Monday, January 25, 2010

the mice behind the wall

Running around my mind, like mice behind the wall, is a vague notion of writing some book or tract entitled "Advice to All My Children." When you come to my age and station, advice is about all you have to give and, simultaneously, there is the recognition that advice is what people give themselves, not something they can reasonably expect anyone else to follow. But at my age and station, everyone except the guy in the mirror looks like a kid and kids deserve a hand, even if they choose to reject it.

Whatever the caveats, the mice run around behind the wall, sending out annoying little suggestions. The latest scritch and scratch concerned responsibility and the role it plays in happiness.

Responsibility, that weighted and freighted piece of terminology that seems to issue from the thin lips of a righteous Calvinist minister, is just a sine qua non of happiness. Nothing special, just a sine qua non.

Responsibility requires care and patience. It is not something that arrives full-blown on Tuesday morning. As annoying as that care and patience may be, and as much as anyone might fidget and squirm to avoid it ... still, consider the alternative.

Irresponsible people are constantly looking over their shoulders, constantly trying to patch up and beautify their irresponsibilities. They are full of excuses and reasons and artful meanings -- full of praise and blame for others -- and then wonder why they are not happy. It's a paltry sort of existence, one to which any of us might be prone. But just because we are prone to one trait or another does not mean we have to accede to it.

Little and large, the responsible (wo)man exercises care and patience.

A responsible (wo)man knows how to wash a shirt or sew on a button. Or, alternatively, knows s/he does not know how to do these things. The irresponsible (wo)man is convinced that a washing machine or a tailor is the way of the world.

The responsible (wo)man acts and corrects as necessary. The irresponsible (wo)man believes ... and will work his or her ass off shoring up those beliefs.

Care and patience provide nourishment you can take to the bank.

Beliefs just underscore the fact that you are always broke.

1 comment:

  1. Best advice I ever got was from my mother regarding parenting. She said to just accept that everything you're going to do is wrong, and get on with it. I imagine I could apply it to most anything.