My friend Lyne’t posted in the night that she intended to try to forego complaining — like me. I saw her post on waking, groggy from my first day with only-one-cup-of-coffee. Oh no, I muttered, stumbling around my upstairs sanctuary looking for phone, heart monitor, and slippers. Please don’t do this to me, my friend! Don’t hold me to this commitment!
Within a few minutes, the micro-waved mug of yesterday’s pour-over hit my veins and my attitude brightened. I padded around the house, squaring my shoulders, shaking my curls, hearing a little girl’s voice in my head saying Na na na boo boo! I am a role-model! I don’t think I’ve ever been a role model for anyone before now and I intend to make the most of it.
It’s been a long strange trip from there to here. Many miles still loom in front of me. I still complain, people; don’t think I made it a month much less a year. But I find myself wording articulations of discontent much more carefully. I study the faces of people to whom I am speaking. I feel their emotions more keenly and reach for a way to bring us to common ground, to sturdy ground, to an island on which we two can stand together and figure out how to meet each other’s needs.
I’ve learned that some things demand complaint: Bigotry, the mistreatment of others, public policy espousing inequality. Other things require tolerance: the slow driver, the little old lady ahead of me in the grocery store, the person struggling to articulate a thought which I already understand but which they need to let them tell me anyway. I’ve become aware of my body language, especially the dreaded combination of silent eye-roll and thunderous heavy sigh.
I told someone at the start of this adventure that I wanted to become my best self. I still have a way to go, but the trek has become less strenuous. My calf muscles strengthen with each step forward. And now that Lyne’t Smith walks beside me, I have someone on whom to lean from time to time, when the road exhausts me and the darkness threatens to engulf me.
It’s the twenty-third day of the thirty-eighth month of My Year [Striving to Relate To People] Without Complaining. Life continues.