Wednesday, June 7, 2023


I'm a gambler.

This week, an old friend of mine, who didn't have a depressive bone in his body, threw himself in front of a train. I understood why he did it (it was this). But that's not my topic today. I’m here to confess that I did a horrendous and shameful thing. I sent an email to his widow outlining my thinking. This was - let me choose terms carefully - "Audacious"? "Atrocious"?

It illustrates why some people think I lean towards the Asperger/Austism spectrum. It goes almost without saying that I’ve been obliviously un-empathic. What sort of shithead peppers a grieving widow with his breathless "theories"?

But there was nothing oblivious about it. Nothing impulsive or thoughtless. I'm self-aware, and fully understood that my gesture might fail to click. If so, I'd have sparked a burst of antipathy (excruciating for me, but surely not day-wrecking for her). Fun fact: I actually do not enjoy upsetting grieving widows. Or losing relationships. Though I’ve lost more friends than I can count because I'm willing to take hits on the slim chance I might substantially help. I don’t lack for empathy, but the "seeming" versus "being" distinction has already discussed to death here. True, deep empathy can superficially resemble a lack of same.

But, again, sometimes it helps. Sometimes a lot, though the other person has no way of knowing this history, leaving my motives opaque. And the potential benefit (for them) of helping someone in extremis vastly outweighs the social risk (for me). 

FWIW, this time it worked:
I am so grateful you reached out. I don’t have time to write much more but I just wanted to tell you that your insightful ideas gave me a large amount of clarity.
I'm not here to boast. I'm focused on the gamble, not the outcome. For the opportunity to provide a devastated, bewildered widow with even a small amount of clarity, I'm willing to be punched in the mouth a bunch of times. I don't have many teeth left at this point. My face is like a smashed cauliflower. But sometimes it I deem it worth it. Fool that I am.

I haven't raised the issue of whether my thoughts are usually right or not. But they are. I'd never send banal bullshit. I do know the difference, and I think long and hard (and self-skeptically!) to decide whether I'm offering substantial nutritional value, and not just some clever blah-blah-blah. I'm really not, as it happens, an oblivious asshole. So the issue here isn't rightness. It's appropriateness. And helpfulness. I'd much rather be helpful than appropriate, so I’ll take my lumps and likely be deemed an asshole on the chance that I might be of service. I am, in other words, a gambler.

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