eThoughts : December 1, 2011: Holiday Thoughts, Part I

Resentment may not be a wonderful holiday thought, but resentment is definitely a holiday sentiment. Interesting. And the motivation for resentment? Perhaps it’s because we already feel so pushed around that anything constituting another obligation is bound to be met with resentment. If we were not so overwhelmed, we might feel a bit better about the holidays, though the principle of the holidays is to count our blessings. In that light, maybe resentment is a good holiday gauge on the dashboard of ourselves. Like a temperature gauge that is signaling overheating, perhaps the redlined resentment gauge is a call to action to keep our beings healthy. Imagine not having the gauge. So, one holiday thought is to thank resentment for the feedback, rather than grouse about it.

Getting older is an inevitable part of the holiday season. Here comes the holiday season again when we feel like we just made it through the last one. The trouble, or blessing, of old age is that one has to create the wonder of the age, as opposed to having the wonder created for us. When we’re younger, most everything is amazing. Finding newness in the familiar, much less newness altogether, can be a daunting task. Being older actually helps in such an enterprise. So another holiday thought is to be thankful for the gift of aging.

So, in the spirit of being thankful for stuff we don’t initially like, random thoughts follow:

What do dogs know? They know that humans are not paying all that much attention. That’s good feedback as all we have to do is pay attention. Dogs—most any pet actually—are like a canary in the mineshaft: an early-warning system for inappropriate habituation and a signal for a bit more sensitivity to what is going on around us. Let’s give thanks for our pets—and show it by paying a bit more attention to their beings and a bit less for what they can do for us.

Addictions—the better word is dependency—are everywhere. Declaring a war on dependency cannot be unilateral as we are dependent on so much, including each other. Besides, it’s not the addiction to a drug or alcohol or sex, etc. that is the issue, we’re dependent on the way we feel when we’re on whatever we’re on. The problem is when the dependency doesn’t work for us. While we may need some operational definitions about what is fine and what isn’t, the point is what dependency has to say to us. Let’s give our dependency a nod of gratitude this holiday season. It’s another good gauge on our dashboard.

Influence is an interesting currency as is the motivation for the exchange of influence. I wonder about those who push their agenda because they think they’re right. It seems to me that education and learning are about pushing an agenda to see if we’re right. That means a few more questions rather than bumper-sticker statements. And it means our minds need to focus more on the task and less on leverage. I remain astounded by how many learned folks rely on leverage rather than tracking the task at hand. It’s as though the most important tracking is to get one’s way, as opposed to understanding the tracking of the task itself. For instance, if we’re concerned about children starving, then let’s stay on task and get it handled rather than bang on drums to draw attention to our concern, our position, and our power. Food feeds folks, not concern, position, and power. So, let’s give a nod of thanks for how much we veer off task by embracing influence. Embracing influence over the task at hand can be like the bumps on roadways that warn us we’re off track. More good gauges on our console.

The “negatives” in our lives are not to be eschewed. They’re important counterparts to the positives. This holiday season, when we’re busy trying to be cheerful, maybe we might be a bit more genuine by remembering how lousy our lives can be. Those gauges with needles headed towards “lousy” tell us a lot if we pay attention. Let’s be thankful for the early alert. Even more, let’s get busy with the tasks at hand, including the task of having no tasks. I can’t think of anything more important to be thankful for this holiday season.

Best to all of us and to our stewardship.

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