Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday morning I left the apartment a little early to go swimming because my roommate had a friend over and I thought the fact that they had been holed up in their room until almost eleven was an indication of either a) shyness about the visitor and the potential awkwardness of a roommate meeting one's choices or b) having their own morning. I took it upon myself to leave early to "do them a favor" by not being around, so that they could come out and have a private breakfast, something I'd wish for if the circumstance were the other way around.

It is this offer, this suggestion of "putting oneself first," imaging what somebody might want and taking care of this imaginary need that is the flip side of resentment, the "I've done enough [for you]" feeling that I often experience with those I have a particular, familial type relationship with. The trick, if this is a trick, is to recognize the reasoning as it's happening and thus make sense of my reaction to the situation rather than feeling forced into some false moral dichotomy about the right thing to do. If I'm feeling generous, it's no problem to make a necessary or imaginary sacrifice for somebody else, but if not....

Last Monday I tried to explain what resentment meant to a Korean industrial design student who was, like all undergraduates at my school, required to take a course on narrative storytelling. Sans dictionary, I explained resentment as blaming somebody for forcing you into a choice, and gave the example of the guy who resents his friends for borrowing money from him. KJ (the student) asked, "Why would you keep lending them money if you didn't want to?" The swimming pool, this morning, was full of light.