londontown times: or, things you should know about from england (that's a lie, there is only one thing about england)

London was a fun time, and there is really only one thing that I learned that I feel I absolutely must let you know about, dear readers:

Brits, even drunk Brits asking strangers about what the hell the point is of Angry Birds anyways, and why don't we all talk more and Londoners are too successful and that's why they have no sense of community, still sound more refined than Americans, even sober ones who are being very polite.

In other news, a friend of mine from high school who I haven't seen or talked to in far too long has a pretty interesting blog where she writes about her life in the same amazing voice she employed in our lit mag exercises. (Just a heads up to my more atheistic readers: she does talk a little bit about her religion on occasion. I know, you are shocked, I associate with religious people! Here is the big reveal: they are pretty much exactly like irreligious people! Oh my goodness! Fetch me my smelling salts, I think I have the vapors! [ie, keep your judgment hats away from your open minds, o would-be haters.])

That parenthetical aside reminds me! I had a long discussion with my father over dinner last night that launched from the Occupy movement (the movement he claims is doing nothing, yet has started at least a dozen conversations in my immediate family alone). As these conversations will do, it went from privileged youth to the threat of communism in the 50s to what evil means.

I expounded on this point, about evil, about villainizing your opponents, about propaganda, and at some point, I started to say - "you have to - " and then I stopped, sighed, laughed at myself, and said, "you have to make the political personal," and then shook my head and rued the existence of buzzwords. 

Despite what my best friend thinks, about me being far too nice and liking people I damn well shouldn't because who likes that guy anyway and I give people way too much credit, I've been trying recently to think more. I was trying to think of an elegant way to phrase this, but there's not one. I realized that I was making a lot of weird judgments on people based on things I was assuming, and I don't think I'm the only person who has ever done this, or that I am particularly worse than anybody about it, but I have been (and maybe still am) worse than a lot of people at not letting things slide, about being superior, about correcting people over any tiny point that I think (whether correctly or not) is wrong. 

So I've been making an effort to consider things from as many sides as I can. It's tiring and a lot of times I catch myself thinking "but this is just RIDICULOUS" when I try to think about things from some of the viewpoints that are, uh, further from my natural one. I feel like it's a good thing to do, though, and has certainly put my ego in check a little bit.

Almost as much as an 8-year old Finn yelling, "SPEAK ENGLISH!" and his classmates bursting out laughing when I was struggling through an explanation of archery safety tips. That was definitely in my top three most embarrassing/humbling moments.

Point: I think everybody should take a week where they pause and try, really try, to consider things from other viewpoints. Not just the ones that are completely opposite to their own, but also the ones that are own-adjacent, as in, for instance, what the other people in your subway car are thinking about. I guess that is what is meant when people say things about living an "examined life." 

Oh, and a tip from my therapist: if you are in a situation where you are embarrassed or ashamed or something, it's a really good idea to step back for a second and think about where that embarrassment or shame is coming from. Is it from your rational, current-age brain, or is it your emotionally crippled seventh grade self who is screaming, "NOBODY WILL EVER LIKE YOU AGAIN BECAUSE THOSE PANTS ARE STUPID! THEY ARE STUPID AND EVERYONE HATES YOU!" Seventh grade selves tend to be kind of insane and very judgy little jerks. Don't listen to them.