Glower Rhymes with Flower

My Christmas spirit seems to have gone right out the window. I was feeling pretty “up” yesterday morning, but my cheerful countenance has been replaced with a sour frown and the attitude to match. Maybe I will be able to replace this unpleasant mood with something more suitable to the season. Maybe not. I know what’s got me down, but it’s something I do not plan to share with anyone, whether in this blog or otherwise. Some things just do not warrant interpersonal explanation. They just need to fester until they either erupt into tumors worthy of amputation or they shrink like cut mushrooms in full sun.

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The Latin phrase, in vino veritas, translates into English as “in wine, there is truth,” suggesting a person under the influence of alcohol may be more likely than his or her sober self to reveal secrets or to speak thoughts best kept hidden. Witnessing the factual basis of the phrase play out in the “real world” can be funny or heartbreaking, depending on the secrets shared and the context—that is, the ears privy to the revelation. Of course, the revelation of secrets or thoughts or intimate opinions can spark more than laughter or anguish; anger, too, often erupts in such circumstances. But when the reaction is anger, it usually cools quickly, turning into a wound with a scab of distrust. Distrust takes a very long time to dissipate; even when distrust seems to have been replaced by confidence, it quickly can catch fire again with even the slightest provocation. In other words, trust takes much time and effort to build, but when rebuilt it rarely equals the strength of the original.

Of course it’s not just alcohol that prompts the revelation of potentially hurtful thoughts or facts. Sometimes, it’s simply oversight or mistake. Sometimes, it’s just non-malicious thoughtlessness. Sometimes it’s the intentional infliction of pain or a willful demonstration of power. And a thousand other triggers can do it. Whatever it is, revealing thoughts or secrets that have the potential for causing harm or grief is a mistake that is impossible to unmake.

If disclosure of a secret or an attitude or a behavior can only hurt oneself, the decision to disclose is clearly in one’s own hands. But if your disclosure has the potential to damage someone else, the secret does not belong to you; revealing it is akin to both theft and plagiarism.

Keep yourself busy in remembering your own faults, so that you have no time left to remember the faults of others.

~ Sufyan al-Thawri ~

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The advice of Sufyan al-Thawri is both useful and potentially harmful. While dedicating time to one’s own thoughts instead of the flaws in others is valuable, one might need be concerned that such an attitude could lead to low self-confidence. Somewhere along the spectrum between humility and pride is a sweet spot; a place where arrogance and modesty meet and agree on mutual respect. Getting to that place, though, involves traveling along a road whose surface is laced with dangerous fractures. Many never make it all the way. Depending on which side of the spectrum one begins the journey, the incomplete trip can be joyous or inconsolably sad.

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A guy who has been blowing leaves for me for quite some time came by last week to have another go at clearing the forest floor. As usual, when he and his partner finished the job, I asked “what to I owe you?” He replied with “$150 this time.” I was so stunned by the size of the amount that I simply wrote the check. After he left, I checked my phone to see when he called to say he was on his way over. I calculated that the two guys spent a total of about 45 minutes on the job. For a variety of reasons, I decided to wait until his next visit before confronting him with me displeasure and asking for an explanation. But yesterday I was convinced I should simply tell him, by text, that his services are no longer needed. So I did. My guess is that the guy did not value my business much; otherwise, he would not have overcharged me by asking for a relationship-ending amount. Until that incident, I would have (and have) recommended him to friends and neighbors. No more. Henceforth, I will warn people away from him. In my mind, he is not trustworthy. On the other hand, I probably should have questioned him right away about the obviously grotesque overcharge. But I did not. My mistake. My mistake and his led to my decision to terminate what could have become a long-standing relationship that might have been lucrative for him. Such is life.

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My brother is in the hospital again, just days before he is scheduled—finally—to move into a senior-living facility where he will have: comfortable quarters, access to social activities and entertainment, three meals a day, and people around him who can provide help when he needs it. I am crossing my fingers and hoping with everything I have that he quickly recovers from rapid spikes and dips in his heart-rate so he can get back to his move, soon after which he likely will have heart surgery.

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I had interactions with AT&T yesterday that once again convinced me the company should be dissolved and its executives imprisoned for crimes against a just society. My hopes for the layers of thieves and incompetents in the company go beyond wishing for job loss and incarceration. I truly believe  the Bell system should have been completely dissolved during the 1984 monopoly breakup and AT&T should have been scrapped as a corporate entity. Each local telephone entity should have been required to interact seamlessly with the others; any additional services (e.g., internet, television, etc.) should have been highly regulated and subject to limits on pricing, profitability, and power. Because the Supreme Court has determined that corporations are like people, I think it is natural for me to dislike AT&T in the extreme (HATE, in other words) as if it were a person who repeatedly assaults me and attempts to steal my money and try my patience.

Glower means to look or stare with sullen dislike, discontent, or anger. I hope today can somehow transform my tendency to glower into an appreciation of the beauty of flowers within my line of vision. I’m not betting on it, though.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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