Sunday, January 25, 2015

Long-winded people I’ve ever met

I’ve been accused of being too wordy in my written compositions, such as letters and e-mail correspondence, and I'll accept this as valid criticism.  

It must stem from my desire to be complete and not misunderstood which would be an occupational hazard in my profession.

If my wordiness has its origin in the work I do, it’s because I use written communication to advocate a client’s point of view.  Sometimes it may be a controversy or dispute so I must make sure the message I communicate on their behalf is loaded with convincing lines of reasoning and fully supported by authority and evidence.  It sometimes takes lots of words to do this successfully.

In any event, you can call me “Mr. Wordy” knowing you’re not the first to do so and you won’t hurt my feelings.

And I suppose the same could be true with my spoken words but that depends on what the conversation is and to whom I’m discussing something with.  While I take pride in being a good listener, it’s only natural that I’d like my turn of “having the mic” in an extended and healthy conversation.

Sometimes getting an equal share of talking time is no problem like when the person I’m talking to and I both yield to each other at natural breaking points so that our conversation sounds like a symphony performing a classical music masterpiece.  Other times, however, with a different person, our conversation music isn’t so smooth particularly when one of us “hogs the mic” in what ends up being a one-sided conversation.

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?” I may ask myself when getting the short end of equal time in a one-sided conversation being dominated by the other person and not me.

These long-winded and oftentimes full-of-hot-air “mic hogs” know who they are and you can usually spot them from a distance.  They are also of the same stock of those who are “selfie-prone” with their smartphone cameras and take great delight in uploading another selfie of themselves on Facebook to display right next to the hundreds of other selfies previously uploaded for their Facebook friends.

These folks speak their own language called “Me, me, and me!”

Another characteristic of these people is a common preface they frequently utter after blowing their hot air for what seems like eternity.  They typically do this when realizing what they’ve done and wanting to save face with their exhausted listener.  

And what is their prefatory statement? 

Those who say “To make a long story short . . .” are some of the most long-winded people I’ve ever met.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Like a really empty bottle of ketchup

Several years ago I had a conversation with the CEO of an association representing the food processing industry and the subject of waste came up.  He shared how despite our best efforts to use all of some food products, some gets unused and thrown away.  He gave an example of a bottle of ketchup to make his point. 

I could relate to what he was sharing and actually agreed with him while recalling many instances in my ketchup-using past where the bottle was almost empty but not quite.  There was still some ketchup lining the bottom and sides of the bottle and despite my best efforts to get that last drop of ketchup – turning the bottle upside down, squeezing it for dear life, pounding it on the kitchen table and so forth – I eventually abandoned my efforts in frustration, considered the bottle empty and then tossed it in the kitchen trash container.

I made a “business decision” that I had used enough and for all practical purposes the bottle was empty and I had used it all to the very last drop.  But in reality, there was more ketchup in the bottle and by tossing the bottle in the trash container; I lost my opportunity to “use it all”.

In a middle-aged man reflective moment, I started to think about that bottle of ketchup in relation to my daily efforts to be the best I can to all those who are part of my life – my family, friends and clients.

Certainly I begin each day with the best of intentions to pour my heart, mind and soul into everything I do.  Freshly awakened after a good night’s sleep, I’m like a newly-opened bottle of ketchup; my efforts to do well and be good flow so easily.  But as the day goes on, like that almost-empty bottle of ketchup, my reservoir of abilities, energy and good intentions start to empty and it takes a little more squeezing, pounding and shaking to get another drop of good out of me.

And just like that almost-empty bottle of ketchup, at some point, even though I have more left, I make a “business decision” that enough is enough and that I’ve given all that I can for the day.  At that moment, I’m like both the person trying to get the last drop of ketchup out of an almost-empty bottle and the almost-empty ketchup bottle – frustrated and depleted.    

At the end of a challenging day when I finally get an opportunity to call it quits until tomorrow, and lay my head on the comfortable pillow in my bed, ready for hours of restful sleep and rejuvenation, I hope my final thought before checking out when Mr. Sandman arrives, is that I used all my God-given talents this day with no wasted effort just like a really empty bottle of ketchup.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, January 11, 2015

One day you and I will both go

Photo taken during
2007 trip to Italy.
So here I am this early Sunday morning looking out my family room window seeing dense winter fog and a sky above so gloomy and gray.  I remind myself how I’m within striking distance of a new decade of life. 

Those who know me know of my analytical and number-calculating mindset so to honor my legend I do some quick math and discover this Sunday morning I’m 59 years and 89 cents.  This realization of being on the older side of middle-aged manhood makes me ponder about the life I’ve lived thus far and more specifically the current decade of my life that will soon be ending.    

I think about my faith, the sacraments I’ve received and the prayers I’ve prayed for the special intentions of so many family, friends and clients. 

I think about family, friends and clients who have departed me from planet earth and how blessed I was to have them part of my life.  I’m grateful for those who are still here and contribute to my sense of who I am and who I want to be.

I think about the fitness I’ve gained and lost in my see-saw training journey; the weights lifted, miles run, kettlebell repetitions completed, and burpees done to exhaustion.

I think about the money I’ve made, spent, donated and invested wondering about how healthy is my relationship with the financial resources with which I’ve been blessed.

And finally, I think about the good health I’ve been blessed with thus far knowing that it could be taken away from me in a moment with no advance notice.

Coming out of a reflective gaze to my present whereabouts, I stare at my computer and read an internet news article about a recent research study finding that people having an optimistic approach in all walks of life are likely to have more healthy hearts.  This article notes that optimism doesn’t just lead to a better outlook on life, but possibly an improved one as well since this study reveals it can lead to a healthier heart.

Well a healthier heart is just one of many variables that will contribute to how much time I have remaining on planet earth.

I’m optimistic about the rest of my life and a new decade of it that hopefully I’ll experience.  There will be challenges along the way but I believe the blessings of good faith, family, fitness, fortune and health will far outweigh these challenges.  If I’m willing to do the hard work and I pray that I will and not be lethargic in my pursuits.

Going back into my reflective inner-self, I recall something I wrote late last year when in a doodling reflective mode about the rest of my life.  It reads as follows: 

"Follow your passions, surrender your fears, rid your angers and be not afraid to shed tears.  Learn to have compassion because it never goes out of fashion.  Live a long life and know, one day you and I will both go."

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum