In the South, the seasons rarely follow the calendar, and I can remember both Thanksgivings and Christmases that were uncomfortably hot. So for those of us who love the season of fall, we have to be ever vigilant because it can come and go in a matter of days.
But it is here now in Tennessee. The leaves are turning. The temperatures are such that wearing boots and cardigans makes sense. I can take a walk without being covered with sweat upon my return.
Now, in Nashville, the temperatures might easily be in the 80’s next week. So while we have autumn here in our midst, take time to appreciate the season:
- Go for a walk, maybe in a park and let the leaves crunch under your feet.
- Rake some leaves and then let the kids (or yourself) jump in them.
- Go ahead and enjoy a pumpkin-spice latte.
- Make some soup.
- Get the newest book by your favorite mystery writer and read away an afternoon.
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. — Mark Twain
It is better to keep your fingers off the keyboard and let people think you are a fool than to type a comment and remove all doubt.– The Jolly Librarian
I belong to a community Facebook page. I wanted to find out where was the best place to buy homegrown vegetables or find a good handyman. Instead most days, I am inundated with people complaining about service at a restaurant or turning fairly benign discussions into political rants.
One day, when a discussion became especially egregious, I couldn’t resist and made a comment. I learned a hard lesson. On this particular page, once you comment, you can’t go back. All day, I kept getting pings that someone else had made a comment on the discussion. Most people were not replying to me. A few people did reply, and they were not there to have a serious discussion (Yeah, I know. What was I thinking?), but to make fun of me, be funny themselves, or make a totally different point and had mistakenly posted as a reply. It was a tiring day.
But I learned my lesson. Now, unless I think the person truly wants my input, I bite my virtual lip and keep my fingers off the keyboard. When folks share an article, I look at the source. If it’s heavily biased, then I know they don’t want a discussion, so I keep my fingers off the keyboard.
A wise person once said, “You don’t have to attend every argument to which you’re invited.” That saying should be made into a pop-up for every time we log into Facebook or Twitter.
By the way, I’m still a member of the neighborhood group because I still need that handyman.
Last week, I hired someone to clean my house. I’d been thinking about it for years because I simply hate to clean. (It’s okay if you judge me. I judged myself.) In fact, the only time I clean is when I look around my house and realize that if I suddenly died, people would talk more about my dirty house than mourn my passing.
Friday afternoon, I came home to a clean house. A very clean house. After appreciating its loveliness for a while, I realized something: Not only do I not like cleaning, I apparently am not very good at it. Even when I gave my house a good cleaning, somehow there are still streaky mirrors, cobwebs in corners, and dust in places that I swore I had dusted.
I don’t like cleaning. I’m not good at cleaning. And, for the time being, I can provide a job to someone who does it well. So I’m going to stop worrying about it.
There is something liberating about admitting you don’t do something well. Because once you do, you can make another plan: improve your skills, stop caring about it, or give the job to someone else. In fact, often during my career, I’ve had more problems with people who simply won’t accept that they can’t do something, continue doing it, and forcing other people to clean up the mess.
I think we all should be more open about our weaknesses. Because, in most cases, that’s all they are: weaknesses, not sins.
My friend Maria and I met for coffee yesterday. A little sheepishly, she mentioned that she might be getting a new dog. Maria has a soft heart when it comes to dogs that are not treated well, and she has a series of neighbors who have not treated their dogs terribly well. Down to one dog after her old “men” Porter and Nio died, she declared herself content. But the neighbors added more dogs, one a little terrier that had come from a hoarding situation and was not socialized at all. The neighbor couple then broke up, and no one was terribly excited about keeping the un-socialized, un-housebroken, hyper terrier.
So I wasn’t terribly surprised when Maria sent a text last night of the dog in her kitchen. Right now, she’s fostering to see if she can get her in adoptable shape.
But my story is not about Maria. It’s about luck. For every Pixie (the dog’s name), there are thousands of dogs who will live miserable lives tied to posts out in the country or get run over or attacked by coyotes. Others will be euthanized in shelters. Pixie is lucky.
I read a book recently that talked about a college professor who started life in Victorian England as a factory boy. One of his supervisors noticed his intelligence, took an interest in him, and his life changed. It’s a wonderful story, but I couldn’t help think about the other boys and girls in that factory who were not noticed and went on to totally different lives.
Hard work is surely important. So are persistence and grit. But I think we’re a little naive, maybe even hard-hearted, if we don’t admit that luck has something to do with success as well.