In this hustle bustle time of the holidays that we all (hopefully) just survived, I often find that in addition to the friendly banter that includes the “how’s your family?” “how’s your job?” and “What’ re you doing to celebrate the holidays?” line of chat, I tend to be a bit more open to, and for, others. I think that in addition to a constant reflection of the year that is almost over, and anticipating the new one ahead, I feel a sort of openness to people. Maybe it’s just the basic desire to ‘be nice’ around the holidays…ya know - go the extra mile, smile instead of snarl, bite your tongue, smile and nod…that kind of thing. But maybe also, this “good will toward humans” feeling lends itself to being more ‘real’. Probably the best way for me to describe this, is when I ask someone “How are you?” and they honestly tell me more than I expected - they give more than the ‘pat’ answer, they shine a light on how they really live their life, tell me what they’re feeling about something that’s happening with them – a connection that didn’t exist before is created, and the person makes themselves more visible to me as an individual. That’s a pretty cool thing. It is always refreshing to me when people can ‘let go’ a little more than usual for the holidays, in an effort to enjoy what I think most of us recognize as a potentially joyful season.
The flip side of this is anticipating reciprocity. I ask you a question or two and listen; you ask me one or two - and listen. But, that doesn’t always happen. Some folks, whether it’s holiday time or not, are either not socially equipped for that kind of give & take, or just can’t get past their own ‘stuff’ to really give a damn one way or another (no matter how much they protest to the contrary). When this happened to me, oh- about mid way into the ‘holiday’ season - I admit I was pissed, and upset. So ok, “que sera sera”, it’s the holidays, whatever. BUT when the same people continually act as though I’ve never told them more than my opinion of frosted flakes vs. cheerios, as I listen to their current life drama for the umpteenth time??? Give me a break. But, oh yeah!…it’s the holidays, and I’m gonna take it in stride, because as someone reminded me not too long ago, “you never really know what people have going on in their lives”, no matter what they tell you. So true. Could be worse than I imagine, could be better than they’re making it out to be, but in any event I’ll just try and be a friend - a good, loyal, faithful, listening, advising or warning (if asked), ‘man’s best friend’, dog-friend. I know who mine are, and I am thankful for them. I’m grateful too, that I realized the importance of ‘being a dog’ before I launched into what may have come across as a selfish, egocentric, and needy rant for mutual understanding and caring in a friendship or two (even though I truly believe that I deserve those things in my relationships).
I guess the old cliché is true - you can’t teach old dog new tricks, and I surely know you can’t change people. I’m starting to think acceptance gets easier as we age. Either that, or my self image is no longer tied to what other people do or don’t do; say or don’t say – no matter how much I care about them. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can depend on an old dog trained well.