If You Prick Us, Do We Not Bleed?

Prickly.

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If you prick us, do we not bleed?

If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

If you poison us, do we not die?

And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”
― William Shakespeare

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I slapped myself awake this morning. By that I mean… exactly that. My hand rose up and whacked me on the head, there was no more sleeping after that. The hand was not being controlled by someone else, my body was not possessed by a violent entity.

This is not an unusual event.

If someone else had done this to me, I would have punched them back and the situation would have escalated by degrees until one of us ended up in the hospital or… well, right now I wouldn’t be writing this post, I’d either be digging a deep hole in the woods which border my garden or someone else would be doing something similar.

However since I was the culprit, punching myself back seems a tad counterproductive.

Why did I hit myself? Do I have a sadomasochistic relationship with myself? Probably, but that’s not the motive which spurred me to self abuse in this particular instance. A tiny fly landed near my ear, got caught in my hair and was buzzily annoying. That is not a condition conducive to sleep… neither is hitting yourself to solve that problem.

Sometimes my solutions to problems make things worse. It’s a bit hit or miss… or hit and miss. I hit myself but missed the fly. Even if I had managed to hit the fly too, there’d be another one to take over where that one left off.

There are several buzzing around my head right now, and yes, I’m using the same tactic to deal with them as I did this morning. The problem is a long way off from getting solved.

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This situation is rich with philosophical connections to life, relationships, how we perceive others and ourselves in relation to others, how we deal with problems, and so on, so forth.

At least it sums up how I deal with problems… and how I sometimes perceive other people. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit to that, but I’ve found it is best to own up to my flaws rather that try to hide them, as that usually makes things worse and I’m already very adept at doing that so I don’t need bonus self-induced worseness added to the mix.

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See the chestnuts (the edible, roasting on an open fire in X-mas songs kind) in the photo above? The chestnuts are at the heart of the prickly outer casing, the bits with what look like tiny hands with extra fingers reaching out.

When I saw those tiny hands surrounded by lethal looking spines… it made me think of humans.

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All we want is to be loved, we say while reaching out our tiny hands to others, but if someone, one of these others, tries to take our reaching hand, give us some love, maybe in the shape of a hug, they get skewered by our prickly spines… and then we blame them for backing away from us.

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“In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.”
― William Shakespeare

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The reason we have those prickly spines protecting us is because our hearts are soft, timid, still growing, vulnerable, and rather delicious to hungry predators.

Sometimes it is hard to tell the predators from those who mean us no harm and are supportive of us enough not to eat our soft centers when we reveal them and drop our prickly guard.

It’s only natural for us to want to protect ourselves, to test others, to respond to our primal urge to know if others are a friend or foe… but sometimes we forget that others are doing the same thing with us. Just because we know, or think we know, that we are trustworthy and mean others no harm… well, we mean them no harm when we skewer them with our spines (accidentally) while hugging them… does not mean that others know this about us. They need to test us, just as we test them. They protect themselves, just as we protect ourselves.

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The Daily Post’s prompt for today asks:

If you had to come up with one question, the answer to which would determine whether or not you could be friends with a person you’ve just met, what would it be? What would the right answer be?

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That is both a difficult, complex and complicated, question to answer and also a simple one.

This is my question, my litmus test – You do realise that I am human just like you, don’t you?

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Why?

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Because sometimes I get the feeling that other people are so caught up in being human, and everything which that entails, all the subtle perspectives of it, that they forget other people are people too, other people are as caught up as they are in being human, and everything which that entails, all the subtle perspectives of it, and that they too forget that other people are people too, and that they are as caught up as they are in being human, and everything which that entails, all the subtle perspectives of it, and that they too forget that other people are people too…

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We can’t always remember such things… especially when our memory banks are full of all the things which are hurting us and have ever hurt us.

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“Beshrew your eyes,
They have o’erlook’d me and divided me;
One half of me is yours, the other half yours,
Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
And so all yours.”
― William Shakespeare

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We sometimes hurt others because we are hurting… and we are so focused on our own pain that we blur out everyone else’s. We can’t focus on their pain. So we don’t.

If we lash out at others, we expect them to understand, be empathetic, sympathetic towards us. We’re in pain. But what about them? What about them!

If they lash out at us… or react to us lashing out at them… then what? Do we understand, are we empathetic, sympathetic towards them?

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“So many the outward shows be least themselves. The world is still deceived with ornament.”
― William Shakespeare

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Sometimes our pain is others, our pain is flies buzzing around our head, and we’re swatting at them, not really paying attention to where our swats land, what they hit, ourselves, others, against a surface which hurts our swatting hand…

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Sometimes the way we deal with problems… creates more problems. Sometimes our solutions may be solutions for us but problems for others, and can at times lead to more problems for ourselves… because others, just like us, make their problems ours, as we make our problems theirs.

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Being human… it pricks and we all bleed, but our pain and our blood is… our pain and our blood. The pain and blood of others… sometimes we don’t see it, we don’t want to see it as it might mix with ours and create hues which blur our own pain and the colour of our own blood.

So we justify what we need… build altars to our pain, sacrifice others upon those altars, resent them for not being willing sacrificial lambs, and then resent those who resent us for not being swilling acrificial lambs upon their altars of their pain.

Such is being human.

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Is there a right answer to my litmus test question?

Is there a right answer to anything when a left and a center always exist, even when we pretend they don’t?

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“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”
― William Shakespeare

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