I’m Not Always…

There are many adjectives that I can use to end this sentence. I’m not always: brave, forgiving, honest, kind, reasonable, supportive, understanding. The sentence-ending-adjective that I’m most ashamed of is “kind.” I’m not always kind. Usually my lack of kindness is limited to my thoughts (yes, sometimes I think unkind thoughts – bad Jennie, bad). My lack of kindness can become verbal and involve hand gestures when I’m driving. When working, my lack of kindness usually grew from fatigue, or had its roots in my unreasonable expectations of co-workers, or my frustration with those who were unwilling to forgive me for my mistakes.

The list of words that I can end my “I’m not always” sentence with includes “forgiving.” Uh oh! That worldwide bestseller, the Bible, says we’re forgiven as we forgive. I’m in deep doo-doo. I’m certain that in my Excel spreadsheet in the sky, my “Needs Forgiving” column is much longer than my “Given Forgiveness” column. I thought I would give the Microsoft product, Excel, a little plug here just incase they could use the marketing boost. I love Excel because it does all kinds of math for the user, that I could never figure out how to do on my own. Okay, I digress (I’m pretty consistent in my habit of digression). Back to the quantified “Forgiveness” columns in my spreadsheet. Things listed in my “Needs Forgiving” column date all the way back to my childhood. My “Given Forgiveness” column would be much longer if I would lighten up and be kind.

I need to forgive Ayn Rand for her selfish-centered philosophy of Objectivism. I still think she’s wrong, but I need to quit taking it personally. So what, Ayn Rand, if my being nice is motivated by my desire to win other people’s approval. At least being nice benefits me and whomever I’m nice to. Oops, I’m sorry Ayn Rand, I don’t fully understand what led to the formulation of your philosophy (another word to add to the possible endings for the “I’m not always” sentence: empathetic).

Retirement has provided me with the time I need to evaluate my past behavior and see what a jerk I could be. To those to whom I was not kind, I ask your forgiveness (I’m sure it includes many who are not among the 20 or so people who read my blog, but for those who do, please forgive those times when I was unkind). I have imagined slights where there were none. “Letting go” of those misinterpretations lightens my forgiveness-requiring load. You may have noticed that “imaginative” is not among the possible endings for my “I’m not always” sentence. My overactive imagination has long resulted in my misinterpretation of events.

When it comes to “forgive and forget,” age has really helped with the forgetting; I’ll have to put some effort into the forgiving and eliminate most of what I thought needed my forgiveness. Retirement HAS really boosted my kindness quotient (being pulled this way and that frequently resulted in unkind behavior on my part – particularly to my family – for which I ask forgiveness). Being kind requires a certain amount of time, and retirement has given that to me. Thank you retirement! I really LOVE retirement. I really LOVE my friends and family. I really LOVE being kind. It makes me feel good and I’m kind of selfish that way. Sorry, Ayn Rand.

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