“Toning Down” The Ugly

“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature. “It’s time to see and listen to each other again.” (Joe Biden) 

Finding a life of peaceful contentment at home seemed very important to Paul after thirty plus years of stressful leadership as a teacher/professor in diversely populated South Florida. Thus he would not fear this radical lifestyle transition to slow down after retirement, for being  adaptable  to change in dealing with his underprivileged students in the classroom seemed to be a main “calling card” of his prior educational success then.  Furthermore, Paul’s struggles  with such challenging student situations had also fully prepared him for avoiding confrontation in his later life by accordingly embracing opposing points of view.

Yet as the Corona pandemic had deepened in the past year, the dynamics of human encounter had radically changed for Paul. For the drastic uncertainties of disease exposure and prolonged isolation of being indoors had deadened his enjoyment of most casual human  encounters. While his more outgoing wife Marjorie seemed more adept at moving beyond such social upheaval with phone “chit chats” and quick text messaging each day, the more introverted Paul thus frequently fell into fits of being programmed to feel alone.  

As a consequence of such negative introspection, Paul’s emotions on each passing day periodically alternated between sulking fits and toxic rants. For it seemed he could no longer tolerate well any noticeable distractions in  the outside world. Consider for example his sudden overreaction to the chaotic clamor of barking dogs, a screaming mother and her needy children resonating  from the recently  occupied rental unit next door. Likewise, understand Paul’s chronic irritation upon hearing the unpleasant sounds of construction workers banging/drilling on the front catwalk of his building for weeks at a time. Visualize as well how the macho young  guy in the unit below spiked Paul’s blood pressure  by loudly revving up his  heavy truck engine for several  minutes every morning before leaving for work.

Fortunately, I can report new hope for Paul’s inner crisis in this story as the enlightened leadership of newly elected President Joe Biden would no doubt spark a sudden  “wake up” call in this critical juncture of his evolving life. For Mr. Biden’s statement in his inaugural speech  to “walk in the other person’s shoes for a moment” seemed to resonate instantly with Paul as a way out of his current behavioral “funk.” Observe for example that these timely  words of the President would motivate Paul  to “strike up” some friendly conversations of mutual interest with his new neighbor as a prerequisite to getting her full attention about the required courtesies of dog/children behavior. It might seem equally apparent to you that as Paul engaged  in pleasant, “small talk” with the big truck owner about his “souped up” vehicle or respectfully inquired with the construction worker about the fine details of his  pounding/drilling efforts, that these caring actions would  help “get through” to each of them eventually to change  their noise altering ways. For as the old saying goes, he reasoned again, “you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.”

So at the very least, the  passing of time into 2021 had produced a beautiful rainbow on the uncertain horizon for this currently distressed retiree to break out of his self inflicted cocoon of isolation. In fact, he would even feel inspired to volunteer as a healing activist at local  Community Center gatherings on upcoming Saturday mornings hoping to share his captivating stories from his travels and teaching days to strangers who had also been afflicted by loneliness and job loss amid the exploding pandemic. What actions then might feel right for you now in extending a hand  to others in curtailing the ugliness of our divided country now?

8 thoughts on ““Toning Down” The Ugly

  1. I can relate to “Paul” on some level. Staying positive takes hard work when the world is in chaos. Chatting with likeminded people helps. And sharing your knowledge will help others and be satisfying to you as well. I do have renewed hope with Biden at the helm. But I have to turn off the news quite often again because apparently the GOP is back at it slinging mud and lies and I can’t let their negativity get to me. However, we do have to stay aware because we can’t go down the same blind path that brought us DT and his extremists. Plus, the pandemic is scary as heck. We must let our minds go to happy places. Good music, good books, good friends and great television can transport us to a happier state of mind. Dealing with cancer, Trump and a pandemic all at the same time has taught me that we need to focus on what we CAN control. We can choose to be happy. Not every second, but pretty often. And being grateful makes me smile a lot. These are strange times but we shall endure! ✌️

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