“‘Cause I’ve got friends in low places
Where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases
My blues away, and I’ll be OK.
And I’m not big on social graces
Think I’ll slip on down to the oasis
So I’ve got friends… in low places!”

Searching for inspiration can be a truly frustrating experience. For example, before writing the previous sentance I had stared at a blank screen for roughly ten minutes. One of my weekly goals is to blog at least three times a week, and tonight I am having a really difficult time coming up with something to write about. This is ….troublesome.
I could, I guess, write about politics. I could probably even find something quite funny to write about. If you are not a fan of the current occupant of the White House, and I freely admit I’m not, there are all kind of things that he’s done that could be described in a humorous manner. However, politics are not quite the right theme for tonight. All the jokes in the world will not change the fact that  man, and his cabal of advisors have gotten my country involved in a war with no real plan for victory, no exit strategy, and no legitimate justification.
Upon re-reading that paragraph I realize I need to make two things very clear before I say anything else. First and formost, despite the fact that I’ve never been in the military, I have nothing but respect for the men and women that do serve in any of the branches of the military. I admire the sacrifice and dedication they show daily. My disrespect is aimed at their Comander in Chief; you know, the one that was AWOL from his national guard unit for over a year during the Viet Nam War. Second, I also have to admit that I thought the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan was justified and necessary. I do not feel the same about the war in Iraq.
So, I’ll not be writing about national politics. I think I’ll also avoid writing about religion, entertainment….Ah, I know, I’ll write about “Advice I’ve Been Given”. That should be entertaining. Over the course of the last 39 years and 11 months I’ve been given quite a lot of advice; some bad, some VERY bad, and some quite good. I think tonight I’ll concentrate on some good advice I’ve been given recently.
Just over a year ago, while I was dealing with a friendship that was ending, or at least significantly changing, my Peer, told me “some people are not truly happy unless they are in Hell, a hell of their own making, and they do everything they can to take those around them to that same Hell”. It made a great deal of sense, and remembering helped me do what I had to do in order to deal with the situation. Helped me to pull back, and to realize that for whatever reasons that particular friend would always find ways to be miserable. I felt bad for the individual, and I still do, but I couldn’t continue to spend as much time around that person, couldn’t continue to get caught up in the ongoing drama of their life. It helped.
Then there was the excellent advice I received from JBK (Um, that would be John The Bear Killer) gave me at Samhain 2006. Late on Saturday afternoon, as I was trying to explain to some people where I needed the various thrones moved to so that they were in place for Court, JBK asked a question about the placement I was discussing. Now, the question he asked was a good one, but I had already considered the issue he was talking about and had planned for it. I was in the process of explaining this to him when he reached out and placed his hand on my forearm and said in a very calm, low voice, “Cormac, you need to work on keeping the irritation off your face.” I started to say something but before I could, he went on, “No, it’s allright. You’ve done well keeping the irritation out of your voice, you just need to work at keeping it off your face”. I was struck by a couple of things in his statement. First, he was right. I was irritated, and I thought I had hidden my irritation well. However what really struck me was the calm way John was trying to help me. He didn’t get angry at the flash of irritation he had seen. He didn’t yell, in fact I would be surprised if any of the people standing just a few feet away heard anything he said. He was genuinely trying to help me; trying to give me advice that would help me in dealing with people that might get angry at seeing such a flash of irritation. In the month and half since, I’ve tried to practice that advice. I will admit to varrying degrees of success, but the point is, I’m trying.
Finally, I want to mention I piece of advice recently got from the writings of AElflaed of Duckford (for those of you that have not had the pleasure to read her writings check out her website and her Blog ), and this specific piece of advice was simply this: “make the better choice”. In other words, when trying to decide how to react to something, how to proceed with something, etc, etc, simply stop for a minute, figure out the options available, and make the better choice. It is simple, perhaps to simple in some cases, but I’ve found it helpful. To my mind the most important, the most beneficial part of that piece of advice was the instruction to stop and think for a moment before reacting, or acting, or whatever. I know that far to often, I forget to stop and think. I just act, or react. However, since reading that recently, I’ve been trying to train my brain to stop and think. Of course, my brain can be a problematical beast, and despite knowing that I should make the better choice, I often don’t. But progress is sometimes slow. Still, slow progress is better than no progress. Old habits die hard, but with continuing effort they will die, and new habits will replace them.

Cormac

One Response

  1. Thank you… your words could not have come at a better time. It is about choices, isn’t it? And maybe, sometimes, it’s more important to retain one’s sanity than try to achieve something that might not be the goal one seeks.

    And yeah, listen to John. He’s far wiser than most anyone I’ve ever met, including lawmakers, politicians, ambassadors… seriously.

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