“I particularly like the YM stories where he shares in third person,” Biella said. “This particular Young Man recounting is different in a few ways…” Biella set herself for the telling.
“The Young Man said to his Heart, ‘My project of making a collection of the Memorable Events of my life has raised some… umm… The Young Man wasn’t sure quite how to describe what he thought.
‘Some what?’ His Heart inquired gently. The Young Man was at a loss.’
‘Anomalies….no. Oddities, peculiarities….no. Well yes….not in the usual way. Ah! Pattern!! That’s it. There’s Pattern. It’s the implications of pattern which are unusual, and interesting.’
‘Yes!’ his Heart encouraged eagerly.”
Biella adjusted her posture and continued, “The Young Man at this point of his life wasn’t a young man in the technical sense anymore. But he always remained youthful inside. ‘The Memorable Events,’ he said, ‘they lead me on interesting paths. Let me tell you a story.’ He grinned at his Heart. ‘It’s an experiment for me.’ Clearing his throat dramatically he began:
‘”…you know what will happen if you don’t,” the father said to his son. Dinner time for the young boy had become a strategic issue. He was approaching school age and was now eating at the main dinner table with the rest of the family. Previously he had eaten in the kitchen with his younger sister and the servants. Bedtime had been too early to stay up for dinner.’
‘The boy nodded. He had given the matter considerable thought. How best to deal with his predicament.’ The Young Man paused to explain to his Heart: ‘The boy’s parents thought of themselves as progressive. They were ambitious. But still they succumbed to convention. More than they were willing to acknowledge. They regarded themselves as sensible, as intelligent people. Particularly the boy’s father. An early intellectual before the term became fashionable.’
‘What was the boy’s predicament?’ His Heart asked.
‘Eating,’ the Young Man said, deliberately creating some mystery. His Heart merely smiled indulgently, familiar with his ploy. ‘His parents were insisting he eat food extremely distasteful to his specific and definite food tastes. They had very broad palates, the father an omnivore. The boy felt he wasn’t being unreasonable to refuse eating the particular foods. To him similar to eating soap or something equally inedible. His body rebelled against such wrongness, but he never complained. He simply ate what he could and left the rest. He was content to eat this way. Satisfied to make the best of it, if left to himself. He would not dish up the foods he didn’t like and therefore would not have to waste if it were his choice. But his father was insisting he eat the food he could not, or face punishment.’ The Young Man stopped.
‘There’s More to this story,’ he said. His Heart laughed happily, ‘Isn’t there always?’
‘Yes indeed,’ he smiled back at her. ‘The boy had considered his options carefully. Had thought through the possible outcomes. He had hoped his quiet non-fuss would allow the matter to go unnoticed. However he was prepared for the situation at hand. He didn’t ignore his father’s warning. A specific pre-considered action. He simply didn’t comply.’
‘What’s the difference?’ his Heart asked.
‘To ignore would be to imply stubbornness, or to create the idea of resistance. Or criticism of the policy. The boy was being careful to not convey any of these.’
‘How did that help him?’
‘He wanted to keep emotion from the situation. A most important concern. The consequence his father threatened was corporal punishment.’
‘Ah yes,’ his Heart said, ‘still a factor back then.’
‘”Very well,” his father said pointing to a spot next to the table, waiting for the boy to comply. The boy calmly went and stood on the spot. “Touch your toes,” his father said, remaining seated and continuing to eat. Leaving the boy in this position. But the boy *knew,* he knew his father’s feeble ploy. He simply waited in this position. Showing no emotion. Revealing no effect other than acceptance. If this was to be what he had to go through in order not the eat the distasteful food, so be it. He would simply accept the consequence.’
‘He had a plan,’ the Young Man’s Heart said.
‘Yes indeed. The boy knew administering corporal punishment without emotion was extremely difficult. Not only that, he knew his father was filled with self-importance. In fact, he was counting on this to leverage his father’s flaw. Knowing his calm acceptance and lack of resistance in any way would make his father look like a bully. And worse, it would make him look like an arse, make him look feeble, ineffectual, and lame. His father would not like to be seen implementing a policy which had no real rational justification. Merely a policy mired in convention. The boy didn’t want to be treated conventionally. He was already aware of the severe detriments.’
‘He received a few smacks with the shoe. His father forced to go through with it, the awareness of the awkwardness plain. The boy returned to the table still calm and accepting. Not showing any criticism whatsoever. He knew if he did, such reaction would trigger a justification. This he didn’t want. He wanted his father to reconsider. He also knew that wasn’t enough. The self-important didn’t change their edicts and opinions easily. No, he had to use something more powerful. His father’s self-importance was his tool. The only emotion the boy showed was disappointment in his father. Disappointment at his lack of reason, and disappointment in his father’s unthinking adherence to convention. He’d deliberately made the effort to shift the focus from disobedience to an issue of rationality.’
‘I’m waiting…’ his Heart said, hints of an impish smile threatening to spring free.
‘For…’ the Young Man prompted. Too engrossed to noticed the tease.
‘For the More,’ his Heart giggled, emphasising the rhyme.
‘Ah yes,’ the Young Man said earnestly, now not showing any recognition of the tease whatsoever. He’d been slow the first time, but he would use his miss to counter-tease his Heart. ‘Well….’ he said even more seriously. Adopting a lecturing tone, he continued. ‘You have to understand how it was. All the various particulars and conformities and ramibunctufications and all the general delighted teasing that prevailed.’ He could hold his laughter no longer. Laughing happily he took in the mock scowl from his Heart.
‘Very funny!’ She said in that delightfully cute way of hers.
He grinned mischievously. ‘But yes, there is More, quite a bit More.’ The Young Man returned to his story telling voice and continued, ‘The boy didn’t eat the distasteful food that day and no more was said. So far so good.’
‘The next time the issue came up the boy again simply accepted the consequence without any judgement. This time adding resignation, just faintly, to the milder disappointment. As if he had accepted his father was going to insist on being shallow. The father again looked silly. Even more so. When the possibility of this becoming a pattern came to his father’s understanding, as the boy knew it would, his father would be in a jam. He was counting on it. Yes, he was prepared for a few hidings, but if it were to be absolutely every single time then he would have to come up with a different solution. He was counting on his father’s self-importance. And counting on his father’s lack of ethics, his ability to be dishonest.’
‘It’s amazing what we know, even without words,’ his Heart said. ‘At first, the words make us know less,’ she didn’t elaborate, she never needed to.
‘Yes,’ the Young Man agreed. ‘The boy knew much. His insight he felt simply because he’d taken the time to think his predicament through to the end. Not feeling clever or special or anything of the sort, merely using what to him was obvious. He knew his father would not want to continue looking foolish, understanding his father wasn’t going to officially renounce the policy. Knowing the solution lay in hypocrisy, where he would simply be ignored. Or the pretence would be made of not noticing. A compromise via unspoken agreement.’
His Heart said, ‘Discipline was effectively vanquished.’
‘Yes. The boy had made a stand of principle. He’d shown he was prepared to pay the consequences of his decisions. His stand had not only won the unacknowledged respect of his parents and siblings, but had secured an even greater victory. He’d won his freedom! He’d won the Battle of Truth. He knew he could not again ever be challenged on matters where he had sense and reason on his side. His parents now knew he could make a stand, aware a stand like that would expose their hypocrisy and lack of ethics. Expose their shallow thinking and adherence to convention for appearance sake. Any stand on truth would bring into dispute their aspirations of being special and liberal. Underneath they were no different to those they looked down on. They too were conformists.’
‘The boy knew it,’ his Heart echoed.
‘Yes. It had been a costly victory, but not really, an insignificant inconvenience in the long term. A very minor price to pay for freedom. His parents never insisted with him again. They maintained the surface pretence of being in charge, which he left alone. He knew they needed this crutch in order to placate themselves internally.’ The Young Man wound down the story, his tone adapting. The mischief still in him.
‘Err…’ the Young Man mumbled with mock apology, ‘There’s still a bit More…’ and laughed. ‘The consequences for the boy were profound as he’d also leveraged himself. He could not ever after behave in any other way except scrupulously and impeccably. One slip and his victory would be undone. His parents would pounce on any ethical breach or compromise and overreact to right the imbalance. He’d have to be inordinately attentive to his behaviour and its implications. This suited the boy. He relished the challenge, liking the strategy and how it motivated, pressured, and leveraged him, standing him in good stead all his life as it became a habit of necessity. His choice and preference. He’d a severe distaste for the corruption-of-self he saw in his parents. He had no respect for them and saw they didn’t respect themselves either. The boy was exceedingly glad his Strategic Stand had forced him to be Impeccable, as he already understood how easily one could be tempted and corrupted. He’d seen it happen to his parents and his three siblings. That one stand changed his life. He would come to appreciate it even more as he grew older.’
The Young Man smiled fondly, embracing his Heart with his eyes. ‘Now to get to my point.’ His Heart surprised him by rolling her eyes in exaggerated exasperation. He laughed. ‘The question is why?’
‘Yes why?’ His Heart agreed, not fully understanding where he was going but playing along.
‘Yes, why did I choose?’
‘Why did you choose what?’ The Young Man’s Heart knew he liked to be asked the obvious questions. Such inquiries gave him licence, pulling the More from his depths when so leveraged.
‘Why did I choose those parents. Why did I choose to have such distinctly limited food tastes,’ the Young Man said, intriguing his Heart.
‘Because it makes sense,’ his Heart said, not in any way surprised at this complete shift in the conversation. She took the assumptive speculation completely in stride, able to go right into something new without pause.
The Young Man chuckled. ‘This is the pattern which extrudes itself from my Collection of Memorable Events. It’s all too neat. It makes so much sense in so many ways. And all so convenient. Made me think….’ No need for explanation, they knew the implication. ‘I do so love what-ifs. Sometimes they fit so marvellously. If I assume I’d chosen my parents somehow. If I assume I had the ability to choose certain aspects about myself, it opens up so much. For one, that Strategic Stand makes even more sense, becoming part of a larger strategy. Adding explanation of how the boy was aware of all he was aware of. Not that there isn’t any reason he couldn’t have been aware of those particular understandings under normal circumstances, but makes it less unusual. Not that there was anything unusual about the boy except he came with the default setting of thinking things through to the end. That’s really it. The rest just followed from responding Appropriately.’ The Young Man caught himself and grinned with self-awareness.
‘It changes Responsibility,’ his Heart said.
‘It does indeed. That’s what made me pursue this perspective approach. Besides fitting so neatly, so extraordinarily, it’s a fantastic mechanism for Self-Leverage. You know how I love Leverage and Value. Here’s not only a splendid potential mystery, it’s also a mechanism which has practical Value. We only have to adopt this idea as an exercise to get benefit. If we take our own Strategic Stand that we ourselves are indeed the ones who chose the circumstances of our birth, we then have to assume full Responsibility for what transpires from that decision. And we have to figure out the Good reasons for doing so.’
His Heart pondered this. “It matters not if we believe the idea or not, it’s Valuable,’ she said.
‘Massively Valuable,’ the Young Man agreed, ‘We’re provided with a context and perspective from which we see so much More. A different pattern in play which highlights the incredible genius of our non-self. How can we complain with this idea in play? We simply have to look for and extract the Value. And once we get into the spirit of the exercise, set aside any reservations and concerns pertaining to validity of belief. None of that matters anyway, we can extract so much good. For me the greater Value resides in what’s implied about my Deep-Self. This perspective of choosing how my life started shows me not only what I need and needed to learn, but also what’s truly of importance to me. It’s as if the circumstances besides being forced lessons, are also designed to unequivocally encourage me to *implement* what’s of the utmost Value.'”
From: Tales of the Young Man – Collected Works
Ursula had some concern which found its way into a comment, “I’ll come back to the speculation, as interesting as that is, and powerful, I have to clear something first. The Young Boy manipulated his father, I don’t see a way around it.”
Biella’s sobriety infused her posture, filling her with thoughtfulness. “The Young Man knew it also, the implications had a deep influence on him and his ethics. Only once did he deliberately manipulate for personal gain. But in that instance, he had no regrets, doubts or concerns. His father again, the only time he ever asked for anything. Considering the totality of the nothing he’d received, he felt his request valid, and leveraged his father’s self-importance again, this time using the benefit of public appearance resulting from the ‘generosity.’”
“But, he had a lifelong reluctance to use this ability, even for good purpose. The line between making a good case and manipulation usually too fine for his comfort. The consequence resulting in self-imposed limitations. This question of manipulation vs awareness vs integrity vs sensibility vs effectiveness, is one we have to be particularly cognisant of. We need to make sure we remain mindful. Awareness, insight, and understanding are powerful tools, but can come with a heavy price when it comes to ethical considerations. The path of right and good is not always easy or convenient.”