Appropriate/Inappropriate, ever been accused?
Surely you have, it’s not just me is it? Well even if you haven’t, maybe you’ve wondered to yourself, “Is this the way I should be reacting?”
I’m going to veer away from art, just for a second, because sometimes life pops up between the paintings. I know that’s not the way we planned it, or what we wanted, but sometimes things don’t always go the way we like.
There are a lot of times and places where I myself wonder “is this how I should be acting”… what do you when you are just driving along, doing everything just right and a police car pulls next to you at a stop light? Do you think he has that “school record” the vice principal always threatened you with? Do you look at him and smile or just stare straight ahead like he’s not really there? How about you are standing in a checkout line right behind the Mom with the out-of-control child that totally ignores the fact that they just keep pulling things off the shelf and dropping them on the floor in front of you. Don’t you just want to say something to the child, to the Mom, to the Manager?
But is it appropriate?
My biggest one is when a tragedy happens, what do you say? How do you act? Do you avoid talking to them, steer away from them hoping they didn’t notice that you saw them, avoid them so you don’t have to think of the right thing to say? And when you do confront them, what in the world do you say without it sounding “cliche?”
I myself am of the school that it’s better to say the wrong thing than nothing at all. If you know me, you probably know that I am notorious for saying the wrong thing… hopefully at the “right time!”
Here’s a tough one, how about catastrophic loss, what do you do? What do you expect others to do?
Where do we learn these rules of etiquette on appropriate behavior? How about from our teachers, Kindergarten to 12th grade? More likely it’s through your families, your peers, your community, and on the electronic airwaves.
I have been pretty darn fortunate in my life that I have not had to go through too much death. My girlfriend died while I was in the service which was pretty tough, and the military didn’t see a teenagers girlfriend as reason enough for leave. So that was handled remotely. I’ve not seen a guide around on how to act when it’s you that looses a partner, a parent or a child. It’s just straight greif from your heart and soul. There is no right or wrong way to greive I’ve found. It just happens, and there’s no way to stop it when it does come, so don’t even try.
I recently experienced a bit of this myself, and my wonderful wife I guess recognized that I needed to get out and suggested I go out to paint when my Mother died. Oh she could read my mind, I tried to tell her thanks and I’d be back soon, but the words kind of choked up in me.
I drove and I drove looking for the right thing to paint. I was looking for a small Kansas farmstead, one like my Mothers, with a barn and a silo, lots of outbuildings. I drove farther still and could not find what I was looking for. I was caught North of the Kansas border with a different type of farming is done. No silos in site, but driving down country roads was a good release for me, still I wanted to, I needed to paint! I stopped at the intersection of a minimum maintenance road and the gravel road I was on and pulled out my gear to paint. The subject matter anymore was really not the important thing, it was the act of painting, the process, the routine of it all. Observing and recording. The calming ritual was needed.
Art I have found is very therapeutic.
I grew up in a family where men don’t cry, hell (whoops, I mean “heck”) I don’t remember my Mom ever crying but a couple times in the 56 years I’ve been around. I know we gave her plenty a reason to in my teens, but she was a rock, and taught us to be, I think.
How about hugging your old man at your Mom’s funeral? I don’t remember hugging my Dad, it’s one of those cowboy guy things (old time cowboy, not now-a-time cowboy… big difference) you don’t do it, though I know as a kid when he came home from work once a week (he was an over-the-road trucker) that all the kids would rush out jump all over him and hug him. Must have been “pre-teen” because I know I haven’t hugged him for probably almost 45 years, though believe it or not, we are close.
Just didn’t seem appropriate.
But now-a-days guys are giving guys hugs all the time, (man-hugs of course, totally different that other hugs) is it time to change what I do? I thought about that on the day of the funeral, do I hug my Dad, I know I probably could have used it, maybe he could too! Well I kind of broke that barrier a bit when I put my arm around him and gave him a little shake letting him know I was here if he needed.
Seemed kind of appropriate.
Timing should be essential to whether something is appropriate or inappropriate, and having the right timing is an art in itself… something I’ve never been accused of having. I am somewhat notorious for flippant, off-the-wall comments, always from somewhere out in left field. Always in the best intent of course, with no harm intended, but not everyone knows that.
What is ruled as appropriate or inappropriate behavior could be largely due to your generation, or demographics, or like I said timing… because saying the wrong thing at the right time is okay.