Or, I Complain Because I Care
Several hours before I wrote this note, one of my guests failed to show up to a recording of an interview for THE TONIC Talk Show. Some time after, an associate of hers called to apologize and explain that there was an “urgent family emergency”. I presume that I’m not aware of all the facts, but from what I heard I wouldn’t characterize the circumstances as urgent or an emergency (but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion). The fact is that the guest’s decision not to come not only delayed and inconvenienced me, but also one of my sponsors and my producer -all of whom have to come back to record a segment on short notice. The guest’s decision was unprofessional.
But this note isn’t really about the no-show. We all suffer setbacks, inconveniences, slights and bad behaviour from friends, co-workers, strangers or even family. The real issue is how we deal with it. When the guest’s associate eventually called to explain, my visceral reaction was frustrated anger, a feeling which “mindful and enlightened” Jamie attempted to suppress. I literally said “I’m struggling to be gracious….but”. And after some thought, and some edits in tone suggested by my wife, I wrote an email expressing my thoughts. This note is also, spoiler alert, part of the coping process.
After more than a decade of publishing a health and wellness magazine should I be disappointed by my lack of grace? Can I do better? Maybe and maybe. I hate when people say “I am who I am.” It’s true we all come with our character flaws, but right up until the moment we die we’re all also capable of growth. My inclination, which is both nature and nurture driven, is to complain. I respond when I think I’ve been wronged. I haven’t grown to the point where I can just let things go, or that I necessarily believe that it is preferable to let things go. I still have to do something, but I’m now capable of a) pausing to regulate my emotions, b) considering the circumstances (what is motivating others to act, what effect my reaction will have), and c) modifying my response accordingly. That’s progress, I suppose.
I’ve learned that it’s both frustrating and freeing to keep quiet in marginal situations: when you have to because the stakes are high, for example, when your boss has treated you poorly and to respond might mean your job; or when stakes are low - when you realize that reacting has no point, because that person isn’t capable of change or the relationship is beyond repair. The real opportunities for grace come in the spaces in between, when you care enough to complain...but don’t necessarily do so.
You should have no complaint about this issue of Tonic. There’s lots of great stuff to read. Joel Thuna and Claude Gallant have 10 hacks for a healthy kidney. Lisa Greenbaum has some stretches and poses for you if your hips are tight . Carlyle Jansen will tell you why sex over 60 is still pretty great and Rick Gillman will answer all of your recreational cannabis questions. As always, if you feel that I’ve crossed a line and you want to complain (after pausing to get a grip, considering my circumstances and carefully editing your comments) or if you want to comment on anything in this issue of Tonic, please feel free to reach out to me.