Friday, July 20, 2007

Choosing Battles

It seems life continually presents me with occasions in which I need to "choose my battles."

In any situation, there are at least two sides, and more likely there are many more than that. In the midst of trying to figure out what's what, people can get the idea that you've chosen "their" side, whatever that is. And they want you to fight, tooth and nail, for their position - in every single way - from the most minor decisions to the big picture.

I consider myself to be a fair-minded individual, willing to gather the facts and sort through the fiction, and arrive - hopefully - at a reasonable solution for any situation. In the process, it's not uncommon for feathers to be ruffled and hackles to be raised (whatever hackles are). In the midst of that, it seems no one can accept that you cannot fight every battle - that you have to choose which ones you're going to take on.

Who can fight every battle that crosses their path?

I choose my battles - not only for myself, but for others involved, too. If you make an issue of every single tiny detail it's easy for people to blow you off - you're a trouble maker and not worth their time. If you make careful decisions about what really matters and keep the big picture in mind, it's better for everyone. At least that's what I think.

I have to choose my battles.
1. I have limited time.
2. I have limited energy.
3. It's the only smart thing to do.

Over the years I've had multiple opportunities to choose my battles. They seem to crop up when you least expect them and they keep on giving. At the end of the day someone's always unhappy, and you're left to figure out how you might have handled things differently. Sometimes there just isn't a win-win situation, but you owe it to everyone to search for it nonetheless.

Little Things and New Eyes

One of the many things I've rediscovered as I've been arranging things in the house is this jar filled with "little things" from my childhood.

If you look closely you can see a little troll in there, some cracker jack prizes, some doll furniture and an ear from Mr. Potato Head. I think the jar is an old glass tums jar. Remember when things were made of glass, before we decided to see how many petroleum products we could use up and made our society a totally plastic one?

I don't recall putting all these assembled things together - my mom probably did it as she ran across bits and pieces in the cabinet where this was. In my bedroom at home she built cabinets all along one wall and when I moved away from home I left tons of stuff there - naturally. Unlike many mothers, though, my mom just left them alone. She would organize things occasionally but she never threw anything away. When she died we found numerous boxes labeled, "Pat's stuff," and they were filled with things like this. That's one of the benefits of living in one place for many years, I suppose. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful to have these little bits of childhood. I guess if you don't have the benefit of that, in some ways that's freeing, because you're not burdened by "stuff." But, I'm very fond of things.

When I was young I can remember going to Mary Ann's mom's house and she brought out a jar of "little things" that had been Mary Ann's. I played with them at the dining room table for an afternoon. I can't imagine why I was there without my mom, but I was. There were some very cool things in that jar - little tiny scissors as I recall.

My jar of "little things" might hold the same fascination for a kid today. I guess we are always interested in things that are new to us.

I am a person who needs a lot of "new" in my life. I like to meet new people, go new places, see new things. There's something exhilerating about newness.

Part of the trick is to find - or at least recognize - the unusual in our daily lives. Even if it's not new, we can look at it with fresh eyes and see something new in it.

Tonight Greg and I went to the Airport Steakhouse. It's, as you might guess, a restaurant at the airport. The back of the restaurant is all windows, looking out onto the airstrip. Hutchinson is a small airport, but is used a lot by small, private aircraft.

As you eat you can watch the planes land and take off. Tonight a couple landed and came in and ate and then took off again. There's also a restaurant in Beaumont where you can do the same thing, although it's not as convenient as it is in Hutchinson.

Anyway, as we were looking at the plane out the window, I realized this was one of those moments. Sitting in a comfortable restaurant, eating a delicious cobb salad, and looking out the window at planes landing and taking off is not "the norm" for most people. So, I took the opportunity to see that with new eyes. And thought I'd share with you. This was taken from our table. I didn't even stand up to take it.

The walk from their plane to the restaurant door was maybe two blocks long. I must admit, it seems like a fun excursion for an afternoon. But I'm not sure how many places you can go where you can land and walk to a restaurant.

You see lots of people getting out of private planes with brief cases and/or with golf clubs. We have the famous Prairie Dunes golf course, and it attracts many golfers. I don't know squat about golf, but I know Prairie Dunes is a big deal.

Seeing with new eyes is my challenge for the moment.