Time and again—and that is an understatement—my wife, Diane, focuses relevance. Many would experience her being quiet and reflective. That’s true. And for certain, now as we head toward our tenth wedding anniversary [I realize it’s nine months ahead, but hey, what’s a clock when you’re having the time of your life in a relationship beyond dreams but not beyond your reality?] she would not be a screamer or sulk in the shadowed corner of silence. Had plenty of that and don’t need it.
In reading through a recent blog, Diane asked, “Are you selecting a personal goal for 2011?”
I shared what that is and told her it was triggered by two questions she had asked. Questions that perhaps more than any other, in almost every instance, especially the untoward and conflicted but not short of the glorious are relevant.
Her questions: “Is this really important? Does it matter?”
A paragraph back story, almost mentioned, although surface-level factoring, in recent blogs: my management of anger is a Mt. Everest. Not sure it ever was a mole hill.
And if I wanted, I could identify one of its sources, a family member who was uncanny on never forgetting when someone caused a problem. Memory to the hour of the day of the year, even though it might have happened 30 years previously.
Might label it, Keeping a record of wrongs.
I know that I’m not alone in this, that almost everyone has trouble letting go when someone tries to do you in…and succeeds!
A record of wrongs. Probably the chapter heading on that book of woes and weaknesses [they are both, mind you] is when I’ve done something for someone, not to be recognized in a bold way, but at least to get a glimpse of gratitude. And it doesn’t happen.
Yep, that’s what has been real, and at times wears the hat of tormentor: spending time, giving effort, focused in purpose all for another person and then not having one word of hey, thanks for taking the time on my behalf.
Now I realize the best revenge is doing some good and doing it well. And it may be, short of deep therapy this is only speculative, my taking time to thank others is a way of over-compensating for the times I’m left standing there unthanked, flooded by someone’s ingratitude.
I share an example of my revenge and this is so trite it may border on silliness: we took my cousin, Molly, to Austin’s most famous BBQ place, the Salt Lick. Classic—open pit as you enter, “all you can eat” menu and for sure, the world’s finest blackberry cobbler, even in December.
Salt Lick was crowded, so there was a policeman directing traffic in order for people to check in. Now, that’s a real definition of crowded.
I stopped and asked, “Does anyone ever thank you for helping the traffic flow?” His first response was almost a startled look, like I was a ghost. He then raised his eyebrows—maybe wanting to know my ulterior motive in asking that—then shook his head, looked down and muttered, “Practically never.”
I simply said, “Well, then, this is an exception to the never-hear-it-syndrome: thank you. What you are doing makes it better and safer for all of us.”
No big deal…but he looked and then nodded, “Wow, why did you stop for me?”
I smiled, “That will help the blackberry cobbler taste better, because I’ve regarded someone else.”
I’m not really sure why I said that, but I did mean that I always feel better when I regard someone for something they’ve done, from which I’ve benefitted.
But, many don’t or won’t or can’t.
So, back to Diane’s question, “Mark, is it really important? Does it matter?”
Her questions will be my companions in 2011.
What I’m hoping…and even more, planning…is that when tomorrow morning dawns, January 1, 2011, those questions will be dominating…whether experiences are good or bad, beneficial or detrimental, helpful or harmful, “life-ing” or “death-ing.”
For 2011 Diane’s two questions will be my high on my bucket list…a bucket list of attitude and temperament and memory. And who knows, maybe, just maybe I can have selective memory loss.
Now, that’s not such a bad thing, is it?