Going to the mat not always the best course

 

 

Not everything is a big deal.

The other day, while sitting around with a couple of very good friends, the subject of tattoos came up.

Recently the mother and daughter had a very personal message added to their bodies – each reflected in the handwriting of the other. Tastefully done and ripe with sincerity, they will share this connection for the remainder of their lives.

The father, however, walks the earth with an unmarked canvas.

“How do you feel about tattoos,” the question came up to him.

Pausing, he gave a remarkably honest and enlightened response.

“I’m not crazy about them, but they sure aren’t a ‘go to the mat’ type of issue,” he said.

After spending a few more minutes on the subject, we moved on. But his words of how not everything in life demands a polarizing decision, hung around in the air. I thought about his perspective – and the lesson we all eventually learn to practice over time.

Like most couples, when my wife and I we newly married, we had out ‘top of the toothpaste’ issues. And being young, we thought everything needed attention, negotiation, and resolution. After all, every relationship expert espoused the need to air everything out – to always address a disagreement or issue before it leads to bigger things.

Well, my wife and I did just that – me driving her to madness with my male tendencies of leaving wet sweaty clothes on the floor or me hearing but not listening to what she’d said. Learning to be a couple – probably for most everyone – is a process for both sides.

Which is what brings me back to my friend’s remark – or perspective – of ‘is it worth going to the mat for’.

The more miles (years) I find myself putting on, the fewer things I really find all that important. Early in maturity I think we all focus on discovering who were are – many times driven by what affinities define us. Our style of dress, the people we hang out with, or the things we do – each puts us in a ‘club’ allowing us to feel as if we belong to a segment of society.

But today I really don’t feel to concerned about anything of that nature. Over time my wife and I have learned what countless other couples who’ve come before us cued in on – there really aren’t too many things worth getting wound up about. A relationship is about learning to let the other person be themselves – to grow in the direction the wind blows. Being a couple is accepting each other so long as the relationship is based on love, respect, and devotion to the other.

A tattoo doesn’t change that.

My friend’s words are a slice of wisdom I think we should all carry with us. To judge or impose our beliefs on another is selfish. If we really love one another our goal should be to live for their happiness – not ours.

Going to the mat should be respected and reserved only for an issue in which challenge the integrity of two people living as one. And learning to live together – long term – is about just that.

 

– 30 – 

 

 

 

 

Meeting the Good Humor Man Refreshing

Recently I ran into myself at a local convenience store.

A tall young man stood behind the counter as I approached. With a wrinkled t-shirt and unkempt hair on the top of his head, his eyes widened.

“Dude,” he said in dead-on voice from the character Jeff Spicoli in the 1980’s film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  “Are you me from the future?”

Confused, I paused to process his unusual greeting.

“Excuse me?”  I said.

Pointing to the straggly, spiky hair on top of his head with the index fingers from both hands he repeated his words.

“Dude, are you me from the future? We’ve the same hair.”

Considering he was a college student (just like both of mine are) the timeline was possible. The red hair, however, was a stretch.

“Why, yes I am,” I said. “And furthermore, your life is going to be awesome.”

Falling backwards as if pushed back by a unexpected gust of wind, he turned to the other employees behind the counter.

“Did you hear that?” he said. “My life is going to be awesome, dudes!”

The young girl at the next register rolled her eyes, probably familiar with my animated friend. Customers, on the other hand, seemed a bit confused at our exchange but smiled all the same.

I’ll be honest, this guy’s performance made my day. I don’t know if he was a theater student or someone who lived a life like a bit too close to his movie twin, but regardless, he made me – and others – smile that night.

Inside the store there were probably a half-dozen strangers each with a different story behind them. All of us faced a different set of circumstances throughout out the day – some better than others. But on this day, this young man was taking just an ordinary moment in life and making it memorable to others.

We can all get a bit wound too tight. Levity, a rarely used word these days, offers us an opportunity to inject a bit of humor or self-deprecation into our world for the benefit of others.

My friend, the one with the red spiky hair and surfer dialect, led me down an aisle in search of the items I’d asked him about earlier. His character, however, never fully left our side.

Being a Friday, I’d just wrapped up a week of work and poured another couple hours behind the wheel. A laugh was what I needed more than anything else on the shelves.

Showing me an item related to what I’d requested, he handed it to me to examine. After telling me a few interesting details about the product, I bit.

“Sounds good,” I said. “I’ll try it.”

Suddenly, Jeff Spicoli returned in full force.

“Dude,” he said, “I’m beginning to question if you really are me from the future.”

“Why is that?” I said.

“Well, if you really are me from the future – like you say you are – you’d have already tried this product, right?”

At that moment we both broke out laughing – washing away any lingering stress or noise from my long week.

While I may never meet this young man again, I will always remember his lesson of how a well timed shot of humor can help others leave their troubles behind.

– 30 –

DC Mess Embarassing

 

In case you missed it, America’s federal government shut down last week.

A recent poll suggests 60% of the American public would like to see everyone in Congress fired and replaced. Furthermore, even the president is not getting out of this unscathed as his approval ratings are at historic lows. Rumor is Webster’s Dictionary is considering altering the definition of the word ‘dysfunctional’ to include a reference to politics inside the Washington beltway in order to better illustrate the point.

Unfortunately we are simply watching another chapter of the modern day Keystone Cops – only this one features a grumpy man with what appears to be a spray-on tan and another who speaks in a staccato rhythm of three or four-word sound bites. The supporting cast is in the thousands. And just when you think it is as crazy as it can get, there are walk-on appearances from pseudo-celebrities voicing their opinions.

The United States likes to promote and champion democratic principles around the world – even taking up the flag of such to topple other governments. Well, how do you think we’re doing from a sales standpoint when our own government can’t seem to work itself out of a paper bag – letting the entire federal government slip into shutdown over politics? “Yeah, sign me up” is probably not coming to mind in third-world nations looking to us as inspiration or model.

I am an equal-opportunity offender here – I’m not happy with anyone associated with the mess we find ourselves in today. I simply don’t understand how egos can allow our government to run aground during such tenuous economic times. Please spare me the details – the big picture is DC seems to be playing a convoluted game of high-stakes poker with everyone else’s money and future.

History serves to remind us that just because you disagree, you can learn to find a solution in a civilize manner. A great case in point would be the unusual friendship of President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil. One would be pressed to find two men with more divergent opinions of government’s role in the lives of the people.  However, when it really got down to it, each would put the interest of the nation ahead of personal / party gain and hammer out a solution. No long-term childish posturing, no silly personal attacks – when it got right down to it, the two leaders went behind closed doors and hammered out a deal.

We, the people, deserve better. Rewinding to our Founding Fathers, disagreements ran deep – it is just a part of the political process. But how we conduct ourselves sets the bar for our self-image as a nation as well as influencing the American psyche. Representatives need to remember the literally ‘represent’ countless faces and families back home.

So to our friends in DC I’m asking you please stop dragging our nation and political process through the mud. Just like a spoiled child reflects poorly on the parents, you are doing the same of those who sent you to represent us. Knock it off and get to work. We need you to make things better, not worse. 

 

 

– 30 –