I was asked a question this past week by a person who somehow seems to cross my life's orbit once every 15 years or so and I have to admit for a few moments I could hear the cylinders clicking above my eye brows, but nothing was coming up on my inner-response screen.
More ignorant (as in not knowing) than anything approaching mean-spirited, the question on its own seemed fairly innocuous.
Question: how can I still stand it here? The query was gleefully cartwheeling its way around my inner sanctum of personal thoughts and beliefs with reckless abandon and the best retort my memory banks – almost six decades worth of knowledge, experience and pop trivia – could come up with was does not compute?
What do you mean by that? That was my comeback of the ages to her. Geesh.
After I finally managed to wiggle myself out of what had suddenly, and rather inexplicably, become an uncomfortable situation, I did what writers all over the world do from time to time – I analyzed what had just happened to near death and beat myself up mercilessly for my lack of an intelligent response.
Then it was time to figure out just what the heck my problem is.
The fact of the matter is that it was not my problem at all.
And there, for a fleeting second, uncovered for all to see, was my main weakness in my never-ending quest to just get along with the human race.
In a nutshell, I was made to feel damn guilty about not having an emotional stake, for not having any use for labels, for not being able to play a game I don't truly understand, for not wanting to pick any particular side because I honestly don't see anyone on my side.
In short, I was manipulated into feeling bad about the fact that I'm fairly comfortable in my own skin.
My world revolves around making it successfully to the next pay cheque, listening to as much rock and roll as a person can viably absorb, speaking when I know of what I speak of and keeping my lips firmly clenched when I don't.
Love has not been overly kind to me, but I'm certainly not alone in that regard. And the only true faith I've even known is the inner-knowledge that when someone pulls the winning ticket in any type of draw, it's not going to be mine.
And I can honestly say, I've never been self-absorbed enough to think for one split second that I was going to figure out the meaning of it all during my lifetime.
I still enjoy my job, love the local hockey scene and continue to love living in Rankin Inlet. Geesh. It's my home.
It bothers me to no end that so many people seem to think I'm missing something. I find the people in Rankin, and across the Kivalliq for that matter, to be, for the most part, the same as folks anywhere else I've lived. Are there cultural differences? Of course, but if you don't make me eat those tuktu eyeballs, I won't make you swallow haggis until your ears spew steam.
Sounds fair enough to me.
It's not about being holier-than-thou or a better person than someone else. It's refusing to find problems between people where none exist. It's seeing pettiness for the bore it truly is and recognizing hatred as a game nobody wins, and simply refusing to play.
And, above all else, it's not about tolerance. It's about acceptance. I can honestly say in almost 20 years in Rankin Inlet nobody has ever got on my case for my quirkiness.
And, who knows, when next she crosses my orbit in 2033, maybe there will be something about my life in Rankin that I just can't stand.
But, for now, I'm pretty glad I don't really understand the question. Damn glad, actually.