Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

The Noise of Ulterior Motives

Doing something for good reasons. That should be the goal. Plenty of, I think most of the time, there should be more than one reason to do a thing, and there usually is. I'll walk because it's good low-impact exercise, it can get me needed sun, it lets me vary my surroundings, and it gives me a place and time to think. Someone will take a job because they have a talent in that area, and because it's in a well-accessible place for them. Sometimes it's 1969 and you're Stephen King falling in love for several reasons with your future wife, fellow writer Tabitha Spruce:

I fell in love with her partly because I understood what she was doing with her work. I fell because she understood what she was doing with it. I also fell because she was wearing a sexy black dress and silk stockings, the kind that hook with garters.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, 2000, p. 62 of the hardcover

Why did you do something? It doesn't take much thinking to figure out multiple reasons for doing anything in particular...if you're honest with yourself.

The rub, there it is.

This weekend, I looked on Facebook and saw a request from someone I'm acquainted with: Could some people help me with packing? I definitely can -- in May I helped two friends move from their apartment into their new house, and in my life I've moved plenty -- and I could have helped this person with that chore. The whole "many hands make light work" thing. But I decided not to offer, reasoning that I don't (yet) know the person that well. It says a lot about a person, the books they have. And this person's family is committed to reading; there'd be a lot of books. I want to know this person, and their family, better; they all seem like good people. But I should get to know them in neutral territory, not necessarily where they live and work. Otherwise I'd feel sneaky.

And I also worry if other people think I am sneaky.

Do people suspect ulterior motives in me? I want to be sure that they don't, but not for "I don't want to get caught!" reasons -- instead for "I want to earn and keep trust" reasons. The "I don't want to get caught!" reasons are the reasons of a sociopath, at least a potential one. And I think my sociopath radar is improving. I don't want to set off that radar in others.

But I also also worry that I could get too good at hiding any potential ulterior motives for what I do. That I'd become less honest with myself. That, perhaps, I'd get tired of thinking Why are you really doing this? so much of the time and ignore that question. That I'd get tired of holding myself to just the simple standard of "don't be a dick."

Even simply being honest with yourself can be tough. But I don't want the alternative.

So. There's the constant job of building, rebuilding, and shoring up the foundation of honesty, as my way of (I hope) strengthening myself. Being more prepared to be honest, even when it's difficult or embarrassing. All part of the effort to keep liking myself.

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