Sunday, November 6, 2011

Today's fortune: November 6, 2011

Today's fortune: Avert misunderstanding by calm, poise and balance.

When people think "Calm, poise and balance," they think Matthew Joseph Kelsey.

I have to admit, I'm not very good at this. I've lost friendships over misunderstandings and disagreements. I used to be better at walking the tightrope of understanding and bridging the gap between warring parties. But as I grow old - and I am old - I am beginning to realize life is too short to spend time on mending fences that probably shouldn't be mended anyway.

First of all, a recent story that proved to myself once and for all that I am old. One week ago, on Monday night - Halloween - Jamie was in school and I was at home passing out candy and fortune cookies to trick-or-treaters and preparing to watch the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. By 7 p.m., the last of the tykes had come around begging for candy. And I began watching the pregame show.

The game didn't begin until 8 - a full hour away - and already, I couldn't keep my eyes open. An hour before kickoff! I realized I'm too old for Monday Night Football, which means I am officially an old man.

But when I was a young man, I worked tirelessly and often in vain to avert misunderstanding. When I first read today's fortune, one particular memory came to mind.

When I was in college, I had a very good friend. I would probably have called him my best friend at the time. He changed and influenced my life in many ways. He influenced me to go to church with him (a habit that didn't take), we spent countless hours laughing and joking, and he was even in my wedding.

The other thing we did, a lot, was argue. We called it "debate" at the time. My center-to-liberal leanings and his extreme extreme extreeeeeeeeme conservatism often put us on the opposite side of issues. The biggest issue we fought about was the media. I was a budding reporter at the time, and my friend was a loud and hateful media critic. He was convinced of a left-wing media conspiracy, and at the time I was a staunch defender of my colleagues in the press. We bumped heads over this issue repeatedly, and while he would never budge on any of his stances, this is the one issue on whic I would budge either.

A few years ago - after I was in his wedding - our friendship began to dwindle, and eventually all that was left was an e-mail dialogue. It was a long-running argument, really, the same old issues that we'd been fighting about for nearly a decade. Then one day I decided enough was enough. I cut him clean from my life. I stopped responding to his e-mails (in fact I re-routed them to the spam folder) and I made no efforts to contact him. I miss having him as a friend, but I certainly don't miss our arguments.

That friendship was toxic, and it's a blessing that it's out of my life. But I can take this fortune's advice, and despite my old age, I can and should do a better job of walking the tightrope to avoid misunderstanding. And just like everything else, practice makes perfect - my calm, poise and balance will continue to get better.