Archives for November, 2012
Stranger things have happened. This is one of my favorite things to say. It’s hopeful, but not giddy. Cautiously optimistic. Optimism for pessimists. It's a shrug of the shoulders, a little bit superstitious. You don't want to be too confident but, you know...it could happen. Stranger things have. And almost no matter what you’re talking about, it’s true. All kinds of strange stuff happens every day, so unless you’re talking about the Rapture, there’s a good chance that something stranger than whatever is under discussion has happened at some point in time.
Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Yeah, sure, I get it. Change is risky. You could go from the frying pan to the fire. From bad to worse. But still—the devil? If you know you’re dealing with Lucifer himself, isn’t it wise to at least toy with idea of getting the hell out of there? “Better the devil you know” seems an argument for stasis. It suggests that since there are no guarantees, you might as well just suck it up and stay stuck with the devil. Isn’t that setting the bar a little low?
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. – Epictetus I bought a new car yesterday. This is a BFD because I drive my cars until they crumble around me. I've been driving a 1994 Accord since 1997. (Those babies go forever.) By the end of our relationship, the bumper was held on with tape and it was in the throes of a two-year death rattle. Most of my friends had experienced some sort of breakdown adventure with me. But I drove my jalopy with pride. It was my badge of anti-consumerism. (Plus, no car payment. I loved that.) OK, I was a little embarrassed valet parking it at the Ritz-Carlton the other day, where I went for a business lunch, but at least when they brought it to me, the side with the taped-on bumper was facing away from the crowd. But otherwise, I don’t need no fancypants car. I'm not a particularly high-wants person when it comes to possessions. I’m greedy about experiences, but ho-hum about stuff.
The truth will set you free. – John 8:32 I’m not one to quote chapter and verse often (ever), but this tidbit is too wise to ignore. I am taking it entirely out of context here so if you want to tell me where it fits into Scripture, please feel free. But aside from all that—yes, yes, yes. And I’m not talking about that tangled web we weave when we lie to other people. That’s a whole other mess. I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves—the most powerful, potent, and difficult to address lies. Lies like, “I’m happy.” Or, “I have a great job that I love.” Or, “If I had a different relationship, I would be happy.” Or, “If I do things this way, I can keep everyone happy.” Or, “I’m OK as long as you’re OK.” Lies, lies, lies.
What goes around comes around. Yeah, if only. This comforting quote suggests that revenge is not necessary because karma is a bitch. That person who did you wrong? He'll get his eventually because, you know, what goes around comes around. So just sit back and wait because it’s only a matter of time. I want to buy it, but I don’t. I've seen plenty of people do plenty of crummy things and get off without so much as a psychic bruise. Well, OK, maybe they’re crying on the inside, but on the outside, they’re just going blithely along doing more crummy things.
Living well is the best revenge. A fine credo to live by. Noble, even. And win-win. You get your fine life, and you don’t debase yourself with some sort of tawdry act of revenge. And the other guy doesn't have vengeance rain down on him. I am not by nature a vengeful person. Which is not to say that I don’t hold grudges and fantasize about vengeance. But I don't do anything about it. Instead, I say, “Living well is the best revenge,” and stay honest. And smug. I'm taking the high road. I'm keepin' it healthy. But “living well is the best revenge” is like fruit for dessert. It’s tasty and it's good for you, but it’s not chocolate. Chocolate is desert. Fruit is a mere stand-in. Unless it has chocolate on it. Then, it's sweet revenge.
The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. Don’t give up.—The Internet* Usually? Really? Usually when the miracle happens? If miracles are usual, are they really miracles? This is one of those squishy motivational quotes that goes around the Internet and makes people feel good, but that has no real substance at all. Scrutinize them too hard and they melt into a sticky mess, like strawberry ice cream on a hot sidewalk. Nothing against perseverance, I’m 100 percent in favor of it. But a quote that guarantees a miracle is lying to you.
I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I haven’t. –Lucille Ball I’m taking the Internet’s word that Lucille Ball said this, although surely someone must have said it before her. I did find a similar (typically verbose) quote from Henry James: “I don’t regret a single ‘excess’ of my responsive youth—I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.” When I last wrote about regret, the shorter sentiment was mentioned by several readers as a favorite quote to live by. I see the appeal. It’s so…active. So devil may care. So make it happen and caution to the wind.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. -- Susan J. Jeffers This is the title of a self-help classic I read in 1987, when it first came out. I don’t remember much about the book, but the title stuck with me because it's such a useful concept. Now I’m reading a helpful book called The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher G. Germer that, at least what I’ve read so far, puts a yoga-esque, Buddhist-ish, new millennium-like spin on a similar concept. The gist of both books is to feel what you feel. You can’t run or hide from emotions and so you might as well just have them. Accept them. Let them course through your body. And don’t hate them. Emotions aren’t bad or good. They just are. They might be comfortable and uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable never killed anyone.