Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thinking Out Loud

“I’m just a waitress.” She said.

“Really.” The customer replied.

She had a bit of a cheerless expression when she said, “Yeah. I just serve food.”

He smiled, “Do you really know what you do?” She cocked her head to the side and her brows furrowed. “You’re a pretty important person. You provide a service so people can get away from their homes after a long day of working when they’re too tired or distracted to provide for themselves. So, instead of making Mac and Cheese, they come to see you to get a healthy meal, a break from having to take care of themselves and for them feel important and special for a little while.” He continued to smile. “That seems pretty important to me.”

She smiled and responded, “I never thought of it that way before.” She turned to leave the table with a bit of a skip in her step.

I had a thought.

More than anything else, we are what we think. Two things came from the conversation I had with the waitress that day. Firstly, how we view other people and their roles in the societal fabric can make their day or bring them down. Further, how we think of them says more about us than it does about them. More importantly though, how we view ourselves determines how we feel as we make our way through life.

The words I use to describe myself determines who I am. If I use phrases like “I'm just this” or “I'm only that”, I will always feel inferior. Worse, if I berate myself and call myself a "screw up" or an "idiot" or "stupid", I am only being derogatory to me. Those who really care about me and see me for who I am wouldn't agree. No-one else matters.

There are enough people in the world willing to put us down without doing it to ourself.

We need people in all roles to keep our society moving along. The ditch digger who keeps the water out of our basements so we aren’t assaulted by stagnant, infected water is as important as the engineer who designed the ditch in the first place. That ditch digger who keeps disease away is as important to our health as the doctor who gives us our annual check-up.

We are stuck with a useless plan or idea without people to carry out the tasks to create those plans and ideas.

Each of us is as important to the fabric of our society as any other person. How we think about what we do is significant. If I see the big picture and realise I am providing someone with a service they are unable to perform themselves, then I will feel more important and necessary.

Sometimes, though, it’s fitting to remind people of their importance. It’s never a bad time to lift someone’s spirits by pointing out the implications of the service they provide. The waitress and the cook and the restaurant owner and the dishwasher and the busboy all give me an outlet to get away from my world. They provide an opportunity for me, the customer, to feel special. Our lives would be significantly different if we had to “do it all” ourselves all of the time.

It's important to recognise our roles go much farther than what we see on the surface.

It wasn’t lost on me either that I received some pretty good service that night as I enjoyed my meal.


Friday, 22 February 2013

The Chosen Ones

Pick me!

I heard years ago, “It’s not a trip until there is a U-turn”. At times my posts have a propensity to meander in a similar manner.

By my count of U-turns, my Sweetie and I made about fourteen trips last night. 

We were out in the world picking up a few things late afternoon yesterday. As it became dark, the numbers on the houses we were searching for became more difficult to see and the result was a litany of reversals. I was reminded of my days as a pizza delivery dude about ~mumble mumble~ years ago (in high school) when customers would order pizza and not turn their porch lights on. I found it astounding when they would complain the pizza was cold. Really? You didn’t think I might have to find your house to deliver the pie?

Makes me wonder how often we run around in the dark.

I was pretty grateful for having company with me while I roamed the streets trying to pick out the right house. We kibitz, laugh, swear at other drivers, get sworn at and sometimes get lost in our own town. A compatible travel companion is essential to enjoying any trip, long or short. Having Shelley with me any time I run errands makes time fly and is much more entertaining than riding alone. 

Having “chosen family” in our lives is emotionally stabilizing. Choice is the key, of course. Blood relatives come in all shapes, sizes and manner of being. Despite all efforts to not get into a heated political discussion with uncle Neb at Christmas dinner or to avoid sibling rivalries tainting the annual family picnic, it just happens. There are no guarantees with blood relations and more often than not, they know how to push your buttons... and some do every chance they get.

Chosen family are often preferable to blood relatives.

There are differing levels of emotional relationship with people in our lives. Think of it as if you’re in the centre of a bunch of circles (called circles of influence). Those whom you hold closest to you emotionally are in the “inner circle”, which is where the term comes from. People whom you hold more emotionally distant appear in circles further from the centre. The people in the closest circles are the ones most important in our lives and know us best.

The people I choose to surround myself with reflect who I am and what I believe. More often than not, the people I choose to hold closest to me affect my life much more in my later years than kith and kin. And sometimes, those people I choose to remain closest to are blood family. Aunt Martha’s propensity for pinching my cheek until she draws blood keeps her at a distance.

We don't just choose actions in our lives. We choose people as well. Those choices affect our lives as much as any decision we make.

Now if I could only manage to find this last house to pick up an antique lawn trimmer, I’d be all set. Why did we need the lawn trimmer?

At least I have the chosen one with me.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Charge of the White Brigade

I had to go.

There was a winter tempest here yesterday not unlike many other areas north of the Mason-Dixon that have been callously spanked by Old Man Winter. It wasn’t the only snowstorm recently and it was a nasty one with freezing rain followed by heavy blowing snow followed by “holy crap” under-the-breath mutterings as my paramour and I stared out the window at a David Copperfield landscape. (It kept disappearing and reappearing behind a white shroud.)

I ventured out in the Old Man’s blustery antipathy as a result of either poor planning or faux truculent bravado or simply trying to make sure I got the stuff I “needed” before a sale at the hardware ended at six o’clock. I put off purchasing the sale items until the last minute. I probably shouldn’t have been out there... sale or no sale.

I have a propensity for being a master procrastinator.

Our basement flooded on Boxing Day; floors ripped up, bathroom gutted, assorted articles of varying importance now destined for a refuse dump and a need to replace a boat load of goodies. After the clean-up, it’s been a bit of a struggle getting the insurance company to get around to putting our world back together. Part of the reason is my own fault because we want to make a few changes while the basement is a blank canvas of sorts. At least, that’s the excuse I’m mentally married to as justification for my procrastination.

We needed three new doors and a vanity... the doors were on sale... until yesterday... at six o’clock... in a blizzard... and I was outdoors trudging through the snow in a 4 x 4 open sleigh.

There’s just no accounting for testosterone induced stupidity.

While I was “out there” trying to determine why I wasn’t “in here” (and speculating why the damned road kept disappearing), I also began to wonder what it was that drives us to do things we really shouldn’t do. I wasn’t the only one out there. There were cars stuck in driveways, snow blowers clearing paths, city plows burying cars along the side of the road, vehicles spinning sideways on icy hills and yours truly negotiating the snow encumbered city streets. At least I think I was on the streets.

Smart money would have us all living within three hundred miles of the equator in breeze wafted grass huts sipping margaritas and laying in the sand holding our Sweetie’s hand. Of course, our ancestors had some need to venture forth into the vast unknown. That curiosity and a necessity to find more food sources as the population grew landed us here where it’s inhospitable four to six months a year. Oh yeah... And the British wanted beaver pelts for hats.

I wonder whom I should thank.

We have an intrinsic need to better our lives which is how I ended up driving around blustery streets to get doors on sale cause they look pretty and they’re cheap. Well, that and I love my Honey and she wanted those doors.

It seems we will go to great lengths to acquire what we think we need. Often though, what we really need is already waiting at home for us making us dinner and anticipating our return from a gallant foray into regions best left to sled dogs and polar bears.

Perhaps what I really need is to retune my priorities.

I got the doors and vanity, returned home with a smile and hugged my Sweetie when I arrived. I know what it is I really need and she was happy to see me home.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Dichotomy of Being

"This is who I am and if you don’t like it, piss off."

The above statement is a cop out.

Everything changes. For many of us, the rate of change in this technologically advanced world is too much to keep up with. There is another way of looking at change, though. Did you know we are a completely new person every seven years? Every cell in our bodies is replaced by the end of seven years... no exceptions. So, to state that you are the person you have always been is a misconception. You can’t be the same person nor is it possible to remain the same despite our best guarded efforts.

Living life means learning new things which encourage change.

Far too often we stand on the soap box of self-righteousness proclaiming our indifference to those who don’t except every moral, ethical and emotional fiber of who we are. All we really accomplish when we stand on the soap box is:

  • Provide ourselves a greater distance to fall,
  • Throw up barriers to preclude anyone from getting too close and,
  • Allow us to perpetuate self destructive behaviour, without interference, so we don't have to face the issue that is causing our self-defeat

While “I am who I am” is a truth, there is an element of danger in its utterance. The truth part is simple enough to understand. When I say, “I am who I am” it’s a statement of my being at this moment. It's an affirmation that who I am matters.

The dangerous part of the statement is when it is used in defence. Like the opening statement, when I use the phrase “I am who I am” to defend a self-defeating tendency, the only person I am lying to is me. Everyone else knows I can change the predisposition. I’m the only one denying it.

Belligerently stating “I am who I am” in referrence to self- deprication really means “I am quite happy destroying myself so leave me the hell alone to stay stuck in this self-depricating place I've gotten accustomed to and let me wallow in my self pity”.

If I stand on the premise that “I am who I am and that’s just the way it is”, I am really telling myself it’s okay for me to remain stuck in this rotten place. Truthfully, it IS okay to stay stuck there. I just can't expect the people who really care about me to stand by and watch it happen.

The only person who can make a change for the better in myself is me. In the end, if I decide to defend my self-destructive behaviour, all I accomplish is being stuck in a cesspool of self-righteousness while those around me happily move forward... and leave me behind.

Ultimately, it means I have become the weakest link in my own well-being.