500 Words Per Day: Subtlety

I don't hear much about subtlety any more. I'm not sure why. People seem to think that the best way to go about things in this day and age is to be straightforward, open, and honest. I guess what is important is that people clearly understand what we are trying to say when we are saying it. It is important that I share my feelings and that I am honest when speaking with others about whatever it is that might be or not be bothering me.

So we don't do that thing any longer where we only subtly talk about life and life things. I think we can be subtle and honest at the same time. It makes conversation a little more challenging but it also makes it a little more interesting. It is fun searching for ways to say what's on your heart without really betraying what's on your heart. It is fun to watch people misinterpret what you are saying while they are trying to figure out what you are really saying. Of course said misinterpretation can be a hard thing to live down

And people always get it wrong. And the reason they get it wrong is because they have scarcely taken the time to ask you one question about who you are or what you mean. They would be quite content with themselves to guess (wrongly) what you are saying than to simply humble themselves and ask you what you are saying. People are so easily self-satisfied–all masters of hermeneutics and interpretation.

So we arrive at the denouement (that is, the conclusion). I'm not really sure I have a conclusion. If I have one, to be sure, I might end up not being quite as subtle as I am trying to be tonight. I suppose what I would rather happen is for people to sit around and wonder, stress, imagine, and guess what it is that I am talking about in this post. If, in fact, I'm talking about anything.

Some people find it so easy to understand others. Some people find it so easy to draw conclusions about others' motives. Some people find it so easy to say what they want to say without the slightest hint of subtlety and then in their self-confidence smile at their own genius. But if I may speak frankly, I think there is a lot less risk in speaking so openly, without subtlety. I think it takes a great deal more risk to say something subtly and risk misinterpretation than it does to be frank and open and never give anyone even a shadow of a doubt.

I prefer to leave people wondering because leaving people to guess what I'm thinking is about the best way I have to undermine their astounding arrogance and their utterly despicable condescension. But what do I know?

The worst kind of people, though, are those who try to be subtle but whose subtlety is easily unmasked. It's called false-humility. It's a terrible trait.


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