Getting older is a curious thing.
On the one hand, I find I'm more patient with people in general. A little more willing to extend grace, if you will. If someone is a little cranky or not quite behaving themselves, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, imagining that perhaps they've just lost a loved one or they have a killer migraine or maybe they're just having an exceptionally crappy day.
I think part of this is due to simply having been alive a little longer on this earth. I've had enough of my own days where I wasn't as kind or forgiving as I probably should have been, and those around me still let me go on living. I've also seen more of the everyday suffering of those around me, and learned that sometimes life just sucks, and you don't always have it in you to paste a fake smile across your face. And that's okay.
On the other hand, I find I'm not as patient with people in general. Yes, I recognize that this is a contradiction. I have never claimed to be the most logic-driven person on earth, okay?
I think the people on the receiving end of my impatience are those who complain all.the.time. Nothing ever goes their way. They are rarely happy. And they are always ready to tell you aaaalllll about it. (Although somehow this doesn't bother me as much if they can at least be a little funny about it.) I suppose I've never been partial to whiners.
I think this is, again, due to the fact that I've experienced a little more and met more people as I've gotten older (funny how that works). And you know who complains the most? People who have no real right to do so. The people who seem to have been hit by hardship after hardship, who have had truly tragic childhoods, who you swear really have walked through the valley of the shadow of death? They're not the whiners. Not in my experience, anyway. They tend to be the ones who have more of a "You know what? Bad things happen to everyone. Might as well focus on the positive and move the heck on," kind of attitude.
I'm not sure what spurred this little moment of introspection. Actually, scratch that. I do know. I went to book club this morning, and this month's book was almost invariably dour. What is with this trend among current fiction that communicates, "I'm negative and depressing and thus real." These books are often critically acclaimed for being so real and everyone always talks about how great they are because they're just so, you know, real. Standing in direct counterpoint to this really terrible book are the members of my book club, most of whom are two generations older than me, most of whom have seen hellacious tragedy in their lives, because that's what happens when you've been alive for a long time. Guess how many of them whine about it? Guess how many I've heard complain about their pasts or their lot in life? Zero. They acknowledge the bad stuff, the things that sometimes make my mouth fall open, then they move on. Because that's what you do. You brush yourself off. You make a joke. You move on.
Okay. Grump-fest over.
NOTE: I do not intend for any of this to apply to those suffering from clinical depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders, or any of a host of other mental illnesses. For many people, you can't just make yourself move on, and you can't simply choose to be happy. This post is solely about whiners. And authors who are incapable of lightening up. The end.