It has been four months since I started this process. I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve encountered struggles which I did not anticipate, and which have both hindered and enhanced my success. Some of these struggles have been inter-personal; some have been health; some have been professional.
I’m posting this as a page and not a daily entry to memorialize my thoughts about where I stand and to invite you to join my journey.
I’m going to be frank.
I see changes ahead of me that could be extraordinarily difficult for me to handle. I won’t borrow trouble by identifying them; if you know me, you ‘ll know if they occur and if you don’t know me, if you’re just someone who is following my journey, there’s no reason to bore you with them. Suffice it to say, that going complaint-free has required considerable effort and could well challenge me even further.
But it has had its rewards. Chief among them has been connecting with the two-dozen people who subscribe to this blog and the 50 or so to whom I send links to every post. I hear from two or three or more of you each time I post an entry. I find it quite validating; and I am grateful both that people read, and that they comment.
Another benefit has been what I’ll sheepishly call a more mindful existence. I regress, I slip, and I have instant awareness of what has happened and move to make amends. I also contemplate my exchanges with random people in the world with a goal of being honorable and pleasant. I still tussle with folks, including my most intimate family and friends. But I see a difference in myself; and I hope those of you who know me do, as well.
As with any change, there are those who find what I’m doing somewhat unsettling. To some, it feels fake. To others, the changes are too little, too late. And a scant few refuse to believe that anything can or will be different in the way I regard the world. To those, I can only say, I’m trying. I am sorry if I brought my desire to live complaint-free too late to the table.
And yet, I keep moving forward. I’m one of those people who has always had her detractors, and her wildly enthusiastic fans. People either love me, or hate me. Some even love to hate me. A woman who used to give me rides to work, decades ago in my youth, stopped because she felt that I did not express gratitude enough. Or in the right way. I did not understand her then, and I am not sure I understand her now. But I remember her, remember her words when she called my mother’s home to tell me that I’d have to find another way to get to the city. And I think about her. I wonder where she is, or whether, if I found her now, I could make amends.
I also find myself thinking more and more about communication. How people misconstrue what another says, and the misunderstanding changes an entire course of action, maybe even the entire relationship. Neither realize that the breakdown has occurred until far into the machinations and permeatations of the interchanges between them. When is it too late? When one of them is so sure of what they heard, that no protestations, however genuine, can persuade them? Perhaps.
But I don’t think so. I believe that where there is life, there is always room for improvement. Nothing is beyond hope; no pain too great for comfort; no sin beyond forgiveness. Perhaps it is not love which conquers all but understanding; and where there is love as well, there can be healing.
I’m four months into my year without complaining and I feel even more compelled to continue. I still count my blessings, around the circle bracelet that my friend Jane gave me. I still wear my silver HOPE ring. Around my neck, awaiting the fullness of time, I have the wedding ring that doesn’t fit over the broken knuckle and will in time need to be re-sized. On the same chain is the Koran that Mona Chebaro gave me, years ago, when a doctor said I would die in six months. Dangling beside the Koran is the Blessed Virgin Mary medal that was put on me in the hospital, at birth, before I had been baptised, and the pendant watch my mother gave me for high school graduation. These are the talismans which guard me, and I wear them every day. I need but touch to be reminded of the love with which I have been blessed.
I invite you all to join me in my quest to go without complaining. Learn from my journey: Start by refraining from voicing criticism of those who are closest to you, and, perhaps more critically, stop complaining about yourself. Don’t call yourself names. That kind of speech means you are either really suffering or you want an excuse to behave badly. Or both. If you’re a son of a bitch, you don’t have to be nice to your spouse or your kids; you can cheat at cards. If you don’t expect much of yourself, you can’t disappoint yourself. Stop telling yourself you are worthless, and acknowledge your essential goodness. And then, acknowledge the essential goodness of those around you.
Joy will flow into your heart like an unchecked, gushing waterfall, and the ride down its contours will be endlessly thrilling.