Settling? Don’t. Please.

Settle.

The word has so many meanings. It’s a noun. It’s a verb.

But it seems lately, it’s one of its many meanings that makes me unhappy. Unsettled.

Perhaps I’m only perceiving this as such, but it seems as though a couple people – one of whom is family to me – seem to be settling. Not settling down. But just making do. And it’s making me upset.

It also makes me ask the question: why do people settle? Why do they stop reaching for number one and just make do with whatever (or whomever) is placed before them?

I have a family member, whom I recently found is engaged. Great, except when I hear her future beloved described to me, it makes me scratch my head. Apparently this guy was a former drug addict, has a litany of health problems, has NO job and no sort of financial support coming in, and doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help himself. And she is taking care of him while barely keeping herself above water. They weren’t together when all of this happened, which would be understandable. He was in this state when they got together.

My aunt (my cousin’s mother) hates him, and of course, instead of finding a tactful way of broaching the subject, seemed to verbally attack it head on, driving a wedge between her and my cousin in the process.

From what other little bit I’ve heard, it doesn’t sound to me as if she’s head-over-heels. It almost seems as if, at times, she’s maybe talking herself into it. I don’t know. I brought it up with a friend recently, asking, “WHY is she settling?” (Although my friend astutely suggested that maybe the question is, “Why is she taking this on?”)

Another friend had been in a relationship where it seems to me that the guy never really treated her the way she should be treated. It took her a couple tries, but they’re no longer together. She still has the odd pangs, but I think she’s doing better. (“Think” is the operative word.)

I remember reading a discussion about the subject of settling online and putting my two cents in. Someone says that some people settle because of low self-esteem. I think another suggested that people like what’s comfortable.

Perhaps I’m still extremely naive and haven’t yet been beaten down by the world to understand where people like my cousin are coming from. Perhaps she is suffering the long-term effect of low self-esteem resulting from family who have told her, for whatever reason, that she couldn’t do things, or wouldn’t be good enough. Or maybe I’ve just been lucky to be in a relatively positive environment.

I just think it’s unbelieveably sad at how much easier it is to tell someone, “You’re not good enough” repeatedly enough to make them believe it, than it is to say, “You’re good enough” and “You can do it” enough to elicit just as much influence.

And I wonder if there can be any way to change or reverse this. It’s a momunental, likely impossible thought to answer.

But – and I don’t know where exactly this comes from … perhaps my upbringing … but you shouldn’t just put up with something just because it’s there. Maybe it would be okay for a little while, but after that, I would think that the heart would yearn for something more, something better. Perhaps I am settling in my daily life right now, and either don’t know it or won’t acknowledge it.

But also know that, deep inside, there’s still a voice … sometimes strong, sometimes faint … that tells me every so often, “Never settle.” Whether it’s in work, or wanting to find a place to live, love, whatever. I hear it. And when I hear updates about my cousin, that voice grows stronger, and more persistent.

And it’s what is driving me to not end up settling for less.

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Sweet Jesus…

So an art gallery in Manhattan had plans to exhibit this life-sized chocolate likeness of Jesus in the window of its art gallery for two hours each day during the Easter season, on Monday.

But guess what?

A Catholic organization – the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights – angrily boycotted the exhibit, called My Sweet Lord. According to a League press release, the artist had invited the public to visit the exhibit and take a bite out of the cocoa Saviour when the piece made its official debut at midnight on April 1.

And there also were plans in the works to boycott the hotel – which the Catholic League called “morally bankrupt” in a press release.

“The Roger Smith Hotel will rue the day it sought to declare war on Christian sensibilities”, said the press release published March 29.

In the end, the gallery scrapped the showing; the Catholic group dropped its planned boycott of the hotel, delighted they got what they wanted.

On top of that, the gallery’s artistic director, to protest the exhibit’s cancellation, has tendered his resignation.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinions and beliefs.

But just a sec. Is the offense here the fact that it’s a chocolate Jesus? Or the fact that it’s a naked chocolate Jesus? What if he had a little chocolate loincloth? Would the cries of indignation be as loud?

Or was it the fact that – if the press release reads true – the sculpture, on top of being naked and chocolate, was going to be possibly be eaten, mouthful by mouthful?

I can’t speak for the Son of God ever. But think about it: the holiest of men made out of (in my opinion) the holiest of foods?

If someone wanted to make a likeness of me out of chocolate, I wouldn’t stop them. I’d consider it the sincerest form of flattery.

I’m not sure about the whole anatomic correctness part … but a chocolate Loquacious D? A real one?

I’d probably eat my likeness if I saw it!

It could’ve been a lot worse. It could’ve been a Jesus made out of animal poop.

I’m just sayin’ .

A Scent-sitive Subject

As my mom and I were driving home this afternoon, I was listening to the radio and the host of the particular show on at the time, recalled a story she came across a bit earlier:

A woman in Calgary was kicked off a bus on Friday because the driver said he didn’t like her perfume.

The driver had apparently given her a warning the day before not to wear the perfume again or he wouldn’t let her ride. Nonetheless, she boarded the bus the next day, and – true to his word – the driver told her to get off.

His reason? He said the perfume interfered with his ability to focus and operate the bus.

The woman said she felt she was being unfairly singled out, just for trying to smell nice.

A city spokeman said the incident was being investigated, but it appeared the driver may have overstepped his bounds.

I’m not sure exactly what to make of this. But I guess my first question would be: exactly how much of the stuff was she wearing?

I’m not normally a perfume-wearer and nowadays for me, it’s a conscious decision not to, because so many people either have or have developed allergies to perfume.

Unless it’s maybe the most special of circumstances, I’d put a little on, and even then, it’d be only ever so slight.

But there are people out there who seem to bathe in the stuff – to the point where the scent might remain in the room minutes after the person wearing it has left.

I remember, working my first part-time job in high school, having to deal with a customer who made my eyes water because she was wearing so much perfume. At the time, I thought maybe something burning in the area was causing my eyes to water. I didn’t clue in until she’d left and my eyes stopped tearing.

I remember a co-worker telling me a few months back about a colleague of ours who’d been wearing enough perfume to cause another co-worker to cough and feel unwell because of it. And when she was told, instead of understanding the situation, she actually took offense, going so far as to say it was part of her identity, and why should she have to change?

Um, isn’t one’s identity comprised of things like, oh, personality? Intellect? Beliefs? Individual style? Smelly water can be a part of one’s identity? Not at the risk of someone’s health-related reaction, I don’t think.

Wanting NOT to smell like B.O. is not a crime in the least. Sure, who doesn’t want to smell so-fresh-and-so-clean?

But if people are having physical reactions to your fragrance and they have to tell you to dial it down a couple notches, they’re not doing it to be mean. It’s ’cause you’re wearing so much, you don’t even realize it! Or maybe you’re not wearing the right one suited to your physical chemistry.

I think wearing perfume is an exercise in subtlety. One should wear enough so that the slightest whiff causes a head or two to turn and wonder where that heavenly scent is coming from.

Your scent shouldn’t be causing people to pinch their noses and cover their faces.

What do you think?

Charisma: Dangerous?

cha·ris·ma (kuh-RIZ-muh). Noun.

1.Theology. a divinely conferred gift or power.

2. a spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.
3. the special virtue of an office, function, position, etc., that confers or is thought to confer on the person holding it an unusual ability for leadership, worthiness of veneration, or the like.

(Source: Dictionary.com)

I was completely exhausted when I hit the hairdresser’s chair on Saturday, as you might recall.

It was crazy. I was practically asleep the whole time while she did my hair.

But for some strange reason, I remember hearing her co-worker and friend – working on another head a few feet away – gabbing to someone on the phone. And when she got off, she was talking about this friend of hers, who I guess was a charmer. I don’t remember all the words being used to describe this fellow. But for some reason when I came out of my haze ever so briefly, the word “charisma” was tossed in the air.

And all I remember saying was, “Charisma can be a dangerous thing”, before slipping back into my nap-like state.

The others all had a good laugh about it.

Perhaps it was one of those nanosecond, subconscious declarations my intellect had, without me really thinking about what I was saying when I said it.

But now that I’m awake, it kind of has me thinking: charisma’s that one quality a lot of people are drawn to in a person, or other people. Except for perhaps the hardest of the heads, the most cynical of cynics, most people can’t completely resist a charmer.

If it’s used for good- no harm, no foul. That person is just a nice person who has the gift of attracting lots of people and captivating their attention.

But think about it: how many times have you read stories – in books, newspaper articles or magazines – about leaders of organizations or religious sects. Aren’t they sometimes referred to as “charismatic” leaders? The word sounds alluring, but the connotation in that context never really sounds positive.

I just did a search on the term. According to Wikipedia, the German political economist and sociologist Max Weber had a special term, called charismatic authority, which he defined as “resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him.” And he applied the term “charisma” to:

“a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader […] How the quality in question would be ultimately judged from an ethical, aesthetic, or other such point of view is naturally indifferent for the purpose of definition.”

I’ve not an expert or widely read on Max Weber, so I’m not going to pretend I am, or get into an even longer post about it. But, according to the list I found on Wikipedia, if his criteria were applied to leaders in history, examples of charismatic leaders would include people like Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Bill Clinton, or Lech Walesa.

So also on that list are people like Jim Jones, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein or Sukarno.

I’m sure the way I grouped these leaders, it’s up for debate how people feel about them. And that’s the other thing about charisma. Whether they’re still here, or maybe after they’ve departed, they probably still elicit strong feelings.

But make no mistake – charisma is definitely a quality that can be used as a powerful tool, or as a weapon, if placed in the wrong hands.

Servant of Time

It’s amazing how, as some of us get older, we – knowingly or unknowingly – fall subservient to the tick-tick-tick of the 24-hour clock.

I’ve realized this even more so lately, given the recent change in my schedule because of work, appointments, etc., how dependent I am on having to be at a certain place, doing a certain things by a certain time.

Take today, for example. I barely caught the bus near my house, which usually begins the long trek I make to work each day (albeit at different times). The bus doors, which just closed, opened for me, and breathlessly, I made a point of saying thanks to the bus driver, to convey my gratitude for letting me on, and not driving off as some tend to do.

The bus driver instead replied with an unnecessarily snarky, “Time to get a watch.” As much as I wanted to say something in response, I let it go and proceeded to find my seat.

My morning routine, which is a complete blur in my mind, consists of working out at the gym with my trainer, followed by showering, dressing, putting my big clunky boots and huge winter jacket, lumbering to work, unloading my things, inhaling breakfast in the nearby food court, and plunking my body at my desk in time for the start of my shift at work.

From then on, I spend the next eight and a half hours working with – or, as I see it, constantly fighting against – time.

For a huge chunk of my day, I wear a stopwatch around my neck. To time how long things are. Where things stop and where they start. I’m constantly watching the wall clocks to gauge how much time I have, or have left, to complete tasks.

All this leads up to our show, which airs in the evening. The last hour and a half to show time always feels like a quarter of its worth, and yet it never feels like it’s enough.

The show itself is 26 minutes long, with a four-minute commercial break. But the first 15 minutes of that show feel like three.

And before I know it, it’s all over. But time doesn’t seem to slow down until about 20 minutes after that. When it finally does, it’s time to make the trek home again … which takes about 90 minutes. And then when I get home, instead of getting right to the tasks I have to do before I go to bed, I dawdle – much like I’m doing right now – and I end up hitting the pillow way later than I should.

Just thinking about what my day is like should depress me, a lot. But it only gets me down a little, because at the moment, I have no choice. I think my commute has a lot to do with it, because I often wonder what life would be like if I had a little more time.

But perhaps time is, in a way, like money – that no matter how much I have, it will never be enough.

Where Do the Stupid People Go?

Call it bizarre, but I’ve had this question burning a hole in my grey matter the last couple days …

Okay, so if you believe – or were taught when you were a kid – that people “go somewhere” when they die, the common belief is (or was) that good people go to Heaven, Paradise, whatever … and bad, evil people go to Hell.

So where do the stupid people go?

No, seriously. I thought about this the other day, when news kept resurfacing of that woman in California who killed herself drinking too much water, to win a contest that was giving away a Nintendo Wii.

Think about it. She drank herself to death. For a machine. How stupid IS that?

I’m sorry if you think it’s mean-spirited or cruel of me to say so (which would probably mean I’ll be heading to hell when it’s my time) . But WHY would you DO that? NO piece of video game equipment – being offered for free, as a prize – is worth that.

And then there are things like the Darwin Awards, which document people who have killed themselves doing crazy things in the name of … who knows?

I can’t imagine the vast numbers of people who have died due to stupidity. Not due to an accident. Or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or getting what they deserved. Or dying unjustly. Because they did something without using ANY of their brain cells about what the end result might be.

And I can’t imagine, what these people are doing right now, wherever they may be.

I have to stop here. My head hurts right now from thinking about this.