I’m a bit behind in my blog because I didn’t want to write when I was bad tempered. When Sam was little and in a bad mood, we would talk about being attacked by ‘the grumps’ – prickly beings who would jump onto your back, and weigh you down until you could shake them off. Well this week, the grumps have been on my back for most of this week, and I have been unsuccessful so far in shaking them off. If I wait for them to get bored and go away – or to overpower them by my good temper or willpower, I may not write anything this week. Apologies in advance if the tone is a little down beat. Yes, the holiday glow seems to have passed.
Last week, full of post holiday cheer, I wrote about the joys and insights that time away can bring. I wrote in quite glowing terms about how, in addition to the wonderful places we visited, the time away was wonderful for a range of other reasons which you can read about here
But I came back down to earth with a thud. I can almost pinpoint the moment when the grumps struck:
- It was after my school reunion on Saturday – I can’t believe it is 25 years since I finished at school. Given my hesitation before I turned up, the day was actually quite lovely and I really enjoyed catching up with many old friends. That evening, spent cuddled on the couch with my son watching a movie, was also very enjoyable. No grumps then.
- The grumps were definitely there by mid Sunday morning, when our car door made very minor contact with the adjacent car – so minor I could not see any sign at all until the owner returned to the car to point it out (and yes, if you looked from a certain angle, you could see a very minor ripple in the duco that was not apparent from other angles. Lesson learned – be extra, extra careful if you park next to a brand new Mercedes Benz). I won’t name the person responsible, as it is not fair to do that to a child (I’ll leave it to you to guess who – but it was an accident). However, this incidence did not enhance our Fathers’ Day.
- And they were digging their nasty little claws into my back and head, and whatever part of me controls my temper, throughout the horror match played by my football team, Richmond against Port Adelaide. Richmond squandered all the goodwill they had generated through getting into the finals by seemingly forgetting that they still needed to play against their opposition in said finals. I never want to watch such an abysmal game of AFL again (but as I follow Richmond, I suspect I will). I was not happy, and the grumps cackled in nasty delight – nothing they enjoy more than a frustrated bandwagon supporter (yes, I’m back off the wagon again).
No, it seems these grumps made their move trigger earlier on Sunday morning, prior to the car incident. My husband innocently turned on the car radio to a political commentary program, as he is apt to do. I felt a shudder down my back as a replay of Tony Abbott’s self congratulatory speech about his government’s year in office was played, followed by Bill Shorten’s whiny retaliatory comments. I did not want to hear the point scoring and cutting down. I found it repulsive, and unedifying. I demanded it be turned off. My husband, visibly annoyed, did so. And I felt relieved – yet guilty.
I clearly have a number of issue to work through regarding information awareness, particularly news. These are things I know:
- The break from news and information overload really was wonderful and very refreshing.
- I thought I would could measure and select what I chose to take in – however I do not live in a bubble. I live with others who have a right to listen to what they find edifying – and the political analysis on Insiders is very high quality. It is perfectly reasonable to want to listen to it.
- There are particular people who I find very hard to listen to or read. Where possible, I can choose alternatives. When it is not, though, I need a way to deal with it, without letting it get to me. Absorb the information but not the emotion. I don’t know how to do this, but I need to work out how.
- I have a responsibility to keep informed about key events, decisions and their effects, as I am part of this world. I need to work out how to use this information. Getting angry is a waste of energy – it is better placed in other ways.
- Grumps are a pain – the world would be better if they did not exist, but it appears they do, and they have a fondness at times for our family – lucky us.
One thing has helped. I read To Kill a Mockingbird this week, as it formed part of the preparation for a writing course I am doing this weekend. This was the first time I had reread this novel since secondary school, and what an amazing book it is. In reading it, I was reminded time and again that many people are placed in situations where they are uncomfortable, unfairly treated, unable to defend themselves, or have the choice of whether or not they will become involved in other people’s problems. It is within these situations that people’s true characters are revealed. And these situations are fair more challenging than having to listen to political analysis, for heavens sakes.
So many quotes were applicable, but I will try to remember the following when I the news makes me grumpy:
- “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” – I must get over my preconceptions and look at what might have lead people involved to their particular action or stated position.
- “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.” – am I really taking in all the facts?
- “There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible.” – yes, at times I’d like to stick my head in the sand, and certainly protect my children from the terrible things happening in the world, but that isn’t possible. And it is our responsibility to know what is going on, what role we might be playing in it, or could play to make a positive difference. This requires knowledge and understanding – and information.
- “No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change” – yes, yes, yes.
- “…Folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ’em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.” – true. It’s a time to understand and make sense of, rather than launching into an argument.
- Things are always better in the morning.” – most important of all – and why I will finish this post now. Grumps tend to lose their grip when I am well rested, I find.Wishing you a wonderful and grump free weekend, too!