The Guilty Party

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sometimes the Best Advice Comes From the Least Likely Source: Our Own Darned Self

Carpe Your Own Diem, Buddy!

Several days ago a young woman at work was saying that she would just as soon the holiday season be over and done with. Not her favorite time of year. She didn't elaborate on what it is about November/December that she doesn't like, but my guess is at least some of her reasons are very much along the lines of It's Too Long; It's Too Commercialized; and All the Stores (including, unfortunately, the excellent establishment that employs us both) Play Godawful Music. If so, then let's face it, she's right on all counts.

I know very well what it is to face with dread that chunk of the year that for some reason we call The Holiday Season. As someone who has paid the mortgage and put food on the table by working in the retail industry the phrase "holiday season" is one hell of a misnomer. For decades, for me it meant six or seven day work weeks, long hours on those days, early openings, late closings, customers screaming at me because a small child's Christmas will be ruined because a product is out of stock, and a predictable percentage of employee absence, tardiness and theft. Like my young coworker I couldn't wait for it to be over either.

So why, when confronted with "I can't wait for the holidays to be over." from a lovely, intelligent young woman, didn't I just nod my head in empathetic harmony? Why did I feel the need to bring her round to a more positive frame of mind? Why did I trot out my own personal version of Carpe Diem/Smell the Roses/All We've Got is Today So Look for the Blasted Silver Lining on her?

I'm not really sure, but even if my attempt to get her to see that each of us is responsible for how we approach not just each season, but each day, hour and moment, didn't make any sort of impression on her (I hope she didn't just see it as Old Man Babbling On, but there is that distinct possibility) I am quite selfishly glad I did it. Why? Because I needed the reminder myself. Heck, I need it a lot. I've known for a long time the value of time and energy and how what we do with each is perhaps the biggest factor in creating the life well-lived. I know the importance of not squandering these finite assets in wasteful pursuits. And I know one of the most wasteful pursuits is that of Waiting For This to Be Over So The Good Stuff Can Start. Well, the Good Stuff shows up when it darned well pleases, following nobody's calendar and calling ahead to announce its arrival time just about never at all. So we need to be ready for it. Maybe even create a bit of it for somebody else so it knows it will have company. That's a good thing that usually doesn't require Waiting.

I know all these things but am I good at incorporating them into my own life? Not so much. I grumble; I look forward to end-of-shift; I wish for cool weather when it's hot and warm weather when it's cold and blustery; I see the future as the place where the good stuff happens and the present as a swamp I've got to slog my way through. Too often I can't wait for tomorrow because today is whupping my butt or boring or just not what I wanted it to be.

So I would like to thank her for expressing her self-admitted Scroogified attitude and in doing so giving me an opportunity to lecture myself by bouncing it off of her. We all needs the ol' whack-upside-the-head sometimes, and every once in a while the best hand to administer the whack is at the end of our own arm.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise


Lexi said...

Thanks for that, Alan.

When I have an uninspiring list of jobs to slog through, I sometimes think, let's get it over with in case something nice happens, so I'll be ready for it. This may not quite be positive thinking, but it's a start.

You're better at this than I am.

Alan Hutcheson aka Plumboz said...

Oh my, but I'm not. Anyone who has produced three novels in as many years is a much better steward of her time and energy than I could ever claim.

I have tried all sorts of mantras to help with this but the only thing that helps is the hardest and the simplest solution: Keep busy. Do something. I'm good at that when I have to be (at work, when my beloved has given me a task) but left to my own devices I dither to an extreme degree and then end up looking forward to the next opportunity I have to make up for squandering the time just past.

It's a nasty cycle and I really should get therapy.

The only outside thing that kickstarts me is when I wake to find that I have sold some books. That provides energy and focus for most of the day. But one cannot depend on such things on a regular basis. Unfortunately.

Lexi said...

Alan, I do much the same. Most of us look better from the outside.

Anyway, you're allowed to waste a bit of time now and then. Minty has a boyfriend who is always doing something; studying, climbing, learning Japanese etc.. He never mooches. This is admirable but unnerving.

A Bit About Me

My photo
I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.