I hear the sound of my own voice at home only when I am talking to myself (c’mon—you know you do it, too), or when I address the other life unit here—Clarence-the-Canine: Do you need to pee? Are you hungry? Wag, wag, wag. But when I want to hear the sound of another human my only choice at the moment—unless I am talking to Handsome Chef Boyfriend—is the radio, because I am too parsimonious to pay for cable or satelite television. Funny how it is possible to have it on and still tune it out, until you hear something of consequence.
This was the case a few days ago when I was packing away the last of Christmas and restoring order to my living room (yes, I know). These timely words from jazz great Wayne Shorter yanked me back: Boring is a trademark of being arrogant and complacent. I dropped what I was doing to get this on paper because I recognized its immediacy and relevance.
Please, universe, let me never be a bore.
Had I grown arrogant or complacent about anything in my life in the last decade or so, I was certainly peremptorily extracted from that condition a year ago last October, and still feel the aftershocks if not daily, then weekly at least. I had an especially rude awakening recently that required immediate action on my part with dire consequences had I not taken it; I owe the alert to two kind employees in an insurance office who took it upon themselves to apprise me of the potential train wreck before it was too late.
With each aftershock comes another subtle shift, another small change in the landscape. Taken as a whole the small changes can seem huge, and in no time flat I am able to work myself into a rapid-pulse-hyperventilating-pacing-the-hallway dither. I have learned to stop and take some deep breaths and reconsider strategies.
The challenge is avoiding bitterness, and that is huge. Stories of excess from particular people in the last chapter of my life, whose fingers continue to reach into its current chapter, make their way back to me and infuriate me, not because I want to drive (yet another) BMW, or own a trendy business, or surround myself with people fawning over me for my opinion about something because (I think) I am an expert—a huge rock star in the slightly over-the-hill firmament—but because I want to put gas in my car and go to the grocery store without wiping the sweat from my brow, every. single. time. I want legally binding promises made to me, promises that affect the quality of my life, to be honored.
I submit that people who think the rules the rest of us must observe, the ones we in our free society agreed on before we made them, somehow do not apply to them, are dangerous people. Yes, really. This includes people who go careening down the Interstate because their agenda is more important than yours, and it also includes anti-government militants, and every point along the continuum between these extremes. If this does not infuriate you, it certainly should. Even if your immediate life is not touched by one of these complacent, arrogant, Teflon-coated bores. To those arrogant and complacent people I say this: you are the droid we’re looking for. The storm troopers have arrived to bust you for being boring.
Hang around. This could get interesting.