June 1, 2024: Charm and Harm; Interesting and Intimate

Charm is always genuine; it may be superficial but it isn’t false.  P.D. James

His smile is infectious. But again, so was the plague. Karina Halle

Charm can lead to harm and harming can lead to charming, but that does not mean interesting or intimate. Hoo-nōs

Life is most interesting, death is most intimate, but when the two interact the result is both interesting and intimate. While the terms and the manifestations of “interesting” and “intimate” as well as “life” and death” are as diverse as life is on this planet, a failure to thrive seems to be nested in the spectrum of fear, including both realistic and neurotic fear. There are many ways to keep such fear at bay, but constant fear can impede the ability to thrive.

Some Background: Two such “mechanisms” that keep fear at bay and thriving in hibernation are charm and harm.  Both charm and harm can involve at least two states: self-charm or self-harm and deceiving charm or deserved harm.

Charm can be disarming; it’s like being waylaid, but feeling good about it—if one is even aware that charm is in the air. Self-charm can be narcissistic, whereas self-harm can be a perceived need for self-punishment.  Deceiving charm is like enticing another off their path, whereas “deserved” harm is like applauding when the bad folks get their comeuppance.

So, two more demons to add to the list?  Or can both charm and harm have a positive facet?  Both self-charm and charming others can be positive if one is conscious of the contortions—like watching a well-done circus act.  Both self-harm and harming others can be a positive if one is conscious of the trespass and changes course.  Deceiving charm is the ruse of grifters, deserved harm is payback.

Practically Speaking:  As closing off is a tough way to open up, so is seeking intimacy via constant comparisons to an ideal (a shifting and shifty ideal to boot).  Even assuming one is conscious of the forces at play, “finding” (discovering) as opposed to “funding” (making it happen) a genuinely shared life and death experience is daunting.  It’s like trying to keep up with a dynamically changing lock and key mechanism.  I’ve seen a few good examples in my life, but for my attempts and those who attempted intimacy with me, it was 1) A bad ratio of chaos to intimacy. 2) The charm was in those rare, but truly intimate moments, the harm was in the mostly “blame and game” shtick.  There was no way to dock with the key and lock. 3) When life is quieter and less chaotic alone than together, better to be alone. 4) Being alone is not the same as being lonely and learning to be alone (no one is truly alone) can be far more comfortable than being an incompatible “we.”  5) Does one hold the space for both interesting and intimate or go for a bumper-sticker life (think happy other, is good enough). 6) Choosing to hold the space is part of human agency, but one must face the opportunity.

Change can be annoying when it involves undoing long-standing, but badly built infrastructures.  We do best what we do most, and perhaps what we’ve done most is to suspect and protect.  Thus, we have created thriving like a mythical place and surviving like a daily occurrence.

Sharing death is a bit tricky, much trickier than sharing a life, which is also tricky.  It means being vulnerable, but not dramatic (dramatic can be fun—drama, not so much).  Our “job” is not about besting others, but about doing and being the best we can. As most of us know, such a life mostly does not win awards. However, the price of being famous or infamous, of leaving a mark that we were here, is often about hero worship and dread instead of an interesting life and deep intimacy.  Being susceptible to charm and embracing harm are a couple of ways to get lost, as we have done.  One can tell if the ratio of interesting and intimacy to charm and harm is upside down.

The Samsara SpiderBirdHuman

Samsara spider weaving its web.  Best to lie low, even, or especially when its own kind comes ‘round.

Dangerous being Samara Spider.

Samsara bird is balancing effortlessly on a limb. Waiting?

Eventually another arrives.

Hardened mouths rub together, preening follows.

They balance effortlessly, close together, feathers touching.

Mating follows. Many for the rest of their lives. Perhaps more who find themselves freed of a Groundhog Day repeat.

In another place, out on limb, a samsara human reaches out. A reply follows.

Somehow, they will never share again, not even loneliness, even as they continue together towards their repetitious life and respective deaths.

Dangerous being samara human when thriving is a distant place, when even life and death are not enough, subsumed by promises and hope for an ideal that never measures up to what is really afoot.



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