You know the old saying:
“Don’t let the _____ get you down!” (insert your euphemism of choice based on your level of vexation.)
Whatever you call them, I’ve been surrounded lately by (euphemism of your choice.) And I’ve been letting them get me down.
I’d love to say you can’t really blame me. After all, either by nature or nurture, design or default, these (euphemisms of your choice) say and do things purposely and strategically designed to flatten my psyche, injure my ego, and sap my spirit.
Some are misguided, some are confused. Many have been snowed under by an avalanche of anger triggered by a fat, orange Sasquatch. Still, whatever their motivation, they chew on my confidence like a rodent gnawing on a power line.
Yet, honestly, it’s not their fault.
How can that be, you ask with an abundance of (much appreciated) concern for my well-being (or well-earned uncertainty about the point of this entry into Tom’s Journal of Middle-Age Miasma.)
Well, upon some serious therapeutic self-examination, I realize that, as is usually the case, I am to blame.
The key word in the saying, “Don’t let the ____ get you down,” is, “Let.”
Are the (euphemisms of my choice) really doing all those things that lead to me feeling badly about myself? Absolutely! Although I am in my middle 50s, my approaching and imminent dementia isn’t so bad that I am imagining things yet – voices in my head be damned!
However, “letting” something happen is often our own choice.
I have long been a strong and vocal proponent of “personal accountability.”
For example, as a thinking – and, hopefully, thoughtful – human being, I am well aware of the evils we have, and continue to, commit against each other.
I am ashamed of and regret the resulting waves of repression, oppression, poverty, resentment, division, and societal decay that have rolled onto our historical beach. I try to understand and, whenever possible, speak out against the many things wrong with our world and help fix them in my own miniscule ways.
(Without getting too much into the weeds, these tiny actions of candor and conviction on my part are exactly what some of those (euphemisms of my choice) have criticized me for.)
Yet I also stand firmly on the conviction that, all things being equal, one must also be brave enough to take responsibility for the things one can control. Blaming others for problems of your own making only exacerbates the problem.
I cannot single-handedly control or change the world (although I will keep trying.)
But I can most certainly can control and change my world – which is to say, Me.
This nugget of wisdom came back to me recently from my two of my most trusted resources: my wife, and a children’s cartoon.
Sure, this behavior from others is often hurtful, and my frustration is real and significant. Yet, ironically, I give it weight, I assign its value, I make it real by how I respond.
Fight against it? Sure.
But let it darken my mental and emotional doorstep? No more.
Instead, I will re-commit myself (because I am often a slow learner with a spotty memory) to do what my wife and Elsa, from the Disney movie “Frozen,” recently reminded.
I will just “Let it go.”
Easier said than done? Yep.
Worth the effort? Most truly good things are.
All those (euphemisms of my choice) can keep right on stirring pots overflowing with a bitter soup of their own recipe. That is their right. But don’t expect me to taste it.
Not even a sip.