A Bad Start
I am trying, but it has been hard, to stay positive in 2013. A couple bad starts and some spill over from 2012 can spoil the whole bushel. This got me to thinking that, despite Michael Jackson’s protestations, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. I promised myself earlier today that I would try really hard to not be so pissed off – about politics or fake religions, taxes or car insurance… It will be really hard, but I am promising to try. And to that end, I’d like to share a few thoughts…
I read blog post after blog post and comment after comment that seem to be filled with rage and negativity or the waging of battle – I do it, too. It often feels like swords are drawn with gauntlets thrown down. I struggle with this because while these are things we need to read or to hear – but – there is enough hate. There is something to be said for trying to be rational in both information share and information bashing. We often write or post what we want to hear, we write about our own lives, our own work, our own pain. We share because we do not want to be alone in our worry or pain or our angst.
I understand the purpose of incite (to goad, rouse, provoke, inflame). Is it to rile up the reader or others who comment so they join forces with you, perhaps even to to support an unreasonable or unfashionable claim or to test the waters and find communities of those with the same belief system(s). There is probably a better way to go about this, but why work so hard? Because running into a crowded movie house and yelling fire may open a seat for you, but what does it do to the others? Do you care? Being inciteful has cost me; I care and I have lost Facebook friends over it – but were they real friends if they couldn’t tolerate my feelings or worries? And I have been and are worried. I am deeply concerned about many different issues – some spill absently into others, like politics and taxes.
My Cream of Wheat Story (AKA “making mom mad”)
My mom used to make Cream of Wheat when I was a kid. I loved it. I loved to dip my toast in it, with butter melting and splashes of milk and sugar here and there. I loved to prep my Cream of Wheat; I had it down to a perfect science. However, when I left home, I left behind Cream of Wheat, hot cereal, and “mush”. Other than occasionally serving quick oatmeal, I have never made it for my kids. Never. I lacked the time and patience required to get it just right and I feared/knew they would not like it. That fear determined my inability to patiently “train” my kids to like Cream of Wheat like my mother had done – instead I longed for peaceful school mornings that didn’t include begging them to eat and eat fast so we could get out the door on time. Enter Eggos and Pop Tarts.
One time, on a visit to my mom’s, she made Cream of Wheat for breakfast. I explained to her that my kids would not be eating Cream of Wheat, but did she have some cold cereal I could serve them? I tried to explain that they had never had it before and it wasn’t something you could just jump right in and eat without having built up an immunity first. I laughed meekly – she didn’t. I just knew my kids would not like it and staunchly declare it to be, “Gross!” And let’s be frank, it is gross. Especially to someone who has never eaten it, never seen it, and never even heard of it. These three “nevers” applied to all four of my children. My mom was hurt and angry. I tried to explain, but it only seemed to make things worse.
That day, it was never resolved – I think I packed them up and went off to Starbucks for a slice of “classic coffee cake”. As much as my mom wanted me to follow in her footsteps, I had not. A good lesson to remember as my children traipse their way through adulthood, not doing what I want them to do.
When to say When
Knowing when to engage in a sure-to-be-difficult discussion is just as important as raising issues. I write, post, update, tweet, and comment because I consistently need (and try to give) positive re-enforcement, motivation, or impetus for daily survival in the race we call life and work. And so, while negativity often seems like a good idea, it usually isn’t. It is a force that drives people away from each other rather than toward. Fueling a healthy discussion is one thing, inciting an unnecessary war is another. My most important resolution just became real: Be Purposeful. I will try to be that and then mindful of that purpose, making that purpose sure…