Feedback is a good thing. Feedback is like a bathroom mirror—it gives us important information about ourselves, like: “is food stuck in my teeth” and “am I wearing something really inappropriate” and “who is the old coot looking back at me.” Feedback is Reality Check. Not all feedback is created equal, as we know. My Mom’s feedback, for example, is not always easy to accept, but it is generally pretty easy to interpret, because she is not constrained by niceties, like: feelings. She shoots opinion from the hip. Her aim is uncanny. Often it is unerring. This kind of feedback can be brutally hard to process without also feeling worthless, but over time, if adapted to, it is highly to be feared.
For example, Mom is always telling my brother that he needs to lose weight. (Well, she says that to a lot of people, but I noticed that she has said it to him a lot. She says it to me sometimes, too, but I’m removing myself from this conversation to maintain some semblance of perspective and fun.) That is brutal. Mom is pretty blithe about it; she doesn’t care if everyone hears, because I know in her (particular kind of) mind the thinking is: “I believe this = this is therefore fact = therefore everyone agrees with me.” I know her thinking because I am her daughter, and we share a bloodline of Mean French Women—in our case the Sassingers. She has often stated, in a generalization disguised as fact, that “French Women Are Mean” because her Grandma Sassinger provided her with the hard data, in the flesh. Her mom continued the data, and as I often tell my Mom, she is a good case example, herself. (Note: I love my mom dearly. I also can’t stand her, need her, avoid her, fear her, am confused and amused by her, disagree and agree with her, disregard her, seek her counsel, and understand and don’t understand her.)
I think my brother dreads birthdays in some small fashion, because Mom always—always—brings him a homemade Angel Food Cake, because Angel Food is less fattening than a really good cake like, say, Upside Down German Chocolate Devils Food Cake. And she does not put icing on the boring Angel Food cake, either, because icing is Fattening. I advised her, this year, to skip the whole Non-Fattening Cake routine and bring a Dairy Queen frozen ice-cream chocolate cake with the works. And to never bring up words related to “pounds, fat, weight, you need to” etc. I’m sure the Sassinger in her would whisper “don’t listen to this wimp ”--(c'est moi, naturelment)--but the Real Physical Personification of Mom laughed and said she’d think about it. Despite her fate-locked delivery of Final Judgement, I value her feedback, because it is Real. Hopefully, she will pay attention to some feedback from a fellow Mean French Woman (although I’m a lot more diluted than her and think I favor my Dad’s predominant Irish Cherokee line, personally); it might make her very pointed arrows slice through to the truth with a little less barbed destruction and a little more of a clean cut. (Wait, would that be a good thing?)
But feedback comes in many flavors. My dear brother also celebrates birthdays with friends and neighbors and children and strangers who don’t notice his shape at all. Because, despite a few extra pounds, my brother (whom I love, trust, suspect, look up to, disregard, and always am dazzled by, except when he shows his stubborn right-winged shallow side) is a highly charismatic, fearless, quick-witted, strong, ephemeral Irish Cherokee kind of guy. And we all know what those Irish are like. And those Cherokees.
And those French. Together, the World Mix of Values Thought is complex and confusing enough to produce World View Feedback of sufficient depth and conflict to keep us guessing and on our toes.
Which feedback should do, eh?