The Beauty of Thorns

Thorns protect roses from those that would feed on them.

To many, the most dangerous and to a few, the most important kind of person, is the one who thinks critically. Dangerous because such a person is difficult to control or manipulate with rhetoric or specious explanations. Important, for the same reasons. These people are a counter-weight to the sycophants and a threat to the powerful. The lenses through which they see this reality are cut from a different type of glass; they perceive what others only see.

Thinking critically, however, is difficult work and many times, annoying to others. One of the most annoying tools of critical thinking is questioning what others accept as true. Challenging norms or convention often leads to being criticized for asking, “Why?” or “How can that be true, if this is true?” The more cherished a belief or the more popular it is, the more irritating any challenge to its acceptance. But critical thinkers do not challenge just to be contrary; they seek to be enlightened.

When not being an irritant, a critical thinker is often considered “weird” because she/he will often ponder what others never even consider. For example, “Why is there such a thing as beauty?” or “Why is the universe so vast?” “Why are all polar bears left-handed?” “Are there other infinities besides space, time and numbers?” “If there is such a thing as free will, then why is there such a thing [given the state of human affairs] vis a vis the fact that other animals, from which many believe we evolved, act mostly on instinct?”

If only I could be such a paragon; I live to be one of them. They are the thorns of society without which its rose would easily be devoured and any beauty lost.

Published in: on April 14, 2015 at 11:36 PM  Comments (1)  
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Limitations and Friendships

I once visited my oldest cousin and as the conversation moved from one subject to another, he casually stated, “I would kill for you … but I wouldn’t expect you to do the same for me.” I never thought much about that statement until decades later. Implicit in that statement was that my cousin recognized and respected my limitations. He never tried to change me; he accepted my limitations as easily and as readily as he accepted his own proclivities toward violence. Later, I embraced that lesson as a fundamental component of being a friend.

The reggae singer, Bob Marley, asserted, “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” My sentiments might be classified as a corollary to that statement: You will disappoint others and others will disappoint you; but never disappoint yourself. In short, it is others’ limitations that often result in one being “hurt” or disappointed — unless you learn to accept that that is the way life spins. You should know your limitations and know them honestly and thoroughly. More importantly, however, you should pay close attention so as to know the limitations of others, especially of friends or others that occupy your space.

Limitations are part and parcel of being human — part and parcel of a person’s identity and thus, they also define friendships. Friends accept or adjust to each others’ limitations. This being so, consciously or unconsciously, we know that people are not likely to erase or redraw the lines that mark their limitations. We also know or feel that to express a dislike for a person’s limitations may rock the boat resulting in sinking the friendship — or, at best, stabilizing it.

After reflecting on the various friendships/relationships I have/had, I realize that my limitations have created problems for others — and vice versa. Sometimes you end up being the better friend or not. Friendships are rarely symmetrical; sometimes you give more and sometimes you give less but almost never the same amount.

Another way to think of friendships is that they are like roses. If the rose is not worth the thorns, then don’t pick it; otherwise, enjoy the scent as blood drips to the floor.

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 12:04 AM  Leave a Comment  
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