Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Gentle Art of Being Hated

I find myself now in a situation where I regularly encounter people from my recent past who hate me. They have their reasons. To be honest, I don't like them either. So we see each other at public functions where we are both there for professional reasons. There is no danger of an angry encounter occurring because we are too civilized and too self-interested for that to happen.

Yet there is a tension that is enhanced by the fact that I sit at the front of the room and they sit at the back. I am being watched and they have to look at me.

Who suffers more?

I suspect (and hope) they do because they are, no doubt worrying, that I am going to muscle-in on what they have long perceived as their territory. I think they are wrong about it being their territory, but I certainly am there. It must bother them to have to look at the head of the hated one. I hope so. At this point I am largely free of them except at such events. If only we could become strangers, but memory is not that kind and they are unlikely to be blinded.

Long ago, as the result of childhood taunts, I developed a fairly thick skin for animosity directed towards me. I can look straight through those I no longer wish to engage with and simultaneously generate the necessary disdain. This requires little energy on my part. It has become an instinctive survival strategy for someone who wishes neither to hide or to fight.

The cycle of these public non-meetings will continue for the foreseeable future. I am already used to it.

-Adam Markus 9/29/07