Thoughts: The bags & baggage handling

The trick isn't the baggage - it's how you handle it.
The trick isn’t the baggage – it’s how you handle it.

It was just a year ago I was visiting with a friend of mine.

She was telling me about all the problems she was having with her boyfriend: He was terribly attached to his mother; he couldn’t finish certain tasks, ever; he always forgot the clothes in the dryer; he hasn’t gotten over his first girlfriend. “Damn,” she said, “he sure has a lot of baggage. I don’t know if we can make it. I just can’t handle it.”

She’s seventeen. Now.

Fast forward a week, and I’m having the same conversation with a head-shaking, confidence-shaken buddy of mine, who tells the same story. Substitute a father for a mother, clothes in a drawer, forgetfulness for mild disrespect…same plotline.

He’s forty-five.

Seems to me that there’s a key to managing this story. Because we all share this story, no matter how young/old, wise/inexperienced, smart/clueless, brave/scared, and the great range in between. And it begins with ditching the notion that life will finally be OK when we meet someone perfect, who doesn’t have any baggage.

Seems to me that’s not where the problem lies. But there is a two step map to happier days.

First, do what you have to do to be accepting of the baggage. Maybe he IS still anchored in memories from three relationships back, but is that balanced by other things? Maybe she picks her nose, but also picks up the kids after school. Maybe he forgets to feed the dog but remembers what you like after a long day at the office. Maybe she complains a bit more than you like, but don’t let that drown out the appreciation, when it comes.

The second step is that successful baggage-handling has to be a two-person team project. Finding the words & the time & the love & the togetherness to visit about the “baggage”… it gives you a chance to handle it together. Treat it like baggage, with agreements about where it goes. Like any old bag: Leave it at the thrift shop. Put it in the storage locker. Agree to talk about it in private but not in public. Maybe even agree to  let the other carry it every day, after you both sort out that it’s not gonna just disappear. Agreeing that there’s something that’s bugging you is tons better than wishing it would all go away.

And it’s a chance to show the world that your love & ability to love & the confidence you place in your love is bigger than some random bit of baggage.

So do it.

Another angle: Worldview, with Steven Wright, from the second mouse

Steven Wright
Steven Wright

If you haven’t met Canadian comic & philosopher Steven Wright, it’s about time you did. To make it easy, here’s a primer on the way he sees things, in his words:

All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.

OK, so what’s the speed of dark?

How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

Support bacteria – they’re the only culture some people have.

When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy. Read more “Another angle: Worldview, with Steven Wright, from the second mouse”

Still endangered? NOAA reviews what’s next for humpbacks…

Numbers of humpbacks may have increased enough to pull them from the US federal off western Maui in February by Ian Byington.
Numbers of humpbacks may have increased enough to pull them from the US federal protections….photo off western Maui in February by Ian Byington.

My friends at Whale Trust in Maui tell me that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is set to review whether humpbacks will remain protected as an endangered species, or whether their status would be downgraded to “threatened.”

The issue includes checking to see if the North Pacific humpback should be considered as a separate species, as well.

Here’s more from  Alaska Public Media.

East meets west: Which is the best set of expectations with which to surround our kids?

What role does culture play in school performance?
What role does culture play in school performance?

As we get the school year gets underway in Canada & in the USA, we’ll look at school supplies, books, curriculum, and more as the kids get ready to get back to their classrooms, as well as the great questions: Who did my child get for math? What’s for lunch today? And…you’re wearing that?

Perhaps even deeper is the underlying set of assumptions each kid carries with her, suitcased into her brain from the culture that packs her off to school – the one that leads some kids to drop a math problem after 30 seconds & others to attack the same problem for over an hour.

What’s at play here? Here’s a good nine-minute place to start.

For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in school children is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated, it is often used to measure emotional strength.

Let me know what you think after you get a chance to check this out:

(Listen here – This piece initially aired on Nov. 12, 2012 on Morning Edition.)