I realized today that I have an entire list of people to whom I can say very little of substance without violating the Four Way Test of Rotary.
The irony of it hit me square on the jaw and sent me reeling!
Is it true?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial for all concerned?
I can usually pass numbers one and two, especially if I squint. But as I’ve noted here on a prior occasion, almost nothing that constitutes “complaint” builds goodwill and better friendships. Sniveling complaint might be beneficial in the short run, but I can only rationalize complaint by a tortured re-casting of it as “constructive criticism”. Lame, even for me.
Chagrin oozes from my pores. I reached this state earlier today when I found myself having a long conversation in my head with someone whose conduct over a significant period of time fell outside the realm of what I wanted that person to do. I cranked the volume to unreasonable decibels, if only within the confines of my brain. Hours went by as I sat on my porch, rocking, drinking tea, and listing the person’s shortcomings.
That is to say: Complaining, though only to myself.
Every little thing smacked of truth. The person went into the situation fully aware of its parameters, so I think my disappointment meets the test of fairness. But listen: Free choice, free expression, freedom to live one’s life any way one pleases even if others get hurt: these principles have power. People do what they choose. If they trample me in the process, giving voice to my outrage benefits no one.
Leave it be. Let it go. Smile and remain silent. Add that person’s name to the host of people with whom all future conversations will be light, airy, and superficial. It’s all good.
I met a sweet young couple at tLoft today who approached me to remark on my exotic look. I took it as a compliment. I carried the glow of their smiles into evening. The warm feeling offsets a fair measure of chagrin. I feel it in my heart.
It’s the twentieth day of the forty-first month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.