space

I’ve always had a difficult time dealing with that ho-hum period immediately after something dramatic happens.

Some call it a “cool down” phase. I call it a nuisance.

I hereby admit this is a flaw in my character. There. I admitted a shortcoming. Go ahead a take a second to take it in.

Why it’s a flaw is no mystery: people say things they don’t mean when they’re riled up. When emotions are high, the name of the game seems to be to say whatever comes to mind before thinking it through. The filter is off and it’s probably best to wait until it comes back.

But I don’t want to wait that long. When there’s a problem, I want it addressed immediately, for taking 30 minutes to a couple of hours or even days seems like a waste of time. You know those minutes or hours or days won’t be happy. You know they probably won’t be too productive. So why have them?

That’s my philosophy. Correction: that was my philosophy. Starting today, I’m going to be more patient. Starting today, I’m going to base my responses on the reflections I’ve made during my “cool down” period. Starting today, I’m going to try to be like you.

No, this change has not been triggered by something dramatic that happened to me. I’ve just had the chance to observe someone close to me do this gracefully – and it’s a thing of beauty.

I rarely get mad. I recently did when some neighbors decided it’d be thoughtful to race a car past my house at full speed, but that’s because I worry about my daughter getting hit. I will always get mad and take action when someone I love is put at risk. When that’s the case, the filter doesn’t just come off gradually and neatly – it flies off like a hot radiator cap. Most of the time, though, things just roll off me like a drop of mid-morning dew.  

I am more often disappointed than angry. Disappointment is nearly synonymous with sadness. So I get sad more than I get mad. And it sucks. That’s probably how my desire to address a problem immediately came to be.

But even more action-provoking than my own emotions are those of folks I love. It seems the more I love them, the more I want to stop them from feeling mad, disappointed, sad, frustrated, lonely or any other sensation that isn’t pleasant. It can be unsettling for me to wait for someone I love to talk about a problem than it is to actually help, even if I ultimately don’t help at all.

I am learning, though.

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