Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Don't Complain"

I have been meaning to follow-up with you guys about what I said a few weeks ago, "Don't Complain, Don't Explain." I learned this maxim from my friend Emily Stone and practicing the Don't Explain part has been particularly enlightening for me. When thinking about the Don't Complain component, I always think of Maya Angelou, who endured great hardships, but was committed to not complaining.

In her book of essays, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, she tells a story about her grandmother's opposition to complaining.  When a "whiner" entered her grandmother's store, she would make sure Maya heard their lamenting:

"As soon as the complainer was out of the store, my grandmother would call me to stand in front of her. And then she would say the same thing she had said at least a thousand times, it seemed to me. 'Sister, did you hear what Brother So-and-So or Sister Much to Do complained about? You heard that?' And I would nod. Mamma would continue, 'Sister there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining Sister. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.'
It is said that persons have few teachable moments in their lives. Mamma seemed to have caught me at each one I had between the age of three and thirteen. Whining is not only graceless, but it can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a victim is in the neighborhood."

In other words, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

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