Tag Archives: attitude

The Domino Effect   

I wrote this back in January 2014.  I hope you don’t mind. I just couldn’t come up with a new post this week.  I hope I will be forgiven . . .

I want to say something profound and memorable.  I wanted my first full post of 2014 to be something people spoke about to each other for days and weeks.  And then I realized I had it all wrong.  It’s not about the words I use.  It’s not about how I feel about what I write.  It’s about reaching out from the isolation of my home to the world. We are not alone.  We never have been.

I’m a big believer in the importance of chance.  You meet a stranger on the street and you smile in an abstract, bored sort of way.  The person you smile at doesn’t realize you are bored and his spirits are lifted just a tiny bit and when he gets home to his wife, he’s kinder.  His wife spends a little longer getting dressed that night because she’s starting to believe she’s beautiful because her husband was kind.  She speaks gently to her child that night and he goes to sleep feeling loved.  The next day he goes to school and does exceptionally well on a test because he feels good about himself.  His teacher is thrilled that her problem student has done well and she feels better about herself thinking she’s the reason.  She goes home that night . . . All of this happened because one woman smiled at a stranger.  It’s a domino effect.

We live on this little blue world made of dirt and water and people.  There are a lot of us.  There are wars and hunger, violence and apathy.  Every day we deal with our own perceived inadequacies, our own diseases.  But there’s one thing we must never forget: somewhere, someone is in much worse shape than we are.  Somewhere, someone is watching their life blood seep through a gaping wound, alone and frightened.  Somewhere, someone is watching as a loved one slowly succumbs to a painful and deadly disease.  A woman is raped and beaten, killed.  A man is shot dead by a stranger for his empty wallet.  A woman feels the hands of a lover on her throat tightening. Children are shot by children, men and women are tortured, planes crash, people are dying of hunger, disease and greed.

You have a choice.  I have a choice.  We can give in, be victims and wallow in our own self-pity.  Or we can take what quality of life we have, embrace it, relish it, enhance it if we can, and live.  Reach out to the stranger next to you and smile.  We are all in this together

 

Teach Your Children Well

It is a line within a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young that popped into my head the other day.  The title is ‘Teach Your Children’ and it was out in the seventies. It was good advice then and it’s good advice now.  Actually, if we don’t do it right, we are dooming ourselves, our species.

We screwed up. Racism, poverty, intolerance.  These are fixable issues.  They truly are.  So why are people still dying?    It is happening because of greed, apathy and intolerance.  Learned attributes.    So, what do we do?  We teach our children to love, how to show compassion. We teach them the truth:  we are ALL important.  Each and every one of us.  That is a truth too many try to hide with their hatred.

Many years ago, two different groups of children were introduced to each other. They spent a week or so, in each other’s company.  They only learned the other’s names, no backgrounds.  Eventually it was discovered that one group was from Northern Ireland, the other from England.  They didn’t know that they were supposed to hate each other.  They truly did become friends. I couldn’t find the experiment on-line so maybe I dreamed it but I do not believe so. I read it many, many years ago and it stuck with me.  Hate is taught to our children.  And we teach it.

Okay, okay not all of us are so narrow minded that we instil our biases in our young but it happens far too much. If we can change that, we can make an enormous leap towards global acceptance.   It is probably pretty close to impossible to change the attitude of many of the adults. That may simply be because they have lived so long with their hatred, some don’t know to survive without it.  That doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Old dogs can be taught new tricks.

With everything that has been going on in the last few weeks it is no surprise we have reached a boiling point.  The pandemic has lit the match on an already volatile society.  We are cooped up and tensions are high.  But the problems are not new ones, just old ones we refused to face.

If we want a future, a viable future, we must change. It must start with the children.  Teach your children well.

 

 

Teach Your Children

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

 

Some People

Several years ago, I was sitting outside a mall in the sun with a friend. Both of us were in wheelchairs. It was a good day; we had made some great purchases and we are laughing, enjoying life.  When a complete stranger, an elderly woman (I swear she was pushing 200) approached us. Specifically, she approached me. She tapped me on my knee and said “It is so nice to see you out dear”. Without any reaction I replied “thank you” and then watched this antique specimen of female kind totter into the mall.

While I was still in a state of near shock I glanced over at my friend. I’m pretty sure her expression mirrored mine. Then we both started laughing. She pointed out that I showed great restraint. When I stopped choking through my mirth, I replied that given her age I’m pretty sure she meant well.

We have all been in situations where the reactions of other people are perceived to be condescending or patronizing. I have strong reactions to both. And since I am no longer that shy six-year-old, I can be quite pointed in my response.

When I returned home, I was inspired to write a piece called Conversational Comebacks. Some people saw the absurdity of the whole idea but others did not. And that is where my use of the moniker ‘Some People’ came from.

Especially with what is going around in the world today it is surprising how many ‘Some People’ are out there. They act as if they are the only ones inconvenienced by this pandemic. Inconvenienced. Now there’s a word that can get me going on a rant. But I digress.

In the world of the ‘witty comeback’ few people are consistently good at it.  And of course, how many of us come up an absolutely brilliant retort hours or even days after the original comment.  It loses something when you finally get the courage to say it.  To that end I compiled a list of witty, hopefully pithy, remarks that may find a home in your conversations.

I eventually repurposed my Conversational Comebacks into Shady Quips. There had to be a few changes to make it palatable and I have continued to add to the list. Here are a few examples of my original ‘Comebacks’. If I offend, I apologize. If I make you laugh, well, that is my goal.

  1. In a battle of wits, you are unarmed.
  2. I love what you’ve done with your face, is it new?
  3. You look like the before picture in an emergency make-over.
  4. So, you failed your personality test.
  5. If appearances are everything honey, then you’ve got nothing.
  6. Where did you find your personality, the refuse bin?
  7. They say that Homo sapiens and the common chimpanzee are closely related; in you I can see the resemblance.
  8. Our species was once a single cell born in the primordial sludge three billion years ago. You seem to be reverting back.
  9. Are you related to the Syrian wild ass or are you just a common bigoted ass?
  10. You have a winning smile and a losing personality.
  11. I didn’t think minds could be that narrow.
  12. Did you study hard to be an idiot or does it come naturally.

Whew, that felt good to get it out!  Regularly scheduled posts will now continue.  Thank you for your patience.

 

A Moment of Introspection

Late this morning I was on my balcony feeling a little sorry for myself.  There was no real need. I’m healthy, I am safe and I have all my needs met, except for one. I enjoy spending time on my own. I can write when I’m alone. I can paint when I’m alone. I can watch TV or read. At my fingertips I have the entire world on the Internet. But there’s one thing I cannot have:  people. I miss people. I missed seeing them on the street and in the shops. But not seeing them is a small price to pay for keeping us healthy. It’s the least I can do.

As I was looking out over my balcony, I was aware that I was alone. There was no one in sight. This is a busy intersection and there are usually a lot of people and cars and noise. But today I could hear clearly the birds chirping away in, what I can only assume is, a song of joy. They are not competing with the fumes generated by cars or the cacophony of voices that accompanies any large group of people. The air is clear and the faint breeze is sweet.

At a distance I can hear a car. But it is not close. There are no planes in the air or trains in the background.  A Security car has just stopped outside my bank. I can see him. He’s all alone. He only stays for a moment and then leaves. A solitary car pulls up into the empty parking lot and I can see through its windows that there are two passengers.  I watch as she don’s gloves before she enters the empty bank. There’s a bank machine there. Within moments they too were gone. I can see birds flying free and unencumbered. This is a moment of introspection.

People are worried and rightly so. The last pandemic of this magnitude was in 1918. It lasted from January 1918 to December 1920. Infected 500 million people, about one quarter of the world’s population at the time. 102 years ago. Have we learned enough to combat this one? Over 1 million people in the world have been infected so far. Out of 7 billion!

Church bells are ringing in support of those on the front lines. I see videos and hear stories of people coming out onto their balconies or at the end of their driveways and singing. They’re making noise. They are rejoicing in being alive. They are refusing to give up or to give in. We will survive this. Our planet will have time to heal and we will have time to take stock.  What really is important in our lives, in our world? Maybe now we’ll learn the truth.

We are not isolating ourselves; we are distancing ourselves. It is a huge difference. And that is what will keep us together. I hope it will bring us closer as individuals and as a species. Be well.

The Value of Failure

We’ve all done it. Some more than others of course. But it is part of the learning curve. Some successes were only possible because of the failure that preceded it. So why are we so afraid of it?

Nowadays it seems we don’t want to teach our children the value of failure. There’s a lovely story I refer to quite often about an older man taking his grandchild to a skating rink for the first time.  The man holds the young boy’s hands to get him on the ice and then throws his own arms into the air and says “fall down”. Of course, little boy does. The grandfather repeats this a few more times until the boy asks his grandfather ‘why?”. His reply surprised me when I first heard it: “It is to teach you not to be afraid to fall. You’ve already done it.”  Brilliant!

We fear what we do not know.  Our children need to understand that failure is something we all need to experience. If they don’t learn to deal with it when they are young, it can be devastating as an adult. Our lives are full of adversity. Along with failure and disappointment and confusion and…. It is also full of wonder and beauty and joy. There is a balance between the two that can be difficult to comprehend if you’re not exposed to it as a child.  I learned failure when I was young. My parents allowed me to fail, they didn’t shield me from it. But they were always there in the aftermath. That is good parenting.

I see too many young adults now who exhibit feelings of empowerment and entitlement. When someone disagrees with them, they are crushed and unable to handle it. They have lived charmed lives.  We all want what is best for our progeny. We want them to know only joy and success. But a false sense of security can before more damaging than the truth.

We inoculate our children against diseases that we know could be so incredibly harmful if they contracted them as adults. So why aren’t we doing the same thing with life. And how exactly do you measure success? Is it by how much money you have earned or awards you have received, or perhaps by the number people you have touched positively? I know what I use.