Monday, September 1, 2008


September 1st, 2008
8:02 AM

Internal strength. That's what holds it all together. Keeps us from going haywire. Saying stupid things. Doing stupid things. It's what keeps us from knee-jerk, gut reactions. Allows us to reason. To see or hear a thing, digest it, then choose our reaction.

I know of people that have it. It's a short list. And I'm sure if I spent all day of every day with these people, I'd see that they too cave in sometimes. They break down. Pound their fists. Shed tears. Collapse on the bed seeking refuge in sleep. But what's different about these people is that they do it on their own time. They do what they can so they aren't dragging down those around them.

After all, the world break everyone. Hemingway knew it. I know it. Everyone can feel it if they're willing to pay attention. There's no getting around it. Eventually, we'll all be broken down. But what we need to be mindful of as we move around this place is how we carry ourselves. How we treat others. How we treat the world. We need to do our best to build strength in others by building strength in ourselves. But to be able to do this, we need to recognize that with each crack, every time we say or do the wrong thing, it is an opportunity to build strength. To be strong in those broken places, so that we can carry on. Do better next time.
What's also important to remember is that strength is not built with excuses. We must own up. We cannot let the notion of wrongdoings or mistakes as opportunities for growth give us excuses to do wrong or make mistakes again.

I bitch at people in traffic. People running red lights. Cutting other people off. People swerving in and out of traffic, talking on cell phones, posturing in their “gansta” lean. People tend to piss me off. And it's not only in traffic. It's in stores. On sidewalks. At festivals. Parks. Wherever people are they tend to piss me off. Maybe it's only the bad ones that stand out. Throwing their trash around, talking like thugs, having total disregard for the world around them because for some reason they believe their entitled. That the world owes them something. Anything. Everything.

“That's the way we roll!”

A man exclaimed this proudly to everyone within earshot as he and his family and friends cut in line at the airport. The line was already filled with hundreds of people. Most of them like me and S.B., about to miss a flight because of the airline being understaffed, inefficient, apathetic. But these folks came rolling in, laughing, bragging about how they were up late and had slept in. They made no bones about the fact that they were late to the airport because of choices they had made. And yet, they cut in line, went to the ticket counter, complained to the customer service agent and were allowed to cut out waiting in line altogether. Indeed, there they went. Walking away. A combination of strut and lazy swagger. Ahead of all of us who'd been there for two hours or more.

Because that's the way they roll.

My gut reaction was to bitch about it. Complain. Follow them and beat them with their own luggage. Let their actions taint mine and turn me into a person not much better.

But then I looked at S.B.

Already, we'd been through enough that morning. That week. Month. The year. And as trite as these “rollers” seemed, there was no use letting more bad stuff into our lives. We were just starting out. A few days married. Waiting to leave for our honeymoon. Already missing Little Man. Unsure of what waited for us once we left the ground.

So, I let it alone.

Sure, we missed our flight. Had to make phone calls. Push around plans. Leave a day later. But there was nothing that could be done but buck up and keep on keepin' on.

What will help me now. Moving around this place. Always threatened with breaking. Is that S.B. is there. If not in sight, usually in earshot. And my knee-jerk, gut reactions are not what she needs. They are not what we need. And today, when we are in traffic and someone cuts us off, I will not cuss or yell, or wish that I had a baseball bat to pound through their windshield. Instead, I will look over at S.B., take a deep breath, then look in the rear view mirror. At Little Man. So small and open and in need of a strong man to help show him the way.

And I will smile. Or ask him how he's doing. Maybe just say “hi, buddy”.

Because that's the way we roll.

~ K.J.

(copyright 2008 by K.J. Stevens)

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