Bureaucracy Brain

Having been academically trained in both sociology and psychology, I don’t know who to be angry with when venting my frustrations: myself or the bureaucratic systems with which I interact.  May I start with the postal and delivery bureaucracy?

Our business, my husband and mine, uses some digital delivery but we have and do rely on traditional package delivery for the bulk of our product delivery.  Ninety nine percent of the time this goes without a hitch, thank you.

However, a certain delivery company has befuddled me off and on for about a year.  I’ve rarely had to use them but on occasion a customer requests them.  Thrice now, we’ve had problems with what appears on the surface like it should be a fluid process of online shipping.  Appearances deceive.

I admit that I have made mistakes in the past with their online forms.  I input an incorrect customer billing account number.  I paid, specifically eighteen dollars, for that mistake.  They were going to charge me thirty-six dollars but forgave me eighteen, one time and one time only, after I pitched a fit.

I vowed I’d never make that mistake again.  But I am a smidge leery now when completing those online forms.  Having made that unnecessarily costly mistake, I’m very careful now.

So, I went into a royal tizzy when the delivery driver one day shortly after the holidays, handed me a package that I had diligently sent, nearly a week prior.  I momentarily expected him to hand me a gift or something nice that I had ordered.  But this can’t be!

Why was it returned?  Stamped all over my original label was something like, “incorrect street address, undeliverable.”  I feared déjà vu, and panicked a little; had I made another mistake?

I spent the rest of my day making phone call after call, trying to sort this out between my customer, and the delivery company.  I minutely observed the company’s webpage containing details of my shipment, double checking account numbers and alternate addresses.  All day, mind you.

I’m like a dog with a bone when there’s a problem to be dealt with.  Until it’s solved, I’m on the job.

With that particular problem, it was the company bureaucracy gone awry.  Plain and simple.  They claimed the address on our label was incorrect.  But my customer confirmed it was indeed their correct address and they receive deliveries all the time at that address.

So, at their behest, we switched out labels and sent the package again, with an apology and a “we’ll delete that first label and bill.”  The package was delivered a few days hence without further incident.

You understand my trepidation when yet another customer asks us to use that delivery company.  It was too soon, after the first trauma, ha-ha.

But I carefully and diligently packaged the product, presented it at the front door, alongside packages for two other delivery companies, and carried on with my day.  Don’t you know that package laid there overnight and was never picked up.

Oh, my heavenly goodness, geez and golly!  I can think of no more, even half-way civil ways to express my dismay.  Un-believable.

I knew it wasn’t a good idea to start my morning with a phone call to that company, but everything I could do online was exhausted.   I started the call armed with pickup and tracking confirmation numbers on my computer screen, and the best and most hopeful and positive attitude I could muster.

I kind of held my breath and dialed.  Here goes.

I hung up and started over a few times because I got stuck when guessing which number to push, in the automated system.  This time, right away I demanded a representative or agent or whatever they call a human being.

Not sure I was happy with the person I got, I really tried to stay positive and calm.  I remember making myself speak slowly, softly and stick to the facts.

After supplying those numbers on my screen along with confirming the addressee’s details – don’t ask me what that had to do with not picking up the package – she came back with, “I can’t confirm that pickup.  Our system doesn’t recognize those numbers.  If you can find a driver or deliver it to a pickup site you can send it that way.”

I could feel my blood pressure rising and I automatically deep breathed.  I said quite factually, “your system generated those numbers, how can your system not recognize the numbers it generated?”  I then suggested, I thought quite reasonably, that she cancels their bogus pickup and unrecognizable numbers and generate a brand-new pickup for this package.  She said, “well that will be another $10.49.”

I truly couldn’t believe what was happening in that moment.  I felt myself losing, my now fragile mental health.

I started to raise my voice.  You know how you do that because something inside you thinks they surely didn’t understand or hear you during the last fifteen minutes.  So, you get louder in hopes that they will get it through a bolder delivery method.

“Are you kidding me,” I shrieked.  “Your company shows on my history page on your website, a pickup number which your company now says it doesn’t recognize and you want me to pay you more money to correct your error in giving me a bogus pickup number, to give me a viable pickup umber?  I think I need to speak to a supervisor.”

She said the only thing anyone could do there is suggest that we find a driver or delivery store nearby.  Hang up.

Later in the day, we found a driver in the parking lot next door.  Can you say, never again!

Spare Parts

What to do with the spares?  Some people just don’t like leftovers.  If you’ve got an extra part, do you hold on to it or not?  Spare parts are easy to give away If they’re free of charge, as in the French, lagniappe.

As to spare parts, they might be on the shelf, as surplus, but we keep them, just in case.  They’re held in reserve, as a backup.

When putting anything together isn’t there always at least one spare partWhat are we supposed to do with the spares?  Is there a place for spares in the world? 

IKEA furniture is notoriously complicated to put together.  It might have something to do with the “rules for assembly,” which require some interpretation.  No wonder there’s a spare part or two left over when you’re finished.

We Americans don’t naturally take to being told how to live our lives, pioneers that we are.  We pitched-out the rule-book, long ago.

But when you’re from a centuries old royal family that has rules for geniture and pretty much everything else, their hierarchy demands that you live a certain way.  I think the feeling in that historical institution, family or not, is that the perks balance the inconveniences of being born royal, or marrying into the royal family.  It’s also known as noblesse oblige, or nobility obliges.

The late Queen Elizabeth, II set the standard for her family and those tied to the monarchy, regarding this moral obligation of those of high birth and in powerful positions.  It is their duty to behave with honor, kindliness, generosity, charity, and Christian virtue.  Working royals have jobs, tied to noblesse oblige.

There is a subtle expectation in America, as well, for those privileged with wealth and fame, to carry out noblesse oblige.  The Kennedy family comes to mind; and they paid a hefty price.

A few of the perks of royalty, fame, or celebrity, are recognition, admiration, and wealth.  The inconveniences are recognition or misunderstanding, admiration or the expectation of perfection, and wealth or lifestyle maintenance.

So, what if a person is spare Oh boy, Spare, the royal book of complaints and family drama amongst the privileged, jealous, ambitious, and leisured, has dropped.

I believe there is space for spares, just as there is a place for heirs.  Spare parts are dealt with in families, in convoluted ways.  I guess when you’re royal, you try to birth a spare heir, just in case.

“Don’t you have anything else to do” comes to mind when I say leisured, in reference to Prince Harry of the Sussex’s.  I get it, since he and his wife were cut off from British funds when they resigned from their family business, they had to make some big bucks in order to fund their fame.

Having already contracted for an extraordinary paycheck, after the first project, then another project, and another paycheck, from Netflix; they’re well on their way to funding their lifestyle.  However, with Spare now hitting the shelves, what’s not to sell, making a couple of notorious rich kids richer and their fame-hungry souls, more talked about?

Even if you’re the spare, it seems to me that there surely are more benevolent ways to work through the pain of your past, not to mention, to make money, than selling your family secrets, to the highest bidder.

I confess, I like a good memoir or biography; in fact, it’s my favorite genre.  However, I’m not so partial to tell-all’s.  They smack of revenge porn.  From the snippets being leaked from Spare, there are cringe-worthy stories in the book, that nobody should want to know about.  Can you say private?

And, airing the dirty laundry of your family, that’s just in poor taste.  I know the man had a ghost-writer, but perhaps he should have written in a pseudonym and classed it as a novel set in another time, place, and planet, even.

Is it even close to fair, for Harry to have so boldly and publicly told his side of the story when he knows full well, that it’s royal protocol for his family to “never complain, never explain;” therefore, they will not tell their side?  Patti Davis, the now-seventy-year-old child of a famous family has some advice for Prince Harry, “Be quiet.”

Davis also published a tell-all in her younger days, about the in-fighting and feuds of the Reagan family.  In her seasoned adulthood, she has said that her truth back in the day, was only one version of the truth, of which there are many versions depending on who is doing the telling.

“The other people who inhabit our story have their truths as well,” Davis said.  Her twenty-twenty hindsight, informs her to not have exposed the innermost secrets of her famous family, at least until she could “stand back and look at things through a wider lens.”

Davis continues in her wise, but certainly unheeded advice to Prince Harry, “Silence gives you room, it gives you distance and lets you look at your experiences more completely, without the temptation to even the score.”  She further says, “Not every truth has to be told to the entire world…  not everything needs to be shared, a truth that silence can teach.  Harry seems to have operated on the dictum that ‘Silence is not an option.’  I would, respectfully, suggest to him that it is.”

So, if you have a hankering to air your family’s dirty laundry, because you’re the spare, take Patti Davis’s advice and “Be Quiet.”  Sometimes it’s just better for everyone to keep your feelings of lack of appreciation or value, out of the public sphere.  Air your dirty laundry inside the fence, so to speak.

Perhaps you could metaphorically sit on your spare parts for a few years.  Let them mellow, and move on with your life.  Maybe you’ll find a use for those spare parts, or you won’t, and no harm’s been done.

It Takes Two

The complete saying is, “It takes two to tango.”  So, let’s talk conflict in partnerships.

The tango is a dance of intense passion between the dancing pair.  A marriage or partnership implies shared and balanced, but not necessarily equal responsibility toward the same goal.

The flow of responsibility in a partnership is like a seesaw.  One person takes the bigger load for a moment then it shifts to the other one.  It’s uneven at times but equitable, on balance.

In fact, one of the “fair-fighting” rules known to therapists worldwide, is the see-saw metaphor: speak, then listen, listen, then speak.  “Take turns,” we say to every three-year-old at one time or another, or to every sparring pair.

Recently my spouse and I were at the grocery store checkout and we were observed by other folks in line and the cashier, having what I would call a a moment of happy bickering. We bantered about concerning something or another that happened in our shopping experience.

I think he picked up something totally random that I hadn’t noticed until checkout where he was bagging and I was paying.  I proceeded to sarcastically joke that he was like the proverbial kid in the cart who picked up cotton candy or some such non-food-light-in-his-eyes-treat, behind mom’s back.

This reminded me of a story from the past.  After a kid, casually standing nearby, observed me and my spouse lightheartedly quibbling, I asked him if his parents’ squabble sometimes.  I was surprised that he outright said, no.

I was shocked to hear that any married couple never argue a matter.  Even considering that those parents maybe kept their rows away from their child, as is standard fight-protocol, I remained skeptical that they never heartily disagreed.

I assumed that every couple contends with one another, surely.  Having formally studied marriage and family, even getting an advanced academic degree on the subject, not to mention personal experience of more than forty years living and working with my spouse, I know a thing or two about marriage and family dynamics.

If you’re honest, and passionate enough about your relationship, you will engage in the occasional dispute Or you will avoid or ignore conflict only to let it build up and explode later.

After all, you are two separate individuals from two disparate backgrounds, with two divergent points of view on the world around you.  You grew up apart, even if you have history together.

In addition to those basic distinctions, you may compound atop them, differences in how you perceive and deal with finances, work, sex, leisure time, food, health, raising kids, politics, religion, communication styles, friends, relatives, and a vast number of other lifestyle factors.

That’s a lot of diversity, and occasionally there’s a clash of wills when we attempt to achieve unity from diversity.  About that tango thing, there are fair ways to fight and there is street fighting.

The point is, you’ve consciously joined together in a dance of life and sometimes it’s fiery.  So, there are rules to keep the blaze under control.

“And there’s another thing…”.  There’s always another thing.  But not now.  Tackle only one issue to argue about.  What’s the conflict that started this whole thing?  Deal with it now and save the other thing for another day.

Words matter, so communicate.  “I hear you,” and “I understand,” are the ultimate end-goal in every argument.  We all want to be heard and understood.

“What do you want from me?”  Be forthright and as concise as possible about exactly what you wanted in the first place without the complications of anger, frustration, past pain, fear, anxiety, dread, or any other emotion that pops up in a fight.

Stick to the point, which is to resolve your differences. Unity and agreement are the prize at the end of the fight.  Try to be specific about what needs to be done to resolve the issue.  Specificity can be a quick resolution to any argument if you can subtract the bluster.

If things feel like they’re escalating, take a break to be apart for a short time to ease the intensity.  Or, if you can, break the tension with humor; after all you’re both behaving like you’re three years old, so call it like it is; i.e., “this is stupid.”

In the tango, there are moments apart, then sudden and assertive togetherness.  And in a fair fight, self-awareness is allowed to grow out of alone time.  We can take that moment apart to humble ourselves and acknowledge our weaknesses, failures, and contributions to the conflict at hand.

Avoid the words, “always,” and “never;” keep it clean and respectful; and try not to mention divorce or breakup, the ultimate abandonment. It’s also best to fight on a full stomach and when rested; we’ve all been “hangry” at times, and it’s not the time to start something.

Oh, and preparation for holidays and vacations are lusciously ripe moments for picking a fight.  What with our Hallmark visions of perfection, peace, and love all the way around, watch out for some passionate reality to hit you square in the face.

Don’t keep score.  There should be no winner or loser in partnership fights.  The goal for partners is to be happy instead of being right. 

The ultimate goal is resolutionBlame has no place in a fair fight or in a tango, which takes two equal and responsible contributors.

Give yourselves some credit for potentially being creative problem-solvers when you find yourselves in a fight.  Know that there is a way to dance together that is satisfying to you both.  Fight fair and remember it “takes two…to tango.”

Equal Parts

I believe maybe we thought that after two years of actively fighting COVID, supply chain issues, inflation, political upheaval, shrinkflation and more, maybe 2022 would have turned it all around.  What do you think?

It’s been, in moments, a massively challenging year around here.  But there have been glimmers of joy and delight as well.  Let’s just call it even, as to equal parts of happiness and sadness.

For the second day in a row, I was on my back from a mild but noticeable reaction to a vaccine.  My daughter and husband gave me an appropriate amount of needed pity and encouraged me to rest.

It’s sort of funny that I’m someone who needs encouragement to rest.  But I do, how about you?

At eleven a.m. I responded from my bed, to my daughter’s supportive text, “I can’t guarantee that I won’t get a bee in my bonnet later and dig in to what needs done.”  My thoughts then turned to the bipolar character of life for many folks around the globe.

In the form of a disclaimer, please note that my thoughts in this or any of my columns are in no way making light of bipolar disorder or any other very real mental health issues.  I’m simply using the convenient and writerly adjective, “bipolar,” to describe opposing behaviors or moods that pop up in quick succession amongst most people, few of whom are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

I’ve noticed people this year have been surprising, delightful, frustrating, understanding, angry, supportive, uncooperative, generous, selfish, unexpected, and predictable.  It’s been a year of paradox, opposites in juxtaposition.

It feels at times like the universe is bipolar, not just people.

How many ways can you say difficult, hard, challenging, or not easy?  But then, the character of one’s day eases into a sort of fluidity, making the skeptical among us wonder, “what’s going on, and when is the hammer going to drop?”  Happy and sad, grumpy and glad. 

I’ll be awake at night and it’ll randomly occur to me, “I’m happy.”  That may seem weird, but it’s usually obvious even to the densest of us, when we’re sad.  But, happiness creeps up on you.

It’s been a year of crazy and calm.  For example, most days include a few notably crazy moments.  Frankly, in my word, those moments are often related to some sort of customer support network which is far from supportive, if not the cause of the crazy.

Or some corporation with which we have a relationship throws a curve into our orderly life, with a “creative accounting system,” which makes sense only to them. The calm usually comes after a fight full of fury and no fulfillment, and I’ve decided with very concerted effort, to “calm down and let it settle itself.”

Honestly, we could all say that we have in quick succession, the proverbial ups and downs.  It’s not just the elderly or ill who have good days and bad days.

There have been mistakes and recovery.  We have some unlikely teachers in life.  Mistakes are one of those teachers.  In fact, it is painfully known that mistakes and failures are some of life’s most important lessons.  But are we ready learners?  Do we take counsel from our mistakes?

“Have you learned your lesson?”  It’s called lifelong learning because we’re learning every day, with “equal parts” of what not to do mixed with what to do.  How many people do you know who teach you blatantly what not to do?

Speaking of equal parts, here are some of those parts of life like hinges, pins, springs, screws and such that have balanced themselves on the scales of 2022:

Struggles and strains, losses and gains.

Satisfaction and wanting.

Pajama days and straitjacket days.

It’s been settled and unsettling.

It’s been disappointing and hopeful.  I might be an optimist, or maybe I’m a pessimist.

It’s been a time of acceptance and rebellion.

I’ve had moments of activity and moments of rest; peace and frenzy.

It’s been busy yet “Father Time” has miraculously made his provision.

There has been feasting and fasting.

Some people have been friendly and others aloof.

Does it all even out in the end?  Maybe your scales are balanced in the final tally; I hope so. 

I hope you will recall 2022 like most people relate their childhood to their older parents.  You’ve surely been to a gathering of friends and family where some 30-something or 40-something “kid” tells a funny story of a near-tragedy or “secret escapade” that has been revealed to the folks for the first time (or maybe mom and dad just never let on that they knew….).

Here’s to forgetting the extremes and remembering the shades and shadows.  Cheers to 2023 and let’s hope for the best.


Santa’s Just Alright

Ever cognizant of “the reason for the season,” “Jesus is just alright with me.”  Are you singin’ it with me?  It’s one of those catchy tunes that you can’t get out of your head.  Sorry, not sorry.

I admit, I’m going back a bit in time.  The song I’m talking about was covered in 1972 by one of my fave bands of the time, The Doobie Brothers.  It is “Jesus Is Just Alright.”

Back in the day, the word, “alright,” or “all-right” meant very good, or way cool in today’s parlance; even awesome.  In the sixties and seventies, we used words like cool, groovy, nifty, swell, deep, neat, and far-out, to describe anything that was “most excellent.”

It was Bill and Ted (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989) who I recall, proclaiming, “be excellent to each other;” as well as just plain, “Excellent!” 

I don’t have a problem with speaking of Jesus and Santa in the same sentence.  If you do have a problem with it, I get it.

The manger, the wise men (magi from the East), the shepherds, the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the Inn with no room, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey too, the Star in the East, and the miracle baby.  All these elements mean Christmas, to me.

I remember with great nostalgia, Christmas music and candlelight services, and Santa.  I have no issue seeing all these delightfully enchanting, or as Bill and Ted would say, “most outstanding,” intertwining parts of Christmas all wrapped up in a pretty package.  All these things are a highlight of happiness in an otherwise imperfect childhood, and I remember it all.

But let me go off on a little bit of a tangent, Bill, and Ted-style, where it’s okay to think of Joan of Arc as Noah’s wife.  They weren’t so good at their Bible, but they were practical observers of life.

Well, in my book, Jesus is most excellent and so is Santa.  I grew up with the book, more accurately the 1954 poem by Clement C. Moore “Night Before Christmas;” and that’s the book I’m referring to in this little oratory, from Bill and Ted’s point of view; just an observer.  Oh, who’s kidding who?  I’m more than an impartial observer.

“’Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”   I memorized this all those years ago because the poem truly was one of the more momentous and mystical moments of my childhood.

The three of us girls would line up from our bedroom, through the kitchen, with our eyes closed, maybe even blindfolded, waiting for our parents to lead us into the tree-lit living room.  Santa had arrived in the night, during the few seconds that I slept, lighting the Christmas tree, leaving stockings bulging with an orange, a few walnuts to be cracked open later, and I don’t remember what else.

My excitement in that kitchen was palpable, because “the stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.”  We had no fireplace nor chimney, so our stockings laid atop a few presents under the tree.  But I was certain as certain could be that Santa had been there.

In the wee morning of one Christmas day, tragedy struck.  At least it was traumatic for my sister, Dee.  During our Christmas morning line-up, she had stepped on a needle, which mangled itself through her pink foam-rubber soled slippers and wedged itself into her foot.  I wonder if she remembers it quite like this.

But I remember Dad cutting away the flimsy slipper and untethering that dastardly needle from her foot, and nursing the wound.  Finally, mom and dad sent us off to the living room to lap up the joy that Santa brought, ever so temporarily into our young lives.

About him being overweight, don’t get me started.  “He had a broad face and a round little belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.  He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.”

Skinny Santa doesn’t cut it unless in comics, cartoons, or made-for-TV-movies, where he’s usually a costume-wearing, paid for hire, drunk.  No, no, no, not my Santa.  My Santa is everything good and generous, including his physique.

According to the poem, Santa was old, but lively and quick. And he came down the chimney “with a bound.”  Even though his ho-ho-ho may be the cause of the jolly fat person stereotype, doesn’t mean, well, it doesn’t mean anything, Ted.

He smoked a pipe and had rosacea and had a close relationship with reindeer.  Does any of that have to mean something, other than mystery and fun and happiness?  Can’t we just let it be?

Just give me a little bit of leeway.  For example, both Jesus and Santa are givers.  Jesus is the ultimate gift and Santa gives gifts.  For little kids, I don’t see a problem with explaining Santa as the fictitious embodiment in a red fur suit, of benevolent giving.  Both Jesus and Santa are “just alright with me.”

They Say

Let me begin this tome with a couple of what I call, “Poirot-isms.”  Hercule Poirot is a fictional Belgian detective, the brainchild of British mystery writer, Agatha Christie.

Poirot once said of himself, “he does not listen to this they.”   I take that to mean, that maybe we shouldn’t listen to what “they say,” unless “they” can be identified, to justify their point of view.  Who is “this they” anyway?

They say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  This was a medieval French phrase from c. 1190, but was made popular in Latin and English by English playwright John Heywood (1538), and included, “but they were laying bricks every hour.”  Think on that.

They say, “never meet your heroes.”  This one is interesting, and it might be applicable to the concept of fame, as well.  There is a line in Madame Bovary (published in 1856) in French of course, but translated to English: “You should never touch your idols: a little of the gold always rubs off.”  American writer, Erica Jong explains the concept of fame similarly, “fame means millions of people have the wrong idea of who you are.”

They say, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Jerome K. Jerome (1899), said this was a mischievous untruth that silly women believed, as they lost love in the parlor while wasting time in the kitchen.

They say, “marriages are made in heaven.”  Sixteenth century English writer and playwright, John Lyly concluded this saying with, “but consummated on earth.”  Clint Eastwood, famously couldn’t help himself, repeating the beginning of the verse, but concluding with “but so is thunder and lightning.” 

They say, “love is blind.”  In 1405 Chaucer, in The Merchant’s Tale gave us this saying which has been repeated by go zillions of keenly observant every-people.  Nietzsche added, “but friendship closes its eyes.”  Ponder that one.

Back to Poirot, after his sidekick, Hastings said, “It’s a thing…,” Poirot, in his famous third-person voice said, “Do you think Poirot concerns himself with mere thingness?”  I might question Poirot on this matter, in that most folks who observe the human condition, observe one thingness after another.

The concept of, “it’s a thing,” has apparently been around since at least the fourteenth century.  We’ve just added our cultural twist on this thing and that thing, making everything seem new.

Speaking of cultural twists on language, you’ve heard it said, “this is that.”  I said it even yesterday, in a note.  When referring to something of the past, and to bring it into the present memory, we say, “this is that.”

Hastings said, “Well, that’s that.”  To which, Poirot commented, “This is by no means that.”  Admitting that something is at an end, that it’s over, finished, or done, is too finite for some.  We prefer infinite possibilities.

 “That’s about the size of it.”  When we want to validate someone’s assessment about a relatively negative situation, we affirm them with this statement.  In short, we’re saying, “yep.”  I’ve noticed in French language television, that when they’re saying yeah, like we say yeah, they shorten the formal yes (oui, pronounced, “we”) to the informal and shortened (“way”).  Just sayin.

It is said that during World War II, some Dear John letters were pages long, with explanations galore as to why she was ending her relationship with him.  Other letters, reminiscent of today’s cryptic, break-up text messages, consisted of Dear John, and that’s all she said.  The joke that went around in the forties about that latter letter, was “That’s all she wrote.”  Ha-ha.

In the immortal words of Porky Pig, “th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

When Something Hurts

“Ouch, that hurts!” We’ve all been there, done that; some of us more than others.  But I think it’s surely universal that sometimes you hurt. 

There’s something about hurts, that highlight their opposite in the ordinary functioning of our lives.  Occasionally we become acutely aware of the value of all our body parts, when one of them hurts.  It reminds me of the 1988 Tim Keifer song, “don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

For example, most of us pay no attention to our digestive system until or unless it acts up, acts out, or acts wrong in some way.  Unless you’re a chronic dieter, you probably aren’t terribly preoccupied with the contributions you make to your digestive system.

Do you notice how awesome your bones are unless you break one?  There are from 206-213 bones in the adult body, not to mention all the supportive ligaments, joints and muscles that work together to assist our movements.  Can you give your miraculous skeleton a hearty hurrah for doing its job without much thanks from you?

What about your heart muscle and all its accessories?  I’ll bet you don’t think you’re a muscle builder until that vital muscle gives you some sort of warning, screaming, “I’m here!”   Or in the case of a broken heart, do we appreciate our feelings?  The whole array of emotions that enhance the color of our lives, escape our attention unless we’ve had hurt feelings.

And our skin, the biggest organ of our bodies, aside from slathering it with lotions, potions, and creams, do we really fuss with it in accordance with its importance unless it’s burned (hello, Jay Leno), scabbed, blistered, cut, wrinkled, bruised, or bleeding?

What about our eyes?  Most of us grow up thinking if our vision is impaired, we get glasses and all is good.  Then as we age, we become aware that there is something else, called eye disease.  We learn that we have a macula, an optic nerve, vitreous fluid, a retina, and so much more that can rebel in the form of hardening, cracking, glaucoma, cataracts, and all manner of fitting that we never considered, until now.

Beginning in the teenage years, when loud noise was a cool thing to enjoy, you didn’t once consider that one day, instead of a kitschy cell phone reception advertisement, someone would routinely ask you, “can you hear me now?”  Does anyone really want to wear hearing aids?

Who knew that hearing acuity affects brain function “Use it or lose it,” coined by American tennis player, Jimmy Connors, was never a truer statement than when applied to our precious brain.  I’m not sure we can appreciate our mind enough.  Our very loquacious brain tells us how to walk, talk, listen, digest, ruminate, emote; well, it tells us to “live and breathe and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Leg cramps that can be way more than a simple Charlie horse because you didn’t warm up before swimming, and effect you excruciatingly from feet to groin, make you value your legs.  Way beyond their shape and size, as revealed when wearing shorts, our legs give us the liberty of crutch-free mobility.  Appreciate them.

A splinter-free finger makes you appreciate your digits like nothing else.  Well, unless you have arthritis and rings are no longer your favorite jewelry.  A blister-free foot, ankle, toe, or heel makes you grateful for your feet; not to mention, freedom from bunions.

After a shot in the arm, you begin to see the merits of pain-free limbs.  After a C-section or other abdominal surgery, you realize no matter how paltry these muscles may have been, for example, a great distance from a six pack, they’re vital to movement from sitting to standing to the taken for granted, bowel movement.  Sorry, it may be indelicate to say, but it’s a fact.

Here’s a double negative for you, don’t be one who “don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”  If you’ve encountered near-death, I imagine that you have little trouble appreciating every single one of your body’s miraculous systems.  This includes, their ability to “heal thyself.”

What do you say we try to appreciate what we’ve got, in all its imperfect glory, here and now?  Don’t wait until it hurts to say thank you to your hard-working limbs, heart, liver, stomach, mind, reproductive and sex organs, feet, pancreas, emotions, nose and throat, joints, back, muscles, and so much more.

Maybe instead of crying, when it hurts, we should have a happy dance in celebration of all the other stuff that works according to plan. We could have an appreciation festival for all our physiological systems that work so hard for us every day.

Here’s a thought: “Optimism won’t change the situation.  But optimism will change how the situation feels.”  Maybe our hurts wouldn’t hurt so much if we injected a shot of optimism into our bum’s.