Hello haystack. December 4, 2011 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a needle. Back in 2004/2005, there was a response on Ask MeFi (I think) in which the commenter explained how he had made peace with/improved his life. I recall him saying that he just woke up one morning and decided to start doing more to help out around the house (i.e., washing dishes, doing things with his children, etc.).

I know this isn't much to go on (and I'm not even sure about the examples that I used), but I figured it was worth a shot. I can remember the post as a heartfelt message about the power of simply taking ownership of one's life by making a conscious effort to start improving things.

He didn't point out his actions to his wife and she didn't immediately realize what he was doing, but in the course of a few weeks/months, he said that their relationship improved, in addition to his own sense of contentment. I don't recall if he said that she started to reciprocate, but it's possible.

I failed to immediately recognize that the post had an impact on me, but I've come back to it in my head repeatedly over the last few years. Despite several attempts to locate it, I haven't been able to find it. I understand the principles behind the post, so I'm looking more for reasons of nostalgia than reference. I figured it was worth a shot to see if anybody else might remember the post and/or have saved it.
posted by ajr to MetaFilter-Related at 5:11 PM (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Was it this comment by (mefi's own) Adam Savage, by any chance?
posted by donnagirl at 5:32 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also immediately thought of asavage's comment.
posted by Mavri at 5:37 PM on December 4, 2011


Gosh I miss having him around! Hey Adam! Are you still around? We miss you...
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:46 PM on December 4, 2011


He commented as recently as Thursday. So, yeah, he is.
posted by mimo at 6:02 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I admit I'm only speaking out of a hunch rather than knowledge, but I think asavage is around, he just doesn't comment much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:03 PM on December 4, 2011


If you want to see his posting history, it's all in his profile. No need to guess.
posted by John Cohen at 6:09 PM on December 4, 2011


Posting history only tells you when someone posts, not when they just read.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


An answer in less than 20 minutes. MeFi never ceases to amaze.

@donnagirl, if you don't mind me asking, how did you find it?

It's incredible that the meat of this comment stuck in my head for 7+ years (this was posted before MeFi enabled "favorites" and, I had no recollection of it being made by Mr. Savage). I'll take it as confirmation that our subconscious really knows what we need to hear even when we aren't really aware of it.
posted by ajr at 6:21 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


if you don't mind me asking, how did you find it?

Happy to share, since I used special librarianly google-fu. I searched for:

life help house wife site:ask.metafilter.com

and used the advanced search tools to limit the results to the date range 1/1/2004 - 1/1/2006. Other than being momentarily distracted by the awesome "What experience shaped you" thread, it was really the only thing in the first page of results that seemed likely. A quick readthrough and there it was. Credit goes to hundreds of vague reference questions from undergraduates about finding things they read once.
posted by donnagirl at 6:33 PM on December 4, 2011 [33 favorites]


I have to agree with Adam's comment, btw. There's so much more subtlety to human relationships than...checking out groceries, or whatever. I.e. when I do $X and my wife says "Thank you for doing $X" and we all know exactly what's what because she got her thing and I got a receipt.

Because first of all, she's not the boss that I have to "obey" and then I get a report card; we are both adults. And second of all, she's not necessarily going to notice for a while. Or she is going to notice well before she says anything, if she ever does. Or she'll "notice" but not consciously and things will just be more awesome for a reason no one can definitively state. Or the thing I'm doing actually affects the kids or the neighbors or the in-laws and it only indirectly trickles back, if that. Maybe it something that only affects ME but now I feel better so I'm less crabby which means that etc etc etc.

Basically, you have to treat virtue as its own reward. And once you do think of that virtuous feeling as a reward, i.e. "fake it" as Adam says, for a while, it starts to really be so.
posted by DU at 6:50 PM on December 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


This reminds me of quote from breaking bad: "“When you have children, you always have family; they will always be your priority, your responsibility. And a man … a man provides. And he does it, even when he’s not appreciated. Or respected. Or even loved. He simple bears up and he does it … because he’s a man." -- Gus.

Setting aside the obvious discussion about gender roles begging to be addressed in this question, and the obvious point that not only men provide for a family, I have found it to be pretty compelling, as a man, as I think about the things I have to get done.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:57 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Posting history only tells you when someone posts, not when they just read.

Yes, just because someone isn't posting doesn't mean they aren't reading. But anytime someone is posting, they're also reading. And we know he's still reading Metafilter, since he's still posting.
posted by John Cohen at 7:03 PM on December 4, 2011


And we know he's still reading Metafilter, since he's still posting.

The argument was that because he was not commenting a lot, that he therefore must not be reading. The thrust of my response was "he may just be doing more reading than posting right now, is all."

Class, don't forget there will be a pop quiz on the dissection of this comment, and next week we go on to frogs. Don't forget your permission slips.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


i continue to be surprised by the things that shape these plates of beans.
posted by nadawi at 7:47 PM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Adam's comment is excellent. Sometimes you do stuff just for the satisfaction of contributing to the relationship, you don't necessarily do it for recognition, but it all goes in the pot and it makes your life work.
posted by arcticseal at 7:54 PM on December 4, 2011


I just sent this quote to my husband to say thanks for doing exactly what he's describing. Very nice, glad you asked.
posted by fyrebelley at 8:35 PM on December 4, 2011


Posting history only tells you when someone posts, not when they just read.

. . .
posted by mlis at 9:23 PM on December 4, 2011


Ooo-ooh, the damage done.

Oh. That kind. Gotcha.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:33 PM on December 4, 2011


SpacemanStix, I'm amused to see you quoting that line from Breaking Bad because of what Gus is trying to get out of the other person in that conversation....
posted by brainwane at 4:01 AM on December 5, 2011


SpacemanStix, I'm amused to see you quoting that line from Breaking Bad because of what Gus is trying to get out of the other person in that conversation....

Yeah, I definitely wouldn't endorse Gus's chosen line of work or underlying motives to provide for one's family at the end of the day. What made that quote so compelling on the show is that it seemed to be exactly the right kind of sentiment in the wrong kind of place. It's a misplaced virtue that you might admire if the situation were different, which the show does a really good job of doing throughout: making you feel sympathetic in a normally very unsympathetic situation.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:33 AM on December 5, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: “Posting history only tells you when someone posts, not when they just read.”

Er, this is going way past making too much of this, and furthermore maybe I'm revealing myself as a creepy stalker saying this, but:

There is a way to tell when metafilter members are "just reading" – up to a point. Favorites are public. Go check to see if they've favorited anything recently. Even when they aren't commenting, many people favorite a lot.
posted by koeselitz at 7:02 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poor Gus.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:24 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a way to tell when metafilter members are "just reading" – up to a point. Favorites are public. Go check to see if they've favorited anything recently. Even when they aren't commenting, many people favorite a lot.

*long stare*

...Honestly, I'm wondering why I bothered saying anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit. Asavage's one favourite is a three word sentence which links to a photo that's no longer there.

Now I want to know exactly what it was that the poster thought you should do with an ant queen that asavage thought was worth his only favourite :)
posted by pharm at 8:39 AM on December 5, 2011


Celebrity really seems to skew comment to favorite ratios.

Great post though, so I'll hop on that bandwagon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't' there a study done recently that implied emotional bonds are strengthened through service, rather than the other way around? It's something that I've been thinking about lately as I embark down a similar journey.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:52 AM on December 5, 2011


Psych research suggested some time ago that doing favours for someone (other factors held constant) tends to produce warm feelings toward the recipient, rather than the doer. Don't know if that generalizes to "service" generally, but makes sense that it might.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2011


This is a key issue in philanthropy, did you know? If you want someone to really fall in love with your issue -- not just give money, but to really bond with it and take it into their hearts.... ask for their help. (And I don't mean in a pitiable fashion.) Helping someone engages and invests you in their success; we're programmed that way as social/tribal creatures.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:43 AM on December 5, 2011


What a good man! And what a helpful comment!
posted by onlyconnect at 2:04 PM on December 5, 2011


I would also point out that you may have to remind yourself every once in a while of why you're doing what you're doing. But it really is, amazingly, as simple as making a conscious decision to give a little more of yourself. The rewards are simple and quiet and priceless.
posted by Mister_A at 5:40 PM on December 5, 2011


This is the Way of Heaven: do your best work, then step back quietly.
posted by Rumple at 9:46 PM on December 5, 2011


pharm: Now I want to know exactly what it was that the poster thought you should do with an ant queen that asavage thought was worth his only favourite :)

One of these, I think the second one with the ants on the worm.
posted by mendel at 2:00 PM on December 6, 2011


I think asavage might be going over his health + safety assessments right now...
posted by pharm at 1:32 AM on December 7, 2011


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