The Unbearable Lightness of Learned Humility
Posted on May 27, 2013
“You are the villain, your own infidel.
Devise your demise, create your own hell.” – (‘Infidel’ by Ego Likeness)
The older I get and the more mistakes I make and reflect upon, the more I try not to repeat them. The problem remains in coming to terms with what one has done and trying to make amends when possible. I wouldn’t exactly call that easy and this isn’t what I’d intended on writing about today, but things that happened over the weekend put me in the mindset. If I don’t get it out now, it’ll be lost and it’s important I get this off my chest.
This is going to sound blunt; I’m no one special. I’m just some guy. I’m a son, a husband and I’m continuing to learn how to be a friend. I’m also an author and as an author, probably a bit of an actor. I’m not a recognizable actor, but am an actor of sorts nonetheless. I’m not a celebrity. I’ve never been one of the cool kids. I make mistakes. I make little mistakes. I make horrible mistakes. I’ve gained a little weight over the years. I’m getting older. I don’t like either of those last two items. I’m crabby some of the time. I’m human. And I’m learning.
I picked a friend of mine (Jeff) up Saturday late afternoon on the way out to Lansing to have dinner with J.P. Barnaby since she was in the state for the weekend. I’d heard about Jeff’s partner for many years now, only this was the first time I got the chance to meet him. Sweet guy. Very warm and I can see why he and Jeff are together. They make a lovely couple. When I met his partner, though, he said something along the lines of “After hearing about you and reading some of your work, it feels a little like I’m meeting a celebrity.”
It was a compliment. It was a very nice compliment. It was the furthest thing from the truth in my mind and I know some people who would agree wholeheartedly with me. I guess I don’t need people to knock me down a few pegs because I’ll do it myself. A celebrity is an idealized version of someone. I’m not idealized. I’m not ideal. I’m just…me. I’m not even comfortable when someone, anyone, mentions my having fans. I don’t have fans. As I’ve said before, I have people who read my work and like it or people who read my work and don’t.
I had J.P.—who, btw, is an absolute darling!—sign my copy of her book Aaron. Part of what she wrote inside is “Thank you for making me feel like one of the cool kids.” But, you see, I don’t have to make her feel like one because she is one. For those of you who know J.P., have you ever heard a negative thing about her? I haven’t. We, as authors, all have our niche, our ‘thing’ we’re known for. J.P. is known for hanging out with the beautiful boys and the porn stars. And she does. What makes her so known and loved by these people, however, is that she treats them like the human beings they are. She talks to them, she listens to them, she eats with them, she drinks with them and she watches out for them. That’s who she is and that’s why she’s already one of the cool kids.
Jeff and I were driving back and we were talking about personas, branding etc. and he mentioned my persona as acting like I’m better than everyone else. He did not mean that as an insult nor should it be taken that way. Part of my shtick when it comes to comedy includes my staff and many Karen Walker-like comments I make. I wound up in trouble last week when I tweeted a comment that looking for carpet was a lot like looking for new staff members; you have to able to walk on them. For those who know me, they got the joke. This guy doesn’t and consequently didn’t like the comment.
I’ve also talked about getting upgrades on flights and not having to sit behind the curtain with the little people. Pure author persona and used for comedic purposes. Oh, I get my upgrades from time to time, but the persona runs with the comments.
I’m not better than anyone else. I’m not better than you. I may even in fact be more flawed than you and I’m still paying for those flaws. Best friends are very difficult to come by. Those friendships can take a pounding over the years and be rebuilt, but they can also be destroyed if you’re not careful. I’ve pushed many of mine to the limit, I’ve teased mine beyond any boundary I had a right to and all because I was too arrogant to think it would always still be there.
But I’ve learned. And while I know I can push and tease a little, within reason, within expectation, I don’t dare go beyond anymore. The price for arrogance isn’t worth it. The price of burning a fifteen year friendship to the ground doesn’t make for a pretty scorch mark on one’s soul. I didn’t even have the chance to tell him face to face that I’m sorry. I can only hope to see it as a reminder for why I need to do better, to be better, and remember that every friendship is a blessing, not a toy.
And when possible, do no harm.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
19 Responses to “The Unbearable Lightness of Learned Humility”
Petra Bond says:
May 27, 2013 at 8:32 am
I have recently had a major upheaval in my life and have discovered just how many wonderful friends I have, I have the ones with comforting words but I also have the ones who tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to get on with it – you need both sorts!
Life is an ever changing thing, you could describe it as a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey whimey, but mistakes will be made and the only thing you can do is to accept that as a human being you will make them, and try not to do the same thing again.
Of course if all else fails just retire to your country estate and let the staff deal with the little people 😉
May 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm
I can accept that I’ve made mistakes. What I find unacceptable is not being able to make amends for it or at least discuss the falling out with the party it happened with. I remain hopeful that there may yet be hope, but then I’m an optimist.
May 27, 2013 at 9:33 am
Ah, Kris, you have received a life sentence for the crime of being human, the sentence being compounded by your willingness to accept the guilt.
May 27, 2013 at 10:36 pm
Will we be sharing a cell?
Kiernan Kelly says:
May 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm
You? Pushy and demanding? Nah…
And I am totally jealous that you got to have dinner with J.p. Really, you have at least sent me an appetizer in the mail. 🙂
JP Barnaby says:
May 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm
They popped my sushi cherry. 😉
May 27, 2013 at 10:36 pm
Oooh, she went there.
May 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm
J.p. may be heading out this way again later this year for a weekend of bad movies and awesome food that’s bad for us, too.
Katherine T. says:
May 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm
It is unfortunate that some of life’s lessons come at a great cost to us. The best we can do as human beings is learn from those lessons and try not to make the same mistakes twice.
Friendship is one of those gifts we never really understand how valuable ot is until we’ve lost it. Hopefully it is only once that one will have to experience that loss in order to learn the lesson. True friends are a rare gift and most people are only blessed with it once. Count yourself among the lucky ones who have several. You are richer for it.
And as far as being one of the cool kids——–hell yeah you are. 🙂
May 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm
There are days I almost feel like I’m obsessing about the loss of the friendship. It’s a hole that refuses to fill itself and that makes me realize all the more just what it is I lost. Still, it does make me look after current and new friendships with much more care and appreciate them in better ways.
JP Adkins says:
May 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm
As I said in my post, to the world you are one in billions, to someone you are the world! You are an amazing person with a great heart. We are all human, at least I think we are, to be correct I guess we would have to say humanoid, which means that he have trials and tribulations along with the triumphs. As long as you learn from the mistakes and can celebrate the successes, life is good.
May 27, 2013 at 10:43 pm
I suspect we are going to know each other for a very long time, Jeff. I swear you almost made out with J.P. the other night, though. lol Girl almost got lucky.
JP Barnaby says:
May 27, 2013 at 8:54 pm
I don’t see that in your persona at all. I think the guy behind “Kris”, the one I’ve gotten to know over the last year, is kind and funny and smart. Usually the jokes you make are at your own expense. Sometimes, the veil around them is pretty thick – people don’t see that they’re about you.
And I admire you, Kristoffer Gair. I wouldn’t have asked you for that favor at dinner if I didn’t.
If I can get to it before I leave for Orlando, I have my own blog post coming about that night. Jeff made one, you made one – and now it’s my turn. It will deal with the exercise I had in contrasts – how different it was to be “JP Barnaby” for the Grabbys kick off party and IML, when you and Jeff embraced dorky little Trish and made her feel special. I don’t have to be JP with you – and that is a rare gift for me. <3
May 27, 2013 at 10:48 pm
There are many things I appreciate about you; your belief in the best in people, your optimism, sharing, opening up and in digging beyond the obvious to get to the truth. The caring you have for those close to you shows in your writing, too. It’s the one place we cannot hide.
And I’m glad you don’t try.
May 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm
Thank you for being my friend.
May 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm
You should never feel like you have to say thank you to someone for being a friend, LW. =) You make it easy to want to be a friend. And you always have.
Lloyd songal says:
May 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Hi Kris, it sounds like everything went well In Atlanta & you had a good time I trust. I hope your re-mod is coming along nicely. Sounds as though you are off on a nice jaunt, hopefully with your husband on a well deserved get away honeymoon.
None of us are getting any younger or trimmer. You just have to do what makes you comfortable in your own skin. I have also had some issues with that image ideal. Outside of health concerns which may be addressed; it is was it is. Why do we need to be worried about? On a funny aside;
When Betty Davis was asked what she thought of Joan Crawford’s passing; she replied, “My Mother always said to speak good of the dead”. Joan’s dead; Good!!!
May 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm
Well, Lloyd, I suspect there will be a few people who celebrate one day when I’m gone. Hopefully they’ll simply choke on an hors d’oeuvre.
Pat Nelson says:
May 29, 2013 at 7:30 am
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed spending time with you in Atlanta, and I really appreciate the person behind the persona. =}