September 16, 2013

Embracing My Inner Curmudgeon While Kicking Her In The Teeth

It's no secret: I'm cynical, skeptical, and deeply suspicious of change. I'm like a grumpy old turtle with really thick glasses, peering at the world querulously and demanding to know who's the idiot knocking on my shell.

My default response to the doorbell or the phone is "what do you want now?", I'm unforgiving, impatient, and very impressed with myself

Except when I'm not.

I was going to write "the other half of the time I'm somethingsomethingsomething", except long years of curmudgeonly navel gazing has determined that that's patently absurd. It's not "the other half of the time". It's at the exact same time.

At the exact same time, I'm full to bursting with the will to forgive anything, to assume the best intentions, to see past moods and value people. I'm comfortable talking to strangers, and can wait patiently for my daughter to ask me something even though I already know the answer (and it is no).

At the exact same time, "I don't know" comes out of my mouth pretty easily, I can list every one of my many (legion, even) weaknesses of character in excruciating detail, and have a pretty easily quelled but existent nonetheless desire to hug everyone tightly and not let go for an uncomfortable amount of time.

My years of being a curmudgeon have set my face into grumpy lines. For years (1984-2008), my default facial expression was "pissed off" and now - even when I'm thinking about unicorns covered in Nutella - I look like I'm about to stab someone unless I make a conscious effort to make my face match my thoughts.

For a long time I thought that my I hate you/I love you attitude was sure proof of a mental disorder. Then I realized that people are messy, and I - believe it or not - am people. And therefore, messy.

I know that the me who loves people and forgives them their trespasses is winning. I also know that I can stop wringing my hands over being a curmudgeon. It's okay to dislike crowds, and disorganization, and stupidity. The world is broken. I'm broken. Fortunately, I'm not the one who as to figure out how to fix it or me.

My ideal me is still a curmudgeon, just a redeemed one.