A Fine Whine
Like so many, I said good-bye to 2021 with a combination of hope, dread, exhaustion, optimism, and strong desire for things to be different.
The very nature of things, of course, is that they are exactly as they are.
In this present moment, at least.
Maybe things were different yesterday or they might change in ten minutes or tomorrow, but right now, they simply are as they are.
I love that.
I hate that.
Lather, rinse, repeat…
Sometimes I manage to carry the wisdom that’s said to come with the experience of wandering around for six decades and change. On other occasions I’m the very embodiment of my hurt, entitled inner 4-year-old, whining (out loud) about the unfairness of it all.
If ever there were a time for that wounded child to be activated and turned – in grand “This is Spinal-Tap” fashion – up to 11, this would be it.
The funny (or not) thing is, what gets that inner injured one going is seeing that same behavior in others.
Not to get too vivid, but I’m about to: It’s like being part of an instant puke parade where one kid tosses his cookies in the back of the classroom, and the next thing you know, every other kid in the room with a sharp nose and a weak stomach (not a good combination) is losing their lunch.
If you’re thinking, “Geez Ken, that’s beyond gross!”, exactly! I feel your pain.
But like those kids, I get most whiney when I see whiners out there getting their whine on and leveraging it.
For me, the ones I’m most likely to react to are those in the political realm.
And as we were coming up on the anniversary of last year’s Capital Insurrection, looking over the detritus left in the wake of a still-rolling tsunami of Big Lie conspiracy theory nonsense, it’s clear that entitled whining has become the new ‘Murican norm.
Meanwhile, state legislators across the land are crafting policy around their whining.
I also get my knickers knotted up seeing and hearing about entitled grown-ups, most never having worked a customer service job in their lives, tearing into restaurant waitstaff because their food got cold after they, the customer, spent minutes styling and photographing their plate to post on Insta.
See, I’m getting all whiney, just like that!
Here’s the rub: In the political and food service examples, neither whining party took the time, energy, or effort to slow down and ask why things are the way they are. They didn’t stop to wonder about or question how they got that way.
And in the rush to change what’s so, they dashed past nuance and complexity to latch onto the simplest solution.
Which, due to the overly expeditious tendencies of our big brains, goes quickly to blame and dehumanization: The waitstaff becomes flawed servile machinery slinging cold food. Those with different political ideals become inconvenient “others”, shady animal-like speedbumps slowing a righteous, entitled agenda.
Slowing down to observe, to ask questions, to assess and gather information – all these are conscious, adult functions. In an increasingly polarized, self-absorbed adolescent culture, moving slower is a relatively rare practice…
And I do mean practice.
Curiosity, like meditation, takes energy and focus to develop and maintain. Its rewards, including seeing a bigger picture, learning, and understanding divergent opinions and ideas, are many. And, of course, it requires slowing down, engaging, asking questions… and listening.
And it’s pretty much impossible to listen and learn whilst whining and railing against what’s so.
And yeah, as you can guess from my comments at the top of this piece, I’ve tried weaseling my way into the center of the Universe via a few fine whines.
It doesn’t end well.