Some of us spend our whole lives putting them on only to find at the end of things we never saw what’s true because we couldn’t see through everything we piled on ourselves. Or what we saw was too skewed to perceive reality. Some layers are coping mechanisms, when we’re children for instance. We don’t want to get in trouble so we show polite faces to grown ups and appear agreeable even when it isn’t what we want. Sometimes these mechanisms are unhealthy like when we should be protecting ourselves but in order to prevent someone else’s anger we pretend. Or we use them to manipulate.

I was never very good at this and the older I get the more outspoken and tactless I seem to be. Well maybe not completely tactless, I do care about not hurting others’ feelings, but sometimes my outspokenness gets me into trouble. It happened at work once when a coworker who loved to boss people around (with no authority to do so) got her hooks in me once too many times and I sling-shotted back. That resulted in a session with our supervisor and, even though we smiled and shook hands and she said apology accepted, I received the cold-shoulder from this woman for the duration of my tenure at this particular workplace.

This kind of thing serves no useful purpose in my mind. Had it been me I would have found some level on which to function with her, not shut her out. All that did was feed the gossip and rumor mills about both of us, our competence or lack thereof and immaturity. It escalated the problem and created an obstructive distraction for others in the department.

It was only at a memorial dinner for my father that she, now long since a former coworker, and whose husband had been a close personal friend of Dad’s, chose to erase the memory. Once more, when greeting her at the dinner I spoke of how sad I was because of my outburst and how inappropriate I knew it to have been and thanked her for joining her husband to honor my dad. She pooh-poohed my concerns leaving me rebuffed yet again.

Well, I did feel some better. I may not completely forget things but I have never been one to hold a grudge. Life can’t happen spontaneously or naturally for those who do I would imagine. You’d keep having to work and rework around that grudge to fan its flames. Which makes one’s life pretty cumbersome and unbalanced. Not to mention hard to keep track of all those subplots.

Too much work.

I guess it’s easy to pontificate now that I am retired. I have peeled off all the work-related layers, those that I chose to carry while I worked. This may well be why I relish being alone, but so far most others I meet, even those retired as I am seem to choose to stay in their costumes, removing and applying them as they see fit to pursue their self-imposed carnival or theater. It must be absolutely exhausting for them!

Not me. Like I said, too much work.


4 thoughts on “Layers

  1. I enjoyed reading your very honest post. I really like the analogy of layers as costumes to put on in a “self-imposed carnival or theater”. This post can truly read as a motivator for people to drop all those layers.

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