Saturday, February 12, 2005

Coffee and Another Pivotal Moment

I'm having my second cup of coffee right now, sitting on the couch. Coffee, for me, is vitally important in the morning and in the post-lunch afternoon food coma, but I won't settle for a cup of it from just anywhere. I have a little single-cup coffeemaker and usually its ground dunkin donuts coffee, but today I had some Newport coffee. Years ago I used to think it was the mark of a man to drink a strong cup of coffee black. I have since learned the error of my ways, finding that the true mark of a man is in admitting that only with light cream (not whole milk, not skim milk *shudders*, not non-dairy creamer *shudders again*) does a cup of coffee approach Nirvana. What about sugar, you ask? I choose not to candify my coffee that way. I love that word "Candify". It's a completely made-up word I blatantly stole from one of my coworkers who is still one of the unwashed heathen that drinks their coffee black. Should he ever read this he may, in fact, pick me up and throw me into the nearest body of water, but the chances of that are remote. One more question before I leave the subject of coffee. Is there a Patron Saint of Coffee? If not, why not?

Before I move on to another Pivotal Moment in my life, I'll give you the brief rundown on what's currently happening in my life. The woman I'm dating is on vacation in Florida, having a great time and staying warm. It's actually some kind of work-seminar, but they get lots of time off and have spent two days in Disney. I'm just a little envious. Today is going to be a great day because I get to go see my son! I haven't decided what we're going to do yet, maybe stop by a place that has little radio controlled race-car races. He loves that - it's so much fun watching him get excited and having fun. We'll have lunch, of course - he's getting to the point where he likes to feed himself with the fork, though it still gives him a little trouble. He also likes to occasionally feed me. We will have to stop and pick out a new matchbox car - that's one of the traditions that has developed on our day, the new matchbox car. When we're opening the box he'll get real excited, clapping his hands and saying "yaayyy!"

My wife has obviously been talking to her attorney and gotten news she did not like - she's back to nearly one-word emails. I always confirm by email the day before I pick up my son the time I'll be there. I decided to start confirming because she sometimes doesn't remember changes to the time, even when it's a change she's asked for. Usually she'll write a little more than "OK" or "That's fine". When she's down to those kinds of responses it usually means she's mad. I'll probably hear some complaints when I get there.

So on to another moment. I've said before that I'm a very optimistic person. The moment I decided to develop that kind of outlook on life occurred while I was in the navy. At the time I was an instructor, and I was complaining about something, I don't even remember what it was. I guess I complained a lot in those days. The person I was complaining to was several years older than I was and had a great outlook on life. He was listening, but then he interrupted me. He said "Stop - why are you complaining so much? You have so much more potential than that". Have you ever had something said to you that just stops you in your tracks? That was one of those moments. I did a lot of thinking about what he said over the following days and weeks. It led me to thinking about life in general and what kind of person I wanted to be. It made me think about how some people just seem to have it all together and love life. So I started becoming the person I wanted to be. I want to enjoy life most of all, I only get one chance to get it right. If I let myself be unhappy and dwell on what's unfair or wrong, what does it accomplish? The time I spend being in a bad mood or unhappy is time I could have been doing something I enjoy or just being in a good mood in general.

It wasn't easy going from where I was to where I am now. I had to learn how to avoid letting events get to me. If it was out of my control I learned not to worry about it. That doesn't mean I don't care, it just means I refuse to be anxious when it will have absolutely no effect on the situation. I don't hold anger in - when I recognize that I'm getting angry I think about whether what I'm angry about is worth giving up some of my life. Usually, it's not. It's not foolproof, but it's far and away better than letting events control my mood. I also decided that if I wanted to complain about something I had to earn the right to do it. Earning the right to complain means that when I find something good or positive about something or somebody I have to point it out. I figured a 10:1 ratio would be a pretty good start, but now I'm well beyond that.

I've found that it's helped me in my work and interpersonal relationships with people. People have commented to me on how I rarely complain about things and that I bring a positive attitude to the situations I'm in. My manager has noticed it and told me he appreciates it - there are times when a change at work could be taken either way, and I help bring a positive outlook to the team. My coworkers all know what has happened with my marriage and it amazes them that I've coped as well as I have with it. I think this has been the most severe test of my outlook on life I've ever experienced. I'm pretty sure I've passed the test. I can't imagine where I'd be if I was the kind of person to dwell on the half-empty cup.

Would I be the person I am now if not for that coworker in the navy? I don't think so - I owe him a lot. I think I can take some credit for doing all the work within me, but I also have to recognize the catalyst. I'm very interested what the counselor will think of all of this when we eventually get into it - and how he can help me improve even more.

Time to post this. I'm off to go pick up my little guy.