POEM: I will not insist that you misunderstand me in a certain way


I will not insist
That you misunderstand me
In a certain way

This short poem is a mere dozen words, yet, it touches on many themes.  The primary theme of the short poem is about understanding and misunderstanding.  The secondary themes are about not insisting on one’s own way, and letting go of how others perceive you, and as the case may be, mis-perceive you.

It may seem that there are few certainties in life, but you should be able to chalk off being misunderstood as one of those eventualities.  I believe that being misunderstood is a certainty because there is an intrinsically private nature to our inner life of who we are.  In fact, I don’t believe that complete self-knowledge is even possible, so we are stuck with the least a certain amount of misunderstanding of who we really are.  The trick I suppose is to recognize this and accept it.  The poem focuses on being misunderstood by others because this is a common and palpable source of pain and confusion in our lives.  Also, from a psychological perspective, I think that there is a tendency for humans to focus on other people’s’ deficiencies and limitations, rather than to do the oftentimes difficult task of recognizing our own deficiencies and limitations and dealing directly with them.  The “not insisting” part of this poem is intended to lead the reader to let go of focusing on others.

The mention of “a certain way”, hopefully, elicits in the reader a certain sense of foolishness in our frequently vain attempts to be understood, when actually the best we may be able to do is to be misunderstood in a particular way.  Again, this foolishness is a result of not accepting the irreducible reality that some misunderstanding is inevitable.

This poem is not intended to be discouraging. It touches on an awareness of a theme that I’ve noticed in my life in recent years.  That is, that disillusionment is actually a good thing.  After all, shouldn’t we be shedding our illusions?  The negative connotation of disillusionment is pervasive.  Accepting the reality for what it is, not simply what we would like it to be, is a sign of maturity and health.  I love paradoxes!  I believe that truth lives in the neighborhood of paradox.  Paradoxically, learning to accept our own limitations and deficiencies, and the limitations and deficiencies of others, is necessary to experience and live truly free.  Just because I can’t run 100 miles an hour, doesn’t mean that I’m not free.  We should let go of illusions that distract us from actually accomplishing and living the magnificently great things that actually are within our own power.  This may not be easy, but I find it helpful.  And it gives me something to do, to pass the time with.

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