Fact or fiction; you name it, I’ll read it. I often wish I could read people too. Some say they can; I say dream on. People are such a complex mix of genes, life experiences and personality.
They remind me of my favourite books. I read them and think I understand them. Then I read them again later and find something new. Something I failed to notice earlier.
Some people appear more readable than others. Donald Trump is one of them.
He reads like an open book compared to many. Not that it helps us much, as the main message is aggressivity and unpredictability.
Usually we know very little about our leaders, just their public facades and official biographies.
For all we know they may be living a double life to the fullest like Mr. Halla-aho, the contender for the leadership of the Finns party.
A few days ago the Finns (both the people and the party) learned to their great surprise that the father of four was actually a father of five, who had been living a double life for eight years while selling the story of a solid family man to his voters.
There is not much Donald Trump can do that would surprise us. We expect him to do something surprising, so there is no surprise to it.
Emmanuel Macron is a different story altogether. I find him very hard to read. I am sure I will be surprised many times.
What made me ponder the question of people as open books? It’s a combination of several things. Two very different ones to be specific.
Donald Trump took a trip abroad and I took my granddaughter to the theatre.
I watched Mr. Trump breeze through the Middle-East and Europe with his jacket open and his red tie swinging. Posturing by a wall here and elbowing his way into the centre of a photo there.
World leaders all over had been told to keep it short (to match the Mr. Trump’s attention span). They were also told to keep the flattery level high.
All went well in the Middle East. Both parties kept it short and concentrated on the fawning and toadying.
Europe was another story. One that was easy to follow, Trump being the relatively open book that he is.
EU leaders don’t always keep it short. Even if they tried, there would be too many of them, and they have this (foreign) notion that more than a few should be allowed to speak. They are not good at flattering on command either.
If you watched the video footage of Mr. Trump’s visit to Europe, you probably noticed at least a few of the many subtle snubs being dealt to him. It takes a man living in total denial to declare his trip a success.
Donnie boy did not appreciate the fact that he had to make his own way to the middle of group photos, and walk unnoticed into conference rooms while his hosts kept chatting happily among themselves. Then again, he wasn’t exactly acting friendly himself, was he?
I will continue this fine European tradition of minor snubs in my blogs. Donald Trump will be Mr. Trump to me from now on – not president Trump. He doesn’t act like a president, so why call him one?
But back to the other reason for pondering the reading of people.
I just took my soon to be twelve-year-old granddaughter to the theatre with her friend in tow. All went well, the performance was great, and the young ladies enjoyed themselves.
As I listened to the two friends, who were off in their own world as soon as they met up, it struck me forcibly that my granddaughter is well on her way to create a life of her own.
I have faced this once as a parent; I am facing it again as a grandparent. As children grow up, the “book” becomes less open.
When they are small it’s relatively clear what their needs are. As they grow older their needs become more complex.
Things become truly complicated when they realise that they have to fend for themselves one day. That their life is theirs to figure out and live.
It’s a stage when adults are just too adult. Not to mention grandmothers. They try to understand you, but you feel they can’t. You may humour them, and give them points for effort. But they can’t live your life for you.
I wish I could read the book in progress called my granddaughter better. Just so I get it right. I want to be whatever my grandchildren need me to be at any given moment.
Although one should be careful what one wishes for.
There’s such a lot of stuff going on in our heads. Thoughts that come and go. Things nobody needs to know, much less remember. Ourselves included.
I am pretty sure the world would seem a lot unsafer, if we knew our leaders’ innermost thoughts.
The more people open up on social media, the less interesting and likeable they become in many cases.
There is always a risk that while we think our story reads one way, the readers read it differently. Even after several reads. Take Donald Trump; he sees himself as a masterpiece, others see him as a cheap serial.
It’s probably a good thing that we are readable only to the extent we allow it – knowingly or unwittingly.
Then again – despite the risks – don’t we all wish someone would take the time to read us?