“Do you remember why we stopped hanging out with that couple?” I asked my wife this past week. “I honestly don’t remember.” We’d seen the picture of one them on Facebook.
“You didn’t agree with his New Age beliefs,” replied my wife.
At that response, I have a vague recollection of what New Age is, how it is out of alignment with my beliefs, but then, I realize, “Who the heck was I to get all holy-roller on them and write off all possible relationships?”
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It’s a lesson I’ve learned as I advance in age, although not quite elderly as the venerable prophet on the mountain at the Blue Skunk Blog. Don’t write people off because they have ideas you think are worthless. People shouldn’t end up on the discard pile ever. If I had a message to my younger 21 year old self, it would be to be more tolerant than I was at the time. As we slide down the corridors of time, the people we know and build relationships grow less and less. I look back and realize how precious friendships made–no matter how weird–in the morning sun are when twilight looms.
Sitting on the floor at seven and a half years ago, looking at my Dad dying of cancer, as we tried to decide what to keep or throw away, years of accumulated papers hung around. He’d realized his time was up, and took me upstairs to clean his home office. In the end, time ran out and I had to clean the whole awful mess. . .I vowed that I would never do this to my own children, not that my Dad ever set out. He had plenty of time, or so he thought, to do it himself. One week later, he was in the hospital. Two weeks later, he need not have worried about his messy office.
When my Mom moved from her apartment in 2013 (what a year!), which was stuffed with about 60% stuff we hadn’t gotten rid of in 2006, my wife, 2 children and I strained puny educator muscles carrying bags of junk to the dumpster (hint: move to an apartment because dumpsters are handy, unlike your home where you have a limit). For awhile, I thought I was having a heart attack until I remembered that lugging 20+ bags of trash had strained my burgeoning middle-age musculature. Again, I vowed to clean house…and my children said to me, “Dad, please clean up. We don’t want to do this again…ever!”
What finds its way into your discard pile? When I look around my home office, I am surrounded by notebooks, pens, pencils, book series that I read with my father, then my daughter (e.g. Dana Fuller Ross’ Wagons West), a collection of bibles (you never know when you’ll need to fling one at a demonic intruder ), and countless crap I’m holding onto my mother decides she doesn’t need it any longer. I leave the gate unlocked on my house in the hopes that someone will steal the old stuff on the porch that doesn’t work anymore (e.g. treadmill).
This isn’t me, though. I started life throwing everything away…from relationships to stuff. After all, it’s all online or available via Amazon.
So here’s my question: am I as ruthless about discarding my old beliefs, values, assumptions, and goals as I am about scrapping broken toys, obsolete electronics, and unworn sweatshirts?…How do you know what to keep and what to discard from your professional practice?
As a blogger, I’d like to say that I’m as tough with my ideas, but the fact is, I’m not. I find myself revisiting old topics in 10,000 posts since I started blogging, and it can be irritating to ponder this. Here are my questions for identifying poor ideas:
- Is it stupid?
- Is it dated and does it apply any longer?
- What the heck was I thinking?
- Does it fundamentally change my life for the better?
- Will it lead me down a joyful path (e.g. broccoli), or one of transitory happiness (e.g. chocolate shake) and what’s the consequence?
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