This morning, after staying up extremely late writing, I heard the words “straight from the conscience” and “stop the recrimination.”
I don’t hear voices, but I take the words that float into my head seriously. And when my conscience speaks, I listen.
As I tried to divine what these phrases might mean, I also heard “clear the cache.”
I had cleared the cache on my laptop last night after Blogger started acting wonky. For those of you even less familiar with tech-speak than I am, a computer’s cache is “an auxiliary memory from which high-speed retrieval is possible.” When web pages go in your cache, versions of them get saved so you can bring them up in your browser quickly, but those versions may not be the most current. Clearing the cache frequently ensures that you always see the latest iteration.
The non-computing meaning of cache is “a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place,” and cache can also be a verb, meaning “store away in hiding or for future use.” And this where recrimination comes in.
A recrimination is “an accusation in response to one from someone else,” or a kind of automatic, aggressively defensive reaction when someone tells us we’ve done something wrong. Recriminations are the antithesis of taking the high road and only serve to drag the dialogue down to the gutter and flood it with the effluvium of contempt.
Criticism rarely plays well with anyone. It hurts when it’s not true and stings even more deeply when it is. The psyche has built up a siege wall to fend off character assaults and reflexively fires the catapult when flaming arrows fly over the parapets.
Clearing the cache, in the psychological sense, means trashing the self’s old, outdated versions, so we can be open to the growth that results from learning things about ourselves we’d rather not hear and steadfastly avoid confronting.
It’s much easier to clear the cache on our computers by clicking a button or two than to take the step of acknowledging our need to evolve, to shed our skins periodically, swap out a tail for legs, and continuously adopt new ways of thinking and being.
So take today to clear your cache, stop the recrimination, and break the cycle that causes relationships to crash beyond rebootability and suffer the blue screen of death.
Thomas G. Fiffer is a graduate of Yale and holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He posts daily on his blog, Tom Aplomb, and serves as Ethics Editor at The Good Men Project and Editor of Westport HamletHub, a local online news and information service. In addition, he provides life coaching and motivational speaking, is a featured storyteller with MouseMuse Productions, and is working on his first novel.