here's the glass half full:
roger clemens and dan duquette didn't like each other very much. (i think they were both right). though we like to warm our cockles with feel-good stories of life-long friends and loyalty made good instead, i'm quite sure the annals of fruitless amity would make a far-thicker volume. (right, silda?) so how, then, do we really choose how we feel and who we feel about it?
i'm reminded of jimmy stewart's soliloquy from "harvey", in which this choice is described as between oh so smart and oh so pleasant. (he recommends pleasant, btw, and you may quote him). i think i understand a little bit about what he means, as i've always in the past judged people and accumulated and cultivated my deeper friendships on a basis of oh so smart. yet, lately, i think i've grown up to recognize the value in people on a far more pleasant basis, and it's starting to create some friction.
for example, in a small group i used to manage, there were two women who could not have been from further points on the spectrum. the smart one, as you might guess, was very close to me, and i to her. (we still are). the pleasant one, as we might call her, was very much less so. but between my egalitarian ideals and my clearer sight, i was always able to find value in ms pleasant's other gifts, where my smarter friend was instantly frustrated and put out. "why do you put up with her?" was one of the more frequent inquiries. "she makes me want to pull my eyelashes out one by one just to listen to her talk" was one of the more frequent observations.
so just this past week, in germany, there was an ampitheater filled with half a dozen dozens of corporate do-bee's, in a presentation led by two particularly arrogant and overbearing blow-hards in desperate need of some humility. and though all of us oh-so-smarters were too wise to crack wise about it, there was one, bless her simple little heart, who had the innocence of ignorance enough to raise her hand and repeatedly ask the questions that were desperately needed to be asked, all the while prefacing each one with a beautifully simple "i don't get it". nope, nobody did. but only my pleasant old friend was there to simply be herself for the good of her compatriots. in that moment i knew exactly why it was right not only to not dislike her, but actually, to actively *like* her. to be oh so pleasant in fair trade for her oh so pleasantness. and it was only too bad my oh so smart friend wasn't there to experience it with me. i'd hope she'd understand.
valuing people for who they *are* and not how you prefer them to be is yeoman's labor. it requires patience and humility and a relaxation of everything that we are, in favor of everything that, perhaps, we are not and could never be. but we must. our disgust may be physical, and our revulsion visceral, but what are we in that moment but a roiling sea of all our worst? smart, maybe. but not smart at the same time.
i am resolved to treat kindness with kindness. scorn with kindness, too, but kindness, especially. i'm hopeful to replace the bitter and the judgmental with the sweet and the generous in my life, so that my energy can be saved for more important things. the unfortunate math of our lives is that spare time for pleasant can only be achieved at the expense of smart. you can't be both, because, as any smart person will tell you, it's not always smart to be pleasant, and as anyone who deals with smart people all day can tell you, it's not always pleasant when people are smart.
glass half empty:
life is hard. it takes smarts to survive when you're on your own. think about that.
glass neither half empty, nor half full, but simply twice as big as it needs to be:
people are incredibly resourceful and capable. they are also inclined to share those resources and capabilities, provided either enough guilt, family obligation, or motivating pleasantry. well, you can tell the guilt-mongers to go pound sand, and you can repudiate your family, but i dare you to live your life in selfish denial of your happiness to help others who are kind to you. actually, i don't have to dare you, because, if you are or were anything like me, you've already found copious opportunity to fall short on that score. but you don't have to. i don't have to. nobody has to.
my team is the pleasant one. i know, the smart ones think they recognize my uniform, and, as ashamed as i am to admit it, i've played for them on more than enough occasion to confuse fans and players alike. but that's not me.
i'm for the underdog. i'm for the unlovable. i rooted for the patsies, and i still miss good ol' pat patriot on the sides of the helmets. if you give me a choice between joining the winning team, or throwing my hat in the ring on the side of the losing one, i'll take the disadvantaged side every single time. it's not smart. but they're the people who would need me and my efforts, and that's a very pleasant thing to realize.