Monday, January 10, 2011

Labels Are Labels, But Let’s Get Real

I’m aware that some labels are perceived to be negative and therefore, some wish to avoid them at all costs, but the reality is that some labels merely give the communicator a means to describe the person in question.

For example: The Latino man walked out of the bank.
For example: The Black man stole the bike.
For example: He is bisexual, but prefers to date women.

Now, we can argue until we turn blue in the face and chances are that the labels used to define us would still exist. Is it necessary to use these defining labels in all our communication? Probably not, but sometimes it is necessary to give our reader or listener the ability to get a picture of who we’re talking about or the perceived motivation(s) for someone’s actions.

Years ago, I was amazed to hear a story about men in the Dominican Republic that slept with men for cash – tourists specifically – but they identified as straight and usually returned to their wife and children at the end of their “work day”. It kind-of made me think of a woman who stands on the street corner, sells her body for cash, but doesn’t identify as a prostitute. Does how we identify change the true label of what we are? Does it matter that we may not care for the label associated with who we are or our behavior?

It’s 2011 and labels and check boxes are a bit outdated, but they still serve as a means to define people, situations, preferences, etc. What needs to change FIRST is our associating labels with anything negative and just seeing them as a means to have a clearer vision or picture of the world around us.

So now when you see a statement such as, “The gay man suddenly felt an attraction for his housekeeper,” you should simply get a picture of who we’re talking about, why the story is relevant and how the subjects of our sentence came to know each other. Although I suspect that until we learn to stop judging, we’ll have folks looking at the labels as a means to draw conclusions based on negative perceptions for certain labels.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, January 03, 2011

You’re Never Too Old for Mom’s Wisdom

One of the greatest blessings in my life is still having my mom around to chat-it-up with and get real and true tidbits of wisdom and advice on everything from preventing my rice from sticking to appreciating my relationship – long term. The truth is that for all the hell we may have given our parents growing up, we quickly realize that they may have been trying to make our lives a little better than their own. Every day, like clockwork, my mom and I get on the phone and talk about all things that are happening – including the folks in our circles. This morning I was talking to mom about her new Facebook friends – and yes, it’s quite GREAT to listen to how happy she is to connect with folks via Facebook! The conversation turned to folks who appeared so happy in love and marriage in the past and are now contemplating divorce. My mom simply said, “Some folks can’t just be happy. They have to have drama and constant activity to make them feel that their relationship is exciting and new.” I thought about those statements long after we hung up. The reality is that for those of us in long term relationships, it may sometimes feel like it can get old, routine or boring. We know our partners and what makes things work. We trudge along like hamsters on our little wheels. Then, for some God forsaken reason, some folks think that some new person is much more exciting, fun, daring….just an all-around better match for their lives. It’s like the analogy of the old shoe. You give up those comfy pair of Hush Puppies for those Balenciaga pumps only to find out that they aren’t as much fun when you have to walk in them all day, every day. That’s really how relationships are. New folks will always seem like such a fun, adrenaline-packed change to the routine that our lives have become, but as we say in Spanish, “Hasta la belleza cansa.” That new “piece” will be as hum-drum as you may have categorized your partner when you are forced to endure them day-in-and-day-out. Rather, my mom pointed out, we should take comfort in the routine we’ve established with our partners. Add in the spice at will, but appreciate that there is no drama in your home. Understand that a fire that burns slow and steady will warm you, but a flame that burns feverishly will most assuredly burn itself out and everything in its wake. Mom has the wisdom of her years and her years in a very long term relationship to speak some truth. The key is being able to take it in and live her triumphs while avoiding her heartaches. I guess that’s why I’m never too old for my mom’s wisdom.

Keep passin’ the open windows…