Sunday, October 20, 2013

Human nature - isn't it weird?

Mum rang me yesterday morning. She was fed up with the golf club (a few years ago I didn't think that would ever be possible) but most of the conversation revolved around me. Mum made a comparison between me and my brother - he's more resourceful, more resilient, can handle "situations" more easily than me. He'll just "get out there and do things". Gah. "But it's not your fault that it's harder for you - that's just the way you're made." Right. As I see it, the difference is that my brother's "situations" are precisely that. They come and go. And he's got friends, connections, supports. My problems are a way of life (and the money thing just adds an extra layer).

As usual on a Saturday morning, there were some interesting programmes on the radio yesterday. One was about the rise of China. It was interesting talking to a Chinese woman at one of those meet-ups. She said that for centuries China had a collective culture, but in urban centres this culture has been overhauled by an each-man-for-himself culture that's (scarily) far stronger that we have in NZ. She was interesting to talk to; I later emailed her asking if we could catch up, but she ignored or deleted or didn't get my message or it went into her junk. Or something.

Later they interviewed Gary Greenberg, author of The Book of Woe, which talks about the DSM (the mental health manual if you like). It's fair to say he's not a fan of the DSM, which seems to be driven by big pharmaceutical companies. In the latest version Asperger's was controversially removed from the list of diagnoses, with all kinds of ramifications for people who had previously been diagnosed with the condition. Luckily for Kiwis we take less notice of the DSM than they do in America.

Yesterday was a bright sunny day and in the afternoon I sat on the freshly-mown bank of the Basin Reserve and read. A few others were doing the same. One bloke was practising his guitar. The groundsman was hammering in the advertising boards that had come down in the storm. I was attacked by a big bumblebee and didn't mind: it reminded me of when I was a kid - bees were more plentiful and life was simpler. (In China they don't just have bees; they have killer hornets.)

Work last week was tolerable. On Friday afternoon there was a scare as a suspicious white powder was found on the 18th floor. There were cops and people in orange hazmat suits. I was hoping we'd have to evacuate and could all go home. People get louder as the weekend approaches - Friday afternoon is the time I least enjoy being in the office.

My cousin's youngest boy has turned five and started school. Private school. The same place his older brothers go, although they just went to the local state school until they turned eight. I'm not convinced it's the right place for the little one. He's not academic like the other two. My cousin's husband said he never would have sent any of the boys to private school, not that he has anything against it, it just wouldn't have crossed his mind. There was a similar situation in my family. I went to a private school (public school as they illogically call it over there) from 11 to 16. I sat the entrance exam, the idea being that they'd only send me there if I got a scholarship. I passed the exam OK, but didn't get a scholarship, so that was that. But then Mum decided to stump up the money (she made all those kinds of decisions - paying for education would never have entered Dad's head), knowing that my brother sure as hell wouldn't pass the exam if he were to take it the following year. To me it felt like a giant waste of money. The school - which for so many parents was all about image - didn't do much for me.

I was thinking how much I'd like to get into psychology (although how could I study that at the moment?). It's something I've been interested in for years - far more so than goddamn life insurance. As Tracy has alluded to on occasions, if human nature isn't natural for you, and you have to learn it, you become an expert in it (it's a bit like when you learn a foreign language; you often end up knowing more about the structure and grammar of that language than your mother tongue). I don't think I'm an expert at all, but I do think my Aspie tendencies have helped my understanding of human nature. If it seems really bizarre that people happily pay a dollar more for the milk with the fancy label than the one without, even when they know both bottles have come from the same cows, you'll make a note of that. Or that if you can't remember last night, you must have had an amazing night. Or that you'll happily vote against something at a body corp meeting even though it doesn't improve your lot at all, it just makes someone else's lot a bit worse. The list goes on, and for me it's fascinating. (Occasionally I've been able to take advantage of other people's "weird" human nature, online poker being an example.)

In a few minutes I'll be going to Karori to play badminton.

No comments:

Post a Comment