Tuesday, November 27, 2012

People Are Funny

I guess one reason I write this blog is because people are so interesting to me. That's probably one of the reasons my wife's and my marriage has been so successful, she also has a real interest in observing and helping people.

I considered following her lead and becoming a Psychotherapist myself; but the truth is I don't have the patience for it. I don't have the patience to put in the long years of education and internship to get a license, and I don't have the patience to slowly lead people into recognizing for themselves why their lives are a mess. I'd rather just tell them why their lives are a mess and kick them in the ass to get them started in a new direction that will put their lives in order.

A Psychotherapist can't do that. He/she has to gently guide patients to identify and choose the right path for themselves. As a blogger, I don't have such limitations. I can and do get pretty blunt in telling people who are unhappy with their lives what they can do to put things right.

I've known my friend Bill Woods for 6 - 7 years. When we met, Bill was a very unhappy man; and unfortunately, he was resigned to being unhappy. He actually planned to spend the rest of his life as an unhappily married homosexual man.

Last August, my wife and I attended his marriage ceremony to his partner John. It was a wonderful ceremony. John is a great guy. He and Bill complement each other's personalities well. John is one of those guys who no one would ever identify as gay. He lives in a small European village where everyone knows he's gay because he chooses for them to know, and the force of his personality makes it a non-issue. Everyone sees him as a friend and neighbor.

Bill is more reserved, but just being with John brings out his wonderful personality and allows him to contribute his own valuable attributes and personality to interactions with John's friends. John's friends are a friendly, rowdy bunch; and they get a lot of fun out of teasing the American. Bill enjoys the hazing.

However, he is quick to say that even now, in the midst of the happiness he never expected, he is still trying to dig my Texas boot out of his ass. I planted it there over and over again throughout the time I've known him. I never tried to take the easy route with Bill. He needed to be pushed and he responded well to being pushed. Now,  he's enjoying the rewards that come from being willing to respond to the push and work for a new life.

Bill is one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately, the majority of people I meet will admit they are not happy. They say they want to start a new life. But the reality is they are not willing to do the work, and they are not willing to make the necessary changes from what has become the norm for them. The reality is, they, like most Americans these days, are risk averse. It is a National epidemic! It is so deeply intrenched in our National psyche that one of the recent presidential candidates actually said in his campaign speeches that people had to vote for him because if they didn't, who was going to take care of them? I was utterly appalled at that line; and I know that my father was spinning in his grave, for he spent a good 18 years of his life pounding into me the understanding that no one was going to take care of me. I had to take care of myself. My father was a Texan who wore boots too. Figuratively speaking, that boot was inserted up my ass many times. His belt across my butt was not figurative at all. It was sometimes a reality.

I didn't much care for my Dad as a kid. Now, I know it is because of him that I am who I am. Most of what I have accomplished in life, I owe to him and my Mom. They made me the realist I am. It is not often easy being a realist in an idealistic world. And part of being an enlightened realist is understanding that the world needs idealists. It is the idealists who dream of how things could be better. But it is always the realists who filter through those idealistic dreams and decide which ones can and should become reality. Trouble comes when we have a deficit of realists and a glut of idealists. Anyone can dream dreams. It takes some real talents to change dreams into reality. In today's America, we definitely have a glut of idealists and idealism and a huge shortage of realists and real solutions to our many problems. The PC (politically correct) Americans hold the reigns of power currently and the country and the world is the worse for that.

I'm a big fan of Country Music. I like it because Country Music is all about the philosophy of life and human relationships. The men and women who write Country Music are adept at shining light on the realities of life. The following song is currently playing on Country stations. It really illustrates a facet of what I'm talking about.

Drinking beer can be lots of fun; but as a lifestyle or a career choice, it's not likely to benefit ones self or anyone else. Yet, people make equivical choices all the time. They take the easy way out. They avoid the more difficult options even though the more difficult options are much more apt to bring greater rewards. People are so funny in that way.

And its the same for bisexual guys and gay guys who are unhappy in their marriages. Even though they are unhappy, the easiest route for them is to stick with the devil they know rather than risk the devil they don't know. People are just funny that way. My best friend is one of the worst I've ever seen. We've been friends half our lives; but where I'm always ready to embrace change for a possible pay-off, he'll do anything possible to avoid change, no matter how great the odds are for a pay-off.

I think a lot of married guys fail to realize that if they are unhappy in their marriage the reality is that their wives are unhappy too. In reality he would more than likely be doing her a favor to allow her the chance to start over again. More than likely she is sticking it out because she is risk averse too.

I look back on my life and wonder that I ever grew up. Risk was a part of my daily life. The country side around me was dotted with pump jacks and rod lines as well as the generator stations which made them all work. Riding pump jacks, walking rod lines and sneaking into the generator stations was an almost daily thing for us. If we couldn't get into anything close to home we'd jump on our horses and ride down to the river or some other inviting nuisance (dangerous but appealing thing) that is always so magmetic to young boys.

We didn't wear seat belts in the car. We didn't wear bike helmets. We didn't wear knee pads or any other protective gear. Did we get hurt? Of course! I almost cut off my left hand in one escapade. My brother did manage to scalp himself in another. Broken arms and legs and noses were common place, but that was expected from active boys. Most of us survived.

I feel sorry for my grandson. He's not allowed off his street at an age when I was roaming for miles and miles when I was a kid. Yes there is great risk, but there is also often great reward for a boy in taking risks. True, sometimes the risk wins out and he faces the consequences. But I'm afraid we are teaching many of our young kids that risk is to be avoided at all costs. These risk averse kids grow up to risk averse adults. It is changing what it means to be an American. American exists because our forefathers risked everything they had including their lives and their fortunes for the betterment of the country.

Many of the things which have made my life so successful came to me at great risk. Without the risk, I would not be who I am or where I am today. Even now, years later, looking back some of the risks I took scares the shit out of me. Truth be told they scare me now more than they did at the time because I'm older and wiser and better appreciate the potential loss in the risk.

However, as an older man in the final chapter of life, I also know that we only have this one life and to live it unhappily when happiness could be won is tragic. Happiness is such a grand thing. Happiness is something every person should know in his or her life, but happiness will never come without risk. In fact few good things come without risk.

Increasingly, we live in a country divided into two classes, the haves and the have nots. The have nots increasingly resent those who have. They often feel life is cheating them out of the good things of life which should be theirs. They fail to recognize that the people who "have it all or a great part of it" faced great risk to gain what they have. They fail to realize that success can never be granted. It always has to be achieved and the achieving comes with risk.

So it is for those  of us who are gay or bisexual and married. There is no easy road for us. There is only a risky road. I would never flat out tell a guy that he had to out himself to his family and start over. That has to be a very personal decision. What I do tell guys all the time is that happiness will never come without risk. Each guy has to carefully calculate the risk for himself and know when to take on the risk. And risk does not usually demand only one course of action. I know guys who came to realize they needed out of their marriages. I know more guys like myself who felt they just needed some time for themselves within their successful marriages. I know of several other paths involving risk that have worked for other guys. I know of no one who has found fulfillment in their lives without risk.

But people are funny. Sometimes they miscalculate the risk on purpose as an excuse to stand still. I talk to guys all the time who are not particularly religious. They smoke, get drunk, lie, cheat on their taxes, break the speed limit when they drive and get into other vices which are are sins in the eyes of the church. Yet when it comes to acting on their bisexuality, they suddenly are staunchly religious. That makes no sense from a practical standpoint and it is  a perversion of Protestant Christian religious dogma which holds that all sin is equal, not some great and some small.

The funny thing is that society is funny too. A great American recently admitted to an affair. He put himself out before the people for judgement. The funny thing is, most of the people judging him have more than likely had their own unadmitted affairs. In many parts of the world mistresses and affairs are a part of life, always have been, always will be.

In America, realists like myself know the same is true here. The idealist know it too, they just don't admit it. It's such a funny thing.

The only thing I'm saying here is that life is too short for chronic misery. Figure out what will make you happy and go for it. You'll face some risk. You may even face a bit of added misery, but in the end you at least have a chance at grabbing the brass ring. Many who have tried have succeeded. Not a single one who hasn't tried has ever succeeded in grabbing that brass ring.

Jack Scott


  1. Jack - Are Americans really more risk adverse now than they were 50 or 60 years ago? They're certainly more concerned about personal safety but that's not really the same thing.

    I think it's human nature to be risk adverse. 80% of the population feels more comfortable not taking chances while 20% believe risk can be handsomely rewarded.

    In the case of men who are attracted to men and who are in a committed relationship with a woman, conventional thinking is that it's better to be "safe than sorry" and keep your secret to yourself. But unlike so many other 'risky' decisions in life, the decision to be honest with your partner is overwhelmingly likely to have a good outcome. Women want honest partners. They'd MUCH rather have an honest marriage than a stable, deceitful one. And many women are willing to embrace their man's sexuality. True honesty pulls people together which means that disclosure has the very real potential to strengthen a relationship rather than destroy it. Really, when all the possible outcomes are considered, the risk of being MORE unhappy in the long-run because you've been honest is close to zero. But no one thinks that way. Instead we'd rather live in fear.

    Thanks for another terrific post!

    1. Two Lives, as always, you raise relevant questions. I confess I made no attempt to look up statistical data on change in risk averse behavior in Americans over the last 65 years, but in the 65 years that I have lived my own observation indicates that Americans have become much more risk averse.

      It seems to me that as we live longer and longer we become more and more intent on avoiding anything that could be risky. Not only do we often avoid risk to our health or our lives, but we seem to seek more and more to avoid risk to our financial portfolios and also risks to the status quo of our lives.

      Perhaps my observations have been skewed having spent my career in the medical field around so many different types of medical personnel. The general public has little idea that people in the medical professions are among the biggest risk takers in society. Perhaps the profession itself attracts, even demands, the Type A personality, the person who is willing to risk instantly on the chance to save a life. But this behavior is not limited to their professional lives. It carries over into their private lives as well. I have witnessed it first hand for many years.

      Then too, there is the possibility as a risk taker myself, I consciously and/or subconsciously surround myself with other risk takers in both my professional and private lives.

      As I mentioned in my blog, my best friend of over 30 years is absolutely averse to risk or change. He confounds the crap out of me to the point that sometimes I just want to grab him by the neck and shake some sense into him. Though we are the best of long term friends, I simply do not understand him.

      As for bisexual men in committed relationships with a woman, I understand that it is often perceived that one is better off "safe than sorry." I'm not sure I agree at all though that such a man's wife is "overwhelmingly" likely to have a good response to his coming out to her because she respects his honesty.

      In this situation, I am very much aware of the statistics. My wife, as a Psychotherapist, who deals mostly with marriage counseling deals with this issue frequently. The facts are that a man coming clean with his wife about a sexual interest in men usually sets the couple on the path to divorce. Two to three years post coming out, the majority of such marriages fail.

      That is not to say there are not exceptions. I have three personal friends who have come out to their wives in the last six years. In each of these cases the wife was more than willing to stay in the marriage. It was the male partners who decided they wanted out.

      Yet, I myself, am a perfect example of your contention that women can embrace their husband's bisexuality. My wife did just that! However, I've always asked myself if that would have happened had she not been well educated and a practicing Psychotherapist. If she were the average American wife would she have reacted in the same way?

      (See Part Two Below)

    2. (Part Two, See Part One Above)

      In the case of the three friends I mentioned above their wives needed them financially. I have always factored that into my perceptions concerning why they were willing to stay in the marriage.

      On the other hand, my wife does not need me financially. She is financially independent, yet she wanted to stay.

      It all certainly confirms that it is not a simple situation to assess and there are so many variables involved that each case is somewhat unique.

      In the end, I agree with your statement that "… when all the possible outcomes are considered, the risk of being MORE unhappy in the long-run because you've been honest is close to zero." But I agree for a different reason. Honesty is usually a good thing, but like anything else in life, there are at least two sides to honesty. It can be healing and restoring. But it can also be cutting and destructive.

      I think the risk to find some way to be true to one's self is worth the risk because resisting something with the driving force of one's sexuality precludes one from having a happy life.

      Heterosexual people put down non heterosexuals by saying the are degenerates and weak. They suggest if one is not straight they should just ignore their desires. They never ask themselves if they could ignore their own heterosexual desires should someone decide that all sexual desires are degenerate.

      I just think that there are degrees of risk and that there is more than one way to meet one's needs. Telling her is one. Doing what one has to do to be happy, doing it quietly and discreetly is another. I have done it both ways. Each was successful. Each had positive and negative side effects. Ultimately, even though being discreet was effective, I chose to tell.

      My main point is that every guy, for his own peace, should give a great deal of thought to the level of risk he can tolerate and act accordingly.

      Thanks for your comment Two Lives. I really appreciate such comments because they make me think harder.

      Jack Scott

  2. Jack - We could have a very long discussion about this! However, I believe we agree much more than we disagree.

    I have an upcoming post that will back up my claim that "the decision to be honest with your partner is overwhelmingly likely to have a good outcome." Since you don't particularly agree with that idea, your take will be very interesting.

    It's going to be a few weeks before I publish the post but I'm mentioning it now because it directly relates to what you've said above.

    Thanks, as always, for your thought-provoking posts.


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott