Thursday, December 20, 2007

Truth of mood

Back when we were in grad school, my friend Jane said I was very “truth of mood.” She said this factually, not critically, in the same way that one might remark that someone has on a bright red sweater, or that it’s chilly out.

When I asked what she meant, she said the following. That I mean what I say, absolutely and completely, when I’m saying it. It might contrast starkly with my opinion of the same thing tomorrow, and I will mean what I say tomorrow just as fervently. In the moment, in the mood, it's absolutely true.

I cannot even remember what provoked the observation. Since we were in school, it was probably some diatribe on the loathsomeness of theoretical syntax, when the day before I’d thought it was the most interesting thing ever. Who knows?

She’d just read E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, which is where she was introduced to the phrase and the concept. I’d read the book years prior, but hadn’t been struck by that particular idea.

Once she pointed it out, however, I realized she was exactly right. I think I'd always been like this, and truthfully, even now, I can't really imagine being entirely otherwise. Life shifts constantly. How can you not shift along with it?

This isn’t something I’ve thought about in years. But I got a comment on a recent post, saying it contrasted starkly with a prior post – so starkly that it could’ve been written by a different person. And it didn’t surprise me. What it did was this: it got me thinking that I’m sure I contradict myself all over the place. It’s just that here there’s a written, open record of it.

I’ve become a more consistent person in the years since Jane pointed that out. I used to be significantly more capricious, more impetuous, more up and down. I know it was hard for people close to me, sometimes, particularly the very literal ones, or the ones that were close enough to be very affected by my mood or mind-changing.

For those who didn’t have distance or the temperament to be like, “OK, so today is an orange day, and tomorrow will be all about fuchsia” – and still remain on an even keel, or even appreciate the variety, well, I was a challenge.

There have been people who have seen it as part of my charm, as Jane did. And people who got irritated by my inconsistencies. The latter were mainly men. Who wanted me to do things like commit firmly, two weeks in advance, to going out on Friday, when, who knows two Fridays in advance if you’re going to feel like it that night? “Potentially,” was my response to most ahead of time plans. And for the planny among us, that’s irritating.

But as I said, I’m more consistent, better at planning in advance, and less contradictory with my feelings, at least with regard to other people. But LG is me, downloading, brain and heart to keyboard. And clearly internally, I am still very truth of mood.

Now I think it’s probably more about different pieces of personality coming out when faced with different situations and ideas. Especially when you’re talking about emotion, in which case triggers are everything.

Faced with one trigger or another, you’re going to react differently, even if you’re talking about the same thing. One situation will evoke fear, while another pulls up anger or sorrow. Or make you laugh. Whatever it is, it won't be the exact same on any given day. I don't think.

I believe we’re all comprised of so many layers of hope, scars, love, loss, wishes, gifts, etc. And woven in with those are fragments of reaction to other people – their kindness, unkindness, dreams and rejections – basically any interaction we’ve ever had with anyone who provoked any strong emotion.


  1. I liked this post ... I think people who lock themselves into certain personalities or attitudes or beliefs are limiting their growth. One of the qualities I admire most in people is a continued ability to learn, and enthusiasm for that. It leads to inconsistencies, perhaps, but when change is because you're living life instead of passing through, that's nothing to worry about.

  2. Since you change your mind daily, I'm hoping that you'll retract what you said about Ingrid Michaelson and decide that you have a girl crush on her. She's got a sexy librarian thing going on too, so the thought of you and her going at it is reaaaaallly hawt. The only thing hotter than a sexy librarian is two sexy librarians in some girl/girl action...jus' sayin.

    What were we talking about again?

  3. This is very, very, very much true for me. And I know it makes me a challenge to deal with. But I think it also makes very real.

  4. TBB - Thank you. That's a really nice, substantial, thoughtful comment.

    HIN - It's not that I don't think she's hot, it's that I think her rhymes are too simple. But thanks for the double librarian fantasies.

    SE - I think that's a good point. I'm sure it does make you very real.

  5. I do what I can. =)

    I've totally been lurking, I'm getting back in a comment flow. Promise.

  6. Changing your mind (and even hypocrisy) are perfectly normal, and even arguably healthy, things... The real key though is in realizing when you're doing so. If you don't realize - and admit if the situation calls for it - that you're changing your mind and/or being hypocritical, then you lose credibility.

  7. Great post. Unfortunately, this means you're no longer DT's soul twin, but have apparently become mine.

    She will agree, I'm sure.

  8. Great analysis of human nature! Seriously, I can't fathom being a person who never shifts, never changes.

    But then, I have commitment issues and suck as a planner. Heck, I hate to commit to something in the a.m. for something later that day because I'll change my mind ten times before the appointed time.

  9. I have to admit, I share similar characteristics. I'm always fervent regarding what I'm speaking about but somehow or another I've completely contradicted myself on several occasions. I figure it like this, I'm human and I have every right to change my mind whenever I want. Yes.

  10. Life shifts constantly. How can you not shift along with it?

    Absolutely! If most people read my earliest posts from nearly 4 years ago they probably don't believe my posts today are written by the same person. (Which I'm sure is horrifying to those who loved my point of view back then and smugly satisfying to those who disagreed. Of course, none of them had anything to do with it. The change has been within.)

    But isn't that growth? If you don't change then you don't grow, and if you don't grow you don't change. Hopefully the change is to become wiser as you become older.

  11. I love the last 2-3 paragraphs. This is beautifully written!


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