Thursday, June 20, 2002

When Whining is Fun

It ought to be as easy to rejoice as it is to complain. Complaining and 'suffering' are frequently played like social sports; I have seen myself and others compare burdens, and measure stressors against our peers'. A neighbor with a terrible plumber, can barely finish his tale of woe, before we are at the starting line to share a tale of even greater injustice.

Most often I enjoy hearing and sharing anecdotes about bad traffic, rude waiters, unexpected delays, and the occasional 'awful flu,' but only if, in the end, I can laugh, even just a little. Incessant whining does not count. One of our worst vacations ever included a flooded hotel room, 100 degree temperatures without air conditioning, stomach flu, a hurricane and closed bars because of elections in the town. This trip has provided me with 15 years of 'Olympic quality, competitive tales of suffering.' And as miserable as the trip was, (never do Baja in August) I love that I have those memories, and pitiful stories in my arsenal. They are an enormous source of humor for me, and even joy.

I pause to consider; how can suffering be part of joy? I think it is because, when we live to tell our stories and share our burdens we are able to overcome the initial source of stress and telling the tale is a modern day rite of passage, a declaration of personal triumph and a reason to rejoice. When I complain, I am, eventually, aware that I am about to learn something about myself or the world, or that I have at least lived to tell another tale of survival.

This all serves to remind me to acknowledge those wonderful times when there is reason to rejoice without having to hassle with setbacks or frustration. Today the landscaper took the blame for a Home Depot errand I messed up. He needed 90 degree clean sweep elbows, in gray 3/4" PVC and I brought him 45 degree elbows. He offered that he should have been 'more specific,' and his kind remark led me to offer, "Let's agree to share the credit for the good ideas as well as the bad ones." Mission Pools is shining today as well. They are here 1 week earlier than projected and putting in the rebar.

So, while they have all amused and annoyed me at times, I must say that, the contractors and crew have been hard working, kind spoken and a reason to rejoice. I rejoice in our health, and in the nearly infinite choices we are blessed to enjoy. I rejoice in the diesel, dirt, noise, and decisions, the dust, boulders, suggestions, criticisms and trenches. All of this, the good and the bad, the dusty and the muddy, and all of us working together, will result in a beautiful yard, with grass, flowers and fruit, children swimming, shade and really good stories to share for years to come.

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