He with the Most Poise Wins

By Robyn Justo

The other day I was browsing (wasting time) on the internet and something caught my eye. It was a letter to an advice columnist written by a 60-year old gal who said, “My life is a failure.”

It didn’t take long until my insides tightened up. Truth is in the reflection and I was feeling some familiarity as I read on. She felt she had made some “bad” decisions about relationships, had no money in the bank, and so on. I noticed that the whining wasn’t about anything like a death in the family or a serious illness. It was just that this woman didn’t meet her own expectations.

I used to be that person. One only stops whining and making everyone else miserable (and loses all of her friends…ok I kept the real ones) when she gets tired of hearing herself. It’s cathartic. I thought I should be in a relationship or married, have a kid or two, and a myriad of other requirements that I (or someone) told myself that I needed to be or do in order to qualify as successful in this brief interlude I was spending on Planet Earth. (Insert pouty face.)

So were my short relationships failures, especially when some of my partners turned out to be my very best friends after we ended things? And did I need to be involved with someone and make it work when I was more miserable with him than without him?

We arrive here with a big WAH. I sometimes wonder if it’s because none of us are really happy to be squished in a little tiny body after being pushed out of a very comfy place. Do other mammals scream when being born? Don’t think so. I also wonder if people in third world countries ruminate about being a failure. I think not when the major concern is getting enough to eat.

It’s also devastatingly sad when celebrities who, from the outside looking in, are strikingly successful and yet they suddenly off themselves.

Maybe it’s enough that we showed up here. Maybe there is no failure but just a slew of experiences that occur with or without our consent. Perhaps if we humbly remembered that we arrive in the middle of eternity and will soon be forgotten unless we are a really, really illumined human (think Jesus, Gandhi or Mother Teresa) or a really, really nasty one (think Atilla the Hun, Hitler, Trump) we might be able to exhale and not be so hard on ourselves since few will know that we ever existed at all.

Maybe it’s enough to be nice and love our neighbors. This isn’t always easy because some humans are not easy to be nice to and have endless expectations of us and aren’t nice back. It might be easier with strangers, oddly enough. Maybe it’s enough to simply try, and give up the parking space to the other one who wants it or hold the door open at the post office for someone even if it means you end up behind them in line.

Speaking of, how about improving our wait state? How about chatting to those around us who are also waiting and don’t want to be there in the crowds or the traffic either and pass the time with a smile or a giggle instead of huffing and puffing which only blows the house down.

I was at Safeway the other day and passed a man in the produce department. I was not trolling (I’m over that) nor did I have an agenda, but I smiled. A few minutes later he walked by me and thanked me for smiling. Really? Something so simple? We all need it. If we make someone else’s life a bit brighter or easier, maybe then it’s a successful day and even a successful life. (Permission to exhale here.)

They say that when we die that we have a life review. I know I don’t want to be in the back row, cringing as I watch that movie, but I know I will in parts. With age and impending mortality comes introspection and retrospection, or at least that would make sense.

All I did today was go to the laundromat, go grocery shopping, have lunch, cruise and peruse the net while I popped pistachios, and started this article. Does that make me a failure? I was nice out there in the world or at least I tried to be.

The most profound advice I have heard in a long time was something I read on a little card recently. “Live the way you want to be remembered.” Hmmm.

Make someone laugh and don’t let the door slam in someone’s face as you fight to get ahead of them.

Love one another. Be nice. Remember to exhale. Plain and simple. He with the most poise wins.

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