Loyal to a Fault

I give up. Just a little bit.

My personality doesn’t allow me to let things go easily. I want to win. Watching people or opportunities slip away feels bad and I work hard to keep that from reoccurring. I’m not the type of person to quit what he starts. However, with age comes experience. I’ve learned that holding on is not always the best strategy.

No rule exists saying I have to finish everything I start. But how much time should I give something before giving up? I flip though the radio channels in my car and if I am not impressed with the music I hear within the first few seconds of listening I will then turn off the radio. I flip through the channels on my television and if the TV shows don’t hook me in within the first few seconds of watching I then turn off the television. Same thing goes for looking at videos on YouTube or reading newspaper articles. If I let every piece of media grab and hold my attention, then there won’t be any time left for myself.

People deserve to be treated with more respect than a piece of media. I wouldn’t drop all contact with a person just because I became bored with them. And I wouldn’t stop being a friend to someone just because they annoyed me. A bond with me is not easily broken. No matter the difficulty, I persevere. So when is the best time to stop being a friend to someone?

I have been in social situations I should have walked away from. Not everything works out and I failed to see the signs of failure. Someone like me who is desperate for connection will often overlook the fact some of his friends are not really friends at all. Hope kept me from leaving. Truth set me free.

Loyalty is only valuable to those who give it. I have been a good friend to many only to receive neglect and scorn in return. True friends are those who remain loyal to each other. If someone does not value the loyalty I give them, then there is not much I can do at that point. I have to let some people go now and then. But I won’t give up on the future. I am loyal to the friends I have yet to meet.

Sorry in Advance

I have a lot of apologies to make. Especially in the future. That’s where the majority of my mistakes or going to be made.

Apologies are part of the human experience. Feelings get hurt and they need to be mended. The nature of our relationship with a person is affected when they make us sad or angry. An apology can correct a lot of wrong when a person shows they are willing to admit fault for their actions or carelessness. Feeling bad about what we did helps others to feel better.

Why do so many people insist on never apologizing? They seek justification for their actions rather than forgiveness. It is impossible to go through life without causing some damage to our surroundings. People are going to get hurt by us. To not care about how our actions affect others is allowing the pain to go in just one direction. The only way to lift someone’s burden is to carry some of the weight.

I hate how the word sorry is abused so frequently. People treat it like a magic word you are supposed to say when you get caught that shuts people up when they are upset. I once got hurt on a playground at school because of another kid’s carelessness. He said sorry over and over again like a mantra. He was hoping I wouldn’t tell the teachers on him. He cared more about not getting into trouble than he did the fact I was bleeding.

I strive to be forgiving of all people, but that doesn’t mean I accept every apology offered to me. Forgiveness doesn’t mean I have to ignore the fact that people are capable of hurting me. An apology is meant to regain trust. I can’t trust those whom I feel are going to make the same mistakes over and over again. Are we truly sorry if we continue to hurt others? Apologies are meaningless if there is no change in behavior and no desire to make restitution.

Not everyone accepts my apologies. They would prefer to stay mad at me than forgive. Sometimes people say they accept my apology but they still hold onto my mistakes as evidence against me. In these cases, the feelings are not mended. Not much you can do at that point. One sincere apology can be all it takes to keep a relationship alive. It is a shame not everyone is willing to take away the pain.

Name Me

What’s my name? Joseph. My name is Joseph.

I was given the name Joseph in honor of a great man. Don’t call me Joe if you don’t like being corrected. Names only have meaning after we take time to honor them. I think I’m worth both syllables in the name Joseph.

The giving of a name is a significant moment in any circumstance. Someone has to come up with all these names we give to people, places, and things. Names should be given with thought and consideration.

The best way to avoid lame names is to plan out all the names you would consider using in the future. Here are some names you should plan for.

Stage name

Not everyone who gets to be a performer has a cool sounding moniker. Executives are less likely to put your name on a poster if you’re name happens to be Rusty Bucket. Plenty of actors, music artists, and pro-wrestlers choose a stage name that reflects how interesting they are. These names range from simple ones to random words found in the dictionary. John Wayne went with something simple. Meatloaf went with an entrée. If I had to choose a stage name I would go with Lance Phoenix. Nobody would question my masculinity with an alias like that.

Pen name

Sometimes you want to put your work out into the world without having to worry about reputation. Pen names allow you to shift the credit elsewhere. This allows written material to be judged on its own merits and not by the expectations placed on its writer. A good piece of writing shouldn’t be condemned because we happen to know who the author is. Also, we have the right to distance ourselves from a project we feel doesn’t reflect our original vision. Many an Alan Smithee would agree with me. I’m not going to go with a pen name for my works because I want people to know me, but if the need for one arises I could always use Will Wright. Least suspicious name I could think of.

User name

A lot of competition exists for getting the user name you want. No two people can share a user name on the same website. Think of them as serial numbers for people. Another Joseph Meldrum already existed on Twitter and YouTube when I began my social media journey. I had to go with something different. The name I chose for YouTube is Reticent Man. It’s meant to reflect how I don’t write online unless I feel it is worth typing. I wanted to use the same user name on Twitter, but it looks like someone else already thought of Reticent Man. Future generations are going to have a hard time getting the user names they want when we are using up all the clever ones.

Pet name

Names aren’t just for identification. They’re for fun, as well. Not everyone likes pet names, but for those of us who actually enjoy having fun it is a treat. I have already taken thought to all the pet names I don’t like being called. My future wife will not call me honey. I don’t know why, but I have something against being called after the substance that bees regurgitate. In fact, I don’t like being compared to anything animal related. In the other direction, my wife will be worshiped with well thought out pet names. A goddess such as her deserves the best. She’s not my kitty cat or my little muffin. She’s my queen.

Code name

Our welfare often hinges on keeping our identities secret. Speaking in code is necessary even in civilian life. Names need protection just as much as anything else. A code name gives the world something to say while your name is kept safely anonymous. Make your code name enigmatic and mysterious so as to draw focus away from what you are trying to protect. Agent X can’t do his job if he has to worry about people exploiting his secret identity. I could tell you my code name, but that’s a secret.

Superhero name

With great power comes great responsibility to pick a great name. A superhero name says something about the person and embodies who they are. It lets people know what the hero’s cause is or what the hero can do. Most people know me as mild mannered Joseph Meldrum. However, I am also known as Middle Man. I was born as a middle child in the mid-eighties to a middle class family in the middle of nowhere. One fateful day in the middle of September in my mid-thirties I had a mid-life crisis and it gave me the power to come between criminals and their objectives. No evil-doer can thrive when I get in the middle of things. Fear my name, villains, for I am the beginning of your end.

Title

We are born with a name. Some we inherit. Others we are gifted. But it doesn’t end there. Life continues to give us names as we journey to discover who we are. They are badges of honor people give us. I wish to be Joseph the Great. The only way people will call me that is if I live according to the name I hope to be worthy of. In the meantime, I think Joseph is a pretty great name.

A Listening Ear

No complaints here. That’s the problem.

I hear people complain about complaining all the time. They get upset over the fact that someone is upset. I see no logic to this. No one goes through life without getting miffed. The ability to constructively express your dissatisfaction with the world around you is a talent. How can we expect to improve our circumstances if we do not speak out about what is bothering us? How do we improve ourselves if we fail to listen to other people’s complaints?

Many things get in the way of effective complaining. Here are a few.

  1. Amateurs

Communication is a science and an art. Not everyone is skilled in it. We begin our lives as crying children trying to let someone know we need help. As adults we are forced to be more sophisticated in our pleas. A man I encountered at a restaurant said, “Give me ten bucks.” I just walked away. If you’re going to demand my money, then you need to do a better job of convincing me why I should part with it. All of us need help. Figure out how to ask for it with respect.

  1. Noise

We can’t complete all tasks at once. Something has to take priority. Complaining all the time makes it difficult to focus on what is really important. It is harder to ignore one plea for help than a thousand different ones. I only vent my frustrations when I have thoroughly thought out what is bothering me. No one can help me if I don’t fully understand the problem myself. I choose my battles so I don’t end up fighting a needless war.

  1. Fear

People look at you differently when you share your frustrations. You can be labeled a whiner, a crybaby, or a loser for complaining about what ails you. I kept a lot of pain to myself growing up because the people I was surrounded with would criticize, condemn, or mock me. They found me in a moment of vulnerability and went on the attack. My turning to others for help was seen as weakness. Still, today, it isn’t easy to share my opinions to any degree.

Relief

Complaining is power and power alone is neither good nor evil. It is the abuse of that power which creates trouble. Complaining is what we do when we have no real power of our own. If we had the power to solve our problems, then wouldn’t we do that instead of just talking about them? At the same time, complaining brings people together. When people can agree about their frustrations they form groups united in a common cause. Many injustices have been corrected because of those unafraid to point out what is wrong with the world.

The world doesn’t magically get better with time. It improves because someone decides to make a difference. If we take the time to listen, then we have taken one small step in making things better.

Mad Hatters

Clothes don’t make the man. His hat does.

Work seems to be the word of the day around here lately. I’ve been trying hard to put my college degree to good use with only small success. A few people gave me some good advice recently on how to build my resume. I’m sure opportunities will come along in time.

People often ask me, “What do you do?” I do lots of things. People should be more specific. What they are really asking about is what work I engage in during the day. I’m not sure why this is the first thing people ask when getting to know me. Is my job a defining characteristic of my identity?

I’ve worn many hats in my time. Which of my talents should be the one to define who I am as a person? I used to deliver newspapers to people early in the morning. Joseph the early morning paper boy! And I have worked many years in various warehouses. Joseph the wary warehouse worker! And I guess I could choose to be recognized for my recent writing efforts. Joseph the literary legend!

A person is more than their abilities. How I make money does not say anything about who I am as an individual. I wish people would show more interest in the person than in the minor details. Why should people be interested in how I get my food and clothes? I am way more interesting than that.

When you first meet someone you are meeting them at one point in time. I will not always have the job I am currently at. Considering the worth of a soul at only one point in their life is cutting them short.

When I meet people I start by asking them, “What do you like?” It’s another way of asking what resonates with them. A person’s interests say more about them than what their current job is. Anyone can work at something. It takes effort to care about something.

My friends are people who share many interests with me. We all work at different jobs, but we are connected by what resonates with all of us. My love for storytelling has gained me many good friends. My hope is that people will begin to know each other by what is in their hearts and not by the hat they wear.

Gingerbread Men

When the going gets tough, the soft get running.

I recognize each of us has different levels of ability, but it is not wrong to expect a minimum amount of courage when facing life’s trials. Everyone needs enough bravery to at least get out of bed in the morning. And people certainly shouldn’t be afraid to talk to other people. We can’t function in society when we are governed by irrational fears.

On the other hand, knowing when to run from dangerous situations is part of survival. We take a risk when getting close to people. They could learn our weaknesses and exploit them. And becoming attached means it hurts when they part from us. Honestly, I don’t know how much optimism or pessimism I am supposed to have. Either choice presents risk.

Hope keeps me going. It’s more than just being positive. Not every positive person looks forward with hope. And a negative person can still be filled with hope. Hope means you can keep your eye on the prize on the good days as well as the bad days. It keeps me treating people with respect no matter what I am feeling.

I’ve met many good men and women who don’t possess hope. They give up on people at the slightest provocation. They would come to me, tell me I’m a friend, and then leave without saying goodbye. I’ve endured so much heartache because of people who run. I’m not their enemy, yet they run. I still love them, but they are gone.

Still I hope. So many people to meet along my journey. How can I give up on any one of them while I’m on my way to meet many more? I hope to one day encounter those who are running in my direction hoping to stay next to me.

Fresh Out of Focus

I was trying to write a blog post about focusing our attention, but I got distracted.

I was originally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder as a child before receiving the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome in my adulthood. Each generation has its own term for “different” and I happened to be born in the 1980s. The doctors must have learned about my daydreaming and decided that means I can’t pay attention. Still, I can honestly say being able to focus doesn’t come as easily for me as I think it should.

When you drive at 60 mph you can’t take time to observe every detail along the way. Something has to take priority. Ninety-nine percent of what you focus on is mostly the direction you are driving toward while the rest includes occasional glances at your mirrors, speedometer, and fuel gauge. If you focused more on what your odometer looks like during your drive, you’d probably end up in a crash.

I feel focus is not so much about prioritizing our attention so much as it is selecting what we wish to ignore. Any random thing can grab our attention in an instant without any formalities. A focused mind simply knows how to cut away the useless stuff.

My personality wants to find value in all things. It’s hard to focus on one thing when all things interest me. It’s hard to focus on one friend when all of them are on my mind at once. A person I am with could be speaking and my mind focuses on what they are saying while at the same time what they are not saying. My mind knows no rest.

I could go on, but I’m having trouble focusing today. I hope none of you are having as much trouble as I am.