tolerate me and they have both had personal, close experience with the exact reasons why I am broken.

Not something that's going to be evident online. Online, I am only going to appear to be broken without cause. Which is funny, really, since obviously no one is ever broken without cause, and no one who is broken decided to be. The myth that we could all be happy if we simply pretended to be has managed to sell a lot of bad books to broken people who haven't adjusted to their peculiar broken natures, but it really is all just a myth.

We are broken, and that is what has the potential to make us great.

There is nothing special about a perfect piece of pottery that is manufactured by a machine. It sits in your cupboard like its five other perfect brothers, utterly interchangeable and fully replaceable. If you're the sort of person who needs clean, perfect, unflawed things out of which to drink your coffee, then the world has been made for you. Pottery Barn has all you'll ever need.

My favorite cup is anything but perfect. It has a chip on the bottom that broke off when my daughter's mother some 19 years ago hurled it at me in a fit of anger. The cup bounced on the carpet, banged through the bathroom door and ricocheted off the sink without smashing to pieces. It's a big, clunky, hand-made pottery thing and at the moment its not in my cupboard. It's in a box, buried in a storeroom, safe and sound and fully useable. It didn't ask to be broken. Yet it stood up to that indignity with dignity. I love that damn thing.

It can't be replaced. It can't be copied. There's not another cup in the world like it, and there will never be another cup in the world like it. It will never be a role-model for cups.

My particular nature is not to be found in my manufacture, nor in the failed storage facility of my early years. My particular nature is in the glue and gunk that has been slapped into the cracks and ground down over the years. Those edges are nothing like as sharp as they used to be. Another decade or two and they might actually be smooth and comfortable to touch. I can't say. I'm still working on it.

But I'm not here to lead any body down my particular path. The gentle reader shouldn't expect that. At best, I might offer some other path, gathered either from wisdom or from a big sign reading "warning - avoid area." It would be perhaps best to heed that message.

I really wouldn't know how to be a role-model. I think it likely that no one should ever be a role-model, nor seek role-models. There's something parasitic and festering with the whole business. Best to get on with fixing your own broken pieces and leave me to fix mine. And if mine seem to cause division and spread hate and evil, well ... don't read this blog. Encourage others not to read it.

But don't encourage me not to write it, nor to write it in some other way. That's a waste of your time.


Sofia Koleva said...

Though I took exception to the blog post linked above, I certainly wouldn't have you change anything about your writing unless there was a corresponding change in your thinking. The blog is insightful, thoughtful and sometimes raw and not without some bile. I'll take it. I'll cracked Alexis over tepid role-model Alexis, even and especially when we disagree, whether he be admonishing players, taking other bloggers to task or laying waste to preconceptions.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

"If the U.S. doesn't want other people to wage war against them, then they should STOP waging war. They should wage peace, they should stop instigating violence in other countries, they should stop selling arms, they should stop manipulating other governments to support American industry and so on."

Agreed on all counts. I just don't understand how many of my fellow Americans won't even budge a tiny bit on the consideration that our government has done things to make anti-American sentiment possible. There is so much fear and head-in-the-sand behavior here, it's mind-boggling.

As for being "broken," my friend, I would argue that what we might consider "broken" about ourselves is not broken at all. I would say that one's life-path has created just who one is supposed to be in the now. Would you have your depth if insight, writing ability, and other talents if you hadn't experienced your life as it happened? I try to think that way when I find myself dwelling on the emotional abuse of my own youth. Consider that you were never broken in the first place. Rather, like your cherished cup, you have nicks but are otherwise able to "hold liquid," i.e. you are able to provide something of value to the world.

Alexis Smolensk said...

LOL ... cbakerson, you don't have to explain my metaphor to ME.

All smiles here.

Issara Booncharoen said...

I wrote a long involved comment but all I'm left with is my inability to comprehend how people who refuse to learn from sources which cause the discomfort or offence ever expect to learn anything.

Taren said...

"My particular nature is not to be found in my manufacture, nor in the failed storage facility of my early years. My particular nature is in the glue and gunk that has been slapped into the cracks and ground down over the years. Those edges are nothing like as sharp as they used to be. Another decade or two and they might actually be smooth and comfortable to touch. I can't say. I'm still working on it."

...this sentiment and the paragraphs that follow are very beautifully written, Alexis. I'm moved by the honesty within. Thank you.