I’m pleasant and balanced, making sure that I never take too much, that I leave room for others. I work to mind my manners, to not demand too much, to not get in the way, to be, well, nice.
I’m sensitive. So long ago I installed a very delicate balance inside myself, one that feels and records everything, an instrument that let my find my own heart in the middle of a dark, dark, dark space. My low levels of latent inhibition help me navigate a strange world.
Being nice doesn’t mean that I don’t have an edge, that I can’t get disgusted with mediocre pap, that I don’t value the bold and sharp. It just means that I am nice.
Down the river from here is a huge city, a world city, where being nice just doesn’t really cut it. There you have to be able to stand your ground, take your space, go and get what you need and what you want. It is a city where conflict is routine, where demands are par for the course, and where just nice can make you invisible and dismissed.
Being in the orbit of that city, being the tiny planet that circles and services it, I seem to live in a place where nice is out of balance with drive. All the drive is sucked down the river, leaving the nice here. The ideas of quality, passion, intensity, world-class expectations are all sucked away from here, leaving a kind of vacuum of pleasant and mild.
I watched some videos from our local TEDx event. The speakers were all very nice, very sweet. They were not, though, particularly sharp, hot, brilliant, or dynamic. One even explained that she was the voice of the area, the nice voice, and I knew threw up a little bit in the back of my mouth. Minneapolis demanded too much of her, and while she dreamed of going to The City to find edge, she ended up in this city, which was so nice to her that she could be nice back to it. How nice, how very, very nice.
This viewing was followed by a speak out on LGBTQ suicide which was very nice, very soft, very banal.
I’m nice. Worse, I’m habituated to nice, having been here and been around a family that resisted conflict for so long. I don’t have those battle habits, the ability to drop nice for pragmatic and determined when I need to.
Nice, though, is not serving me.
Too many people believe that nice and edgy are contradictory. My sharp brain and poetic heart need to cut away bullshit and flab, need to get down to brass tacks, need to feed off of power and not just comfort.
Searching for spaces that value edge is very difficult here. Most people just smile wanly and point down the river when asked where the edge walkers are. That vortex draws energy to it while it spins out the routine and bureaucratic to this edge.
Probably, at some time when I was younger, more exuberant and resilient, I should have taken the advice of people, walked away from my family and learned to thrive, to claim myself in the rough and tumble of the big city. I should have moved beyond nice and complaint to bold and tough, at least a little more. But that did not end up being my path, for good, for bad, for this lifetime.
I need more edge in my life, more people who see and crave and even need edge.
Wouldn’t that be nice?