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December 29, 2012



It may also be that "who you really are" isn't either the nice guy or the selfish guy, but someone that includes both as roles that you identify with.

But it is funny how those situations occur in which you help someone through common courtesy and then end up paying for it (albeit in a very minor way) later on. I've had the same experience that you described countless times, on both sides of the coin (like when someone lets you in while driving then misses the light because you were going too slow).

On a practical level the whole ritual of holding the door is rather pointless and doesn't actually help anyone (unless they're actually needing physical assistance and/or disabled); on the other hand, it is a symbolic gesture, as if you're saying "I see you, acknowledge you, respect your being, so I'm going to hold the door for you." That's quite a gift and much more important than the physical act (unless, of course, they actually need assistance). It is actually similar to the Hindu "Namaste" greeting, which literally means "I bow to the light of the divine in you."

One of my favorite philosophers, Alan Watts, liked to say that we're all selfish, but it depends upon what you mean by "self." He found it false and contrived to be selfless or kind or giving in a kind of mock altruistic way that is rather prevalent in our Christian-based society. The problem is that this bifurcates identity so that we have a "good and kindly" self that we're trying to be, and a "wicked and bad" self that we're trying to avoid but somehow feels more authentic. Obviously we're both, but also neither. Watts' approach was to inquire into the nature of self, and to be authentic to that. It may be that the "selfish Jeff" is no more authentic than the "helpful Jeff", that both are just masks or roles. Freud would say the former is your id and the latter your superego, and your primary self (the ego) does a balancing act between the two. As with everything Freud said, I think this is just partially true - that he didn't recognize the more transcendent qualities of the self, that ultimately all of these are but masks or roles that we play and that who we truly are is more akin to what is called in the east Atman or Buddhamind.

But I digress!


Holding the door is, as you say, a symbolic gesture of acknowledging others and affirming we live in a society, not our solipsistic selves.

Doug Spoelker

You did the right thing. No matter what the Situation, you looked like the good guy. Patience is hard but worth it.
I am a bit out of shape and 49. I have the frame that could make me ripped. Tall and husky. Is it too late?


Now of course there is always a third view on holding the door, although this only holds good for people of ones sexual preference, that little smile and a great rear view combined with the feeling of having performed a small but courteous deed.

I think I will have another glass of that!


Interesting product - has an FM radio recorder!


I always let others ahead of me if i'm not in an absolute rush (unless they've annoyed me or other members of the public in some way). There are hardly any times when being delayed by a few minutes will ruin your day. In a contest between being somewhere a few minutes early and the satisfied feeling of having helped someone out, no matter how small the gesture, there's no contest. Things like that, and a friendly smile, will get you a long way in life.

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