Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Little Man

The Little Man

They are the tiresome ones, the ones who rely so totally on the effluence from their own grey matter that the thoughts and opinions of others are tossed aside with nothing more than a sneer.  Perhaps you’ve heard them on the radio.  Lord knows they populate TV -  tittering at love, snickering at faith.  With no more than passing consideration, they will tell you your plan has no merit.  They shake their heads in the face of your enthusiasm and gleefully advise you to quit.  They doggedly stick to the path of their choosing, despite whom they may trample upon as they go.  They are the cynics, and I pray to steer clear of their camp.  But as ashamed as I am to say it, one of their number - a spry little man with a jaundiced eye - resides in the shadows at the back of my head and occasionally demands to be heard. 
And I don’t know quite what to do about him.
Leaving a restaurant several years ago I ran into an old colleague, someone I hadn’t seen in ages.  We talked for awhile, catching up on each other’s lives as best as was possible in the middle of the street.  Suddenly, her eyes brightened and she began to share with me a new investment opportunity that she was obviously over the moon about.  I listened, patiently, but all the while that little man in my head, the one I mightily try to refrain from calling a cynic, was muttering away, - rolling his eyes and snapping his fingers to make certain I registered his opinion.  As loathe as I am to admit it, I found myself thinking precisely the same thoughts as he.  Politely turning down her offer to “get in on the ground floor” of this new venture, I got into my car to go home, wondering how much money she was destined to lose and feeling slightly sad about being so certain this scheme was destined to fail.  And fail it did, which made me feel no better.
I consider myself someone who believes in true love just as much as its twin, happily ever after.  But when a friend wants me to be joyous over his new “soulmate” relationship with someone he “met” online only ten days before, I find I turn a bit cold.  Try as I might, I cannot always manage to silence the little man in my head.  Because of him,
  I knew Tom and Katie were destined for doom. 
 I knew John Edwards was lying.
I knew the “mission” was not “accomplished” no matter how big the banner was.
New religions, self-help books, television psychologists, Donald Trump.  The little man in the back of my head pitches a fit over them all. And this being an election year, he seems to be having more conniptions than ever.  
Believe me, I’m not happy about the wretched little chap.  I often glance around at all those happy souls who traipse through life without questions, believing what they’re told, accepting without hesitation - never suspicious, never challenging - and I feel a bit envious.  How clear their skies must be.  How deep their sleep.  But lately I’ve been wondering if perhaps, just perhaps, I have misjudged the wee fellow. After all, to his credit, he has never once sneered at my belief that compassion could change the world.   
He has always stayed silent even though he knows I am utterly convinced there is so much more around me that what my eyes can see. 
 He grants me my trust in the restorative power of Beauty. 
 He allows me my faith. 
 So could it be I am not in as much danger as I think from this creature? 
 Should I perhaps rename him... Discernment?
I’m still working that out.


  1. Hello Pamela

    If only your friend who invested and lost could find a way to package "the little man in the head" what riches there would be in the world.

    Is one born "with a man in the head" or does he get adopted along the way?

    Helen xx

  2. Ha! I speculate your little gray man might be an old pixie crone, often mistaken for gray men, but notorious for wisdom delivered via the classic voice-in-the-head method.

  3. Perhaps your friend learned/gained more from her failure as I've heard so often. Coretta Scott King said to a class of graduates, "failure is falling upward." I think your little man is good. Mine is much darker and alas, I've given up on losing him.

  4. What an interesting question......the first comment.

    I have a friend of your "friend" in my head. He seems to have been there my entire life.....(so does that mean he is in my genes? I suspect so!)

    In any case; What good questions already!!

    "are you born with him?"

    For me; yes, I was definitely "born" with him!
    More spooky stuff later..........

    I adore your blog; your dogs; and your husband!

    (What I adore more than anything is that someone asked you if you were "born" with "him"!!!

    I know, I was! What about you??


  5. Yes......."discernment" was the biggest lesson my wonderful mother tried to teach me.

    In every aspect of life. "Discernment" "Taste"

    and the difference.

    and becoming rare. Sad.

  6. maybe he's just called logic...the world does seem to have gone a bit mad.

  7. Please do call him Discernment. I think you should applaud yourself for being able to let your friend make her investment mistake. I find it nearly impossible - but at least I have never talked anyone out of any scheme that did make money. Do you find yourself alone in disbelieving Urban Legends at the beginnings - before everyone discovers that they are false?

  8. Great post, Pamela, - we should all nurture that little 'chap' that guards us from too much enthusiasm, and encourages us in Common Sense.

  9. Discernment - absolutely.
    In my line of work I depend on him and, while I'm always initially doubtful, he never steers me wrong.

  10. Discernment it is and how lucky for you that little man speaks loudly enough for you to hear...and you listen.

  11. Exactly. Discernment. We need more of these guys to help us wander through the options blithely tossed before us.

    A thought-provoking post, thank you! and thanks for stopping by and leaving me with such lovely encouragement :)

  12. I would call your little man 'the voice of reason' Pamela and I would make him very welcome.

  13. Perhaps..we could call him common sense or wisdom or a dozen other clever names. But this ability to
    'see around corners'is a valuable
    trait....You are so blessed to have it, to recognize it & to use it! My Mother had this gift & she passed it to me. I think that we as women, all have the ability BUT
    only a very few of us allow him to thrive............

  14. Would every man (and woman) had a little woman in their head, one who knew that compassion could change the world and that we should question everything.

  15. i don't like my little man.
    we argue.
    he throws cold water on my spirit.
    his name is not discernment.
    his name is black watch. and his nickname is grumpy gus.
    i try to make peace with him. he's having none of it. he tends to want a yard when i've given him a foot.
    i say... let the poor dreamers dream and pick up their pieces behind them. ... if things fall apart. every so often they don't!
    and i "fell" in love at first sight with my husband. only reason it's even over now is because he died. so even that was a surprise to all but me. so... to sum up this horrid epistle...
    i just don't know!
    but yes.. fascinating to think about. as are all your blogs.

  16. Thanks for voicing this. I feel much the same. Cautious by nature - I almost never dive headfirst into anything - yet I still find myself believing in miracles. I try to remain open minded and give people the benefit of the doubt, yet I have this critical cynical streak. Sometimes I feel quite torn. And I've often wished I could have that heedless enthusiasm some people easily conjure, but, alas, I'm too reserved and thoughtful. Yet I still find myself capable of believing anything and that this is truly a magical Universe we live in. Crazily conflicted? Maybe so, but sometimes I think just as we must temper our belief and judgment with a questioning mind open to new revelations, we must also not tamp down a willingness to accept the unknowable and be open to every day magic. It's a fine line. And when it comes to others, discernment is a good thing, castigating judgment is not. So, I try to stay open minded and open hearted while never tuning out that niggling questioning cautionary voice.

  17. Mr. Discernment is a grand little's his unbidden companion Mr. Smug we all need to be wary of!

  18. Pamela,
    Discernment and/or Caution are good friends of mine since, by nature I am a natural optimist. I feel fortunate to have Mr. D. in my head lest I believe, with enthusiasm in every sales (or con) suggested. :-)
    Great post, as always.

  19. I remember watching Colin Powell making the case at the UN for Iraq having WMD and knowing instinctively that it wasn't true. As a matter of fact, EVERYTHING about the Bush admin was as I called it. One nice thing about being 58 and a Student of Human Nature is that you've pretty much seen it all before and if you're learning your lessons life makes you wiser.

  20. I think his name is Intuition or possibly Instinct (and I am not at all sure that "he" is a "he" . . .not in mycase anyway) and I think his/her usually bright eyes are only jaundiced when I don't listen.

  21. Discernment, being the wise and golden brother of both Cynisism and Pessimism, is the most wondeful of companions to have sharing your gray matter and guiding your spirit, the other two however are the troublesome ones who seem to just continually feed on the soup of negativity no matter Discernment feeds on instinctual wisdom & truth, and he's a bit cuter too!

    Hope you're all staying cool...
    xo J~

  22. So interesting to think about. Maybe it's the times we live in that makes us "discerning" because we see over and over again so much behavior that we just know in our gut won't turn out well. Thanks to 24 hour news, these stories are quite common. The challenge is to stay hopeful and optimistic, but also wise.

  23. 24 corners said it perfectly! For me!
    "Discernment the wise and golden brother of cynicism and pessimism"
    I am neither cynical (I run away as fast as I can from those who are!)
    Nor "Pessimistic..same thing!)

    Discernment is the voice of reason. The world does have "evil" in it! Trust your intuition......and you will see it every time!

    Brilliant post!


  24. Very interesting blog! thanks for sharing the blog.Keep on update the blog.



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