Monday, December 31, 2012

Things I learned about people and passion in 2012

It's December 31, I'm watching the last sunrise of the year, and your gifts are ready.

If you're a regular reader, you know I'm fascinated by relationships. All kinds; with spouses and children,  parents and siblings, friends and relatives, total strangers.

I read about and saw the same things on the news that you did. But this year, I also watched:

A mother speaking in gentle, full sentences to her pre-verbal child.
A teenage boy draping his arm around a girl who stood on the street weeping.
An elderly couple arguing with ease and humor in line at a deli.  
A man grocery shopping with his two-year-old daughter, helping her with the words to the songs she sang while he patiently fetched the items she tossed from the cart.
A man in his twenties bounding up some stairs to hold the door for a man in his late eighties- then  waiting until he was all the way through.

I observed cranky, unhappy people driving $80,000 cars, and young people working in awful jobs with a smile on their face. 

I saw some people ruin themselves, and others fight to save their own lives.  

I noticed one woman sitting alone one morning, quietly turning the pages of a book while she waited for a methadone clinic to open. 

And, after the horror in Connecticut, I saw young parents in an entirely new way, as they probably saw themselves.

The spirit is a miraculous, stubborn thing I learned in 2012.

Below are the other important things I learned or learned anew. Most of them are about relationships. Some are of the "duh" variety. However, they are all worth mentioning. If any make you consider the  gifts you offer, and withhold, in your own communication then you're welcome. Come back again next year and bring your friends.   

And, since this was the year I went back to writing full time, I've included some thoughts about work-in-progress which really is what life is all about.

And finally,  I've included some  thoughts about love because, well, you know,  love is all around. No need to waste it.


If you feel it, say it. There is no better expenditure of time -even when there isn't time and even if it's awkward - than to tell someone, out of the blue and with as few fluffy, confusing  words as possible, some reason why you cherish them.  It's harder than it sounds which is why we don't do it more often.

The most beautiful parts to a true love relationship are these:  the magical infatuation stage when one can describe their attraction to another for as long as their listener will tolerate it.  And later, when it is like walking and breathing to have them  in your thoughts a little bit, all the time.

We love the way we know how, and usually the way we ourselves would like to be loved. But some need words and some need actions and it's a big part of love to know how you differ.  

Every nice thing you do for someone you love, every "I Love You" you offer,  loses meaning with every "I'm Sorry" you can't bring yourself to say.  

There are wealthy people who  never want for food, warmth or shelter but allow themselves to starve emotionally in loveless, lonely relationships. Even if it's practical and tidier, do they wonder what dies in the process? I do.

Pampering someone is not the same thing as loving them and both the pamperer and pampered know it.

Difficult people
You just can't reason with someone who wants more than anything to be right (or show you that you're wrong).  You probably don't lack the skills, it's just that a righteous person feels unfaithful to his or her point of view when he or she listens to yours.

Even lazy, pampered, entitled  people have moments when they know they haven't earned what they have and wish they could fix that.

Be gentle with obnoxious people. The ones who won't give up the floor. The ones who talk loudly about Important Things  on their cell phones in public. The ones who try too hard to be funny. They probably don't want to be that way and they have to live with themselves all the time.

Be gentle with unhappy people, even if you must flee their company at the first opportunity.  That surly butcher who doesn't make eye contact or say thank you may be coping with a loss or disappointment that would overwhelm you. Assume there's a reason, and be kind. 

Do not be gentle with bullies, young or old. They know they make people uncomfortable and they resort to intimidation because they can't earn respect. They deserve neither your respect nor your fear.

Rare is the person who is truly, honestly unaffected by what people think of them. Everyone has someone they'd like to impress. And  I've seen uppity, successful people  hold serious grudges, for a long time, when someone of greater stature refuses to admire them.

What others think of you when you misstep is fleeting and variable and stays with you far longer than it stays with them.  You however, are your own constant company, critic, and champion. Be as good to yourself as you would be to your child. You can nurture yourself with understanding, or shred  yourself with doubt, rebuke and criticism.  Don't turn on yourself like that.

I don't believe anyone is without passion. Everyone has something they would do, all day long, would miss meals while doing,  if they had the money they needed already.

People shouldn't confuse passion with career selection, but they do. The difference is that one requires spirit and connects us to life, while the other requires training and validates our planning and organizational skills.

Explore your passion if you've been lucky enough to discover it but don't drive it into the ground.  The  less  income or outcome you demand, and the more joy you derive from a passion  the more you will be brought things by your  passion which you weren't looking for, but needed just the same. 

Work in progress
Don't sulk over what you might have accomplished if you started sooner. There are things - important things - you can only do well or better if you're older.  

We obsess over the completion of things. Finishing. Ending. Being done.  That kind of preoccupation is for students in college, or new  interns, or those who  wish to publish before they perish. It's true in building a career, it's true in being married, it's true in writing:  When it comes to the heart and mind, work in progress is as exhilarating - but not as sad - as finished work.

If it is time to end something,  start something else first.  Don't close a door behind you only to discover that on the other side is where the floor ended too.

Even if you dream about how, when, where and what things in your life should come next, they can be the hardest to start. Don't wait. You give up the romance of dreaming when you give in to the fear of failure and vice versa. If you don't surge ahead and risk the downside, you'll just be vaguely frustrated forever and you won't have any new stories to tell at dinner parties.

And finally, if it's happening right now, there's  probably a reason for it, you will probably  learn something you didn't know, it will probably be something you need, and eventually, you will share it for the right reasons.

With wishes for peace and all the rewards that you dream of in 2013, I love you, I appreciate your visiting, and will see you next Monday.



  1. Wow. That post gave me chills a couple of times. May you and yours have a very happy and healthy 2013!

  2. Thank you, and thank you for visiting. I hope your new year is wonderful,and full of writing. I'm looking forward to checking in!

  3. Great post. I too love to people watch and analyze what I see. It also helps me do much-needed self-reflection and remember how I appear to others. It was for this reason that I stopped and picked up a neighbors over-turned trash can along with all trash on my way to an appt. I have to be honest, it was nasty and I was complaining to myself. But we all need to take a look at ourselves now and again and remember to be kind.

  4. You are a good soul, Niki. And maybe now, somebody will have that moment where they don't really want to go to the trouble (or get their hands dirty) but does anyway.