Contradictory Impulses

One of the many odd things about the way I lived my life in Santa Barbara was the fact that while it was very important to me that I lived near the ocean, I never went to the beach. Though I enjoyed the whole SoCal lifestyle of outdoor volleyball, little kids with sand pails, dogs happily chasing sticks into the waves—I loved knowing it was there—I forewent it all. My very favorite SB restaurant is (literally) right on the sand, but would I set even one dainty toe in the grains? No, I would not. Concerns such as tar on my feet (SB has loads of natural tar seeps), sunburn issues, and overcrowding kept me away.


So, how much could I “really love” something that so consistently failed to entice me? And yet, I am stalwart in my adoration of the ocean and preference for life at the shore. It’s just the way I roll.


This contradiction got me thinking about other types of mismatch in our lives. It makes no sense to me that I can love being by the sea and yet actively avoid it. What gives? Am I just fooling myself? Am I so stunningly lazy that I can’t be bothered to drive 10 minutes down the road and pull into the beachside lot? Have I bought into a mythical lifestyle so I feel like I fit in? Yes, I know how strange this is.


Which is one of the reasons that when I made the choice to move back to DC, away from the soft breezes and sunny climes of Santa Barbara, I reminded myself that I actually hadn’t gotten to the beach enough to justify my staying put. To be honest, years ago when I first moved from Washington to Santa Barbara, I experienced the reverse concern about leaving a large city—but, heading West, I reminded myself that it wasn’t like I was going to a disco every night or whatever it is “Big City” folk do to embrace their urban jungle.


So, what’s my point in sharing this with you? My point is twofold: #1 It’s worth observing the contradictions in yourself and making an effort to recognize they exist because they can have a funny way of influencing your decisions if you don’t keep an eye out. #2 I believe it makes it easier to sympathize with another’s contradictory struggles if we acknowledge our own.


This tussle extends far beyond geography. For example, I may really want a particular job or relationship or whathaveyou, but whenever I get close to getting it, my gut clenches and all sorts of alarm bells go off warning me that this may not be the right choice. For me, it’s purely an emotional response since I have a “thing” about feeling trapped or stuck, but the fact that I now recognize I do this has made it a lot easier for me to cajole myself through this temporary panic. I murmur soft, reassuring phrases to myself (keeping an eye on the Exit Sign) and, in nearly all cases, my concern fades away.


So, what about you? What sort of crazy, head scratching contradictions do you have? Have you even thought about it? Any theories as to why you are so perplexing? Can you see this pattern in the people close to you?


I know someone who loves to be organized and talks about it incessantly, but is one of the messiest, disorganized people in my acquaintance. That’s a contradiction! Or how about someone who loves to cook but refuses to eat? And, taking it a step further, what if you love or admire someone but you refuse to tell them? How about that? Tell you what, think about this for awhile, see what insights you can glean about yourself, and I’ll take you to a beachside disco, my treat.


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2 Responses to “Contradictory Impulses”

  1. grasshopper Says:

    ha ha! I LOVE it. You’re so right…I never thought about it, but now I will! 🙂

  2. Jennifer DiGregorio Says:

    I love and admire you, Ace!

    Sent from my iPhone

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