So I’m on an out-of-command-center excursion on an eat-work mission and am typing this in a
local diner. There’s a guy here (every diner has one and I hope I’m not him click-clacking on my keys) with his face buried in the paper, commenting vociferously about why Joe So-and-So is an idiot, which player in the draft “stinks” (forgetting, of course, that said player was just drafted into the #$%^& NFL,) and why the Maple Street paving job was done by MORONS! All news is a disaster and he’s the guy who knows why. (Lot’s of his comments start with, “Let me tell ya somethin…”)
He is the self-elected Curator of all Doom, including sports.
Yet, for the mountain of information at his fingertips and the endless citation of chapter-and-verse facts, quotes and stats there is nary a step in a positive direction or kind word. I realize I’m playing armchair psychoanalyst, but I think this figure fascinates me because while hyperbolic I think there is a lot of him in all of us. Me, anyway. I love to complain.
So while he unloads on why everything/everybody stinks he’s doing nothing to make it better (to put perhaps too fine a point on it, if I hear him say one more world class athlete or politician is an nincompoop I may fail in my restraint from punching him in the &*%&* face…Count to 10 Mark…)
While complaining is fun and knowing why stuff is good or bad makes us feel smart and so forth, the more I get to be around people like Silva, Irvine, Holmes, and my wife I am reminded that a life of merit is as Teddy Roosevelt said in High Triumph: “It is not the critic who counts…the credit goes to the [person] who is actually in the arena…”
That anecdote leads me to this question: Since we are all in the Arena (capital A,) since we all eventually have to build something, how can I do my best while I’m lucky enough to play the game and be on the job site of Life (capital J or L, not sure which…)
So thus begins my series that I’m calling (in)Site, at least until I come up with something better or that uses different keyboard icons that look cool.
And after all that preamble (you’re still reading this, I hope…thank you…I’ll give you a MyFixitUpLife T-Shirt if I see you at the diner) as I think back on the last year and think about the forthcoming anniversary of the Joplin tornado that created so much good from so much bad, I’m reminded of a sign I saw in a storefront there and how it summed up in 5 words one of the critical elements of how that community rises, how Boomtown came together, and how I can be a better man: WORK HARD AND BE NICE.
I’m not naïve—there’s a lot to b***h about. And it’s fun. But there’s work to be done. Joe So-and-So has real problems to solve; not just fake problems that exist so I can comment on them. Oak Street needs to be paved next. And the only thing the critic is doing is talking. Talk without insight is just static.
And so is this blog unless I endeavor to do something, so I will trade out one of my petty complaints (but I love them all so much, which one can I let go of?!) and point out something good today.
Work hard and be nice.