Making Excuses – Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – but why not do it anyway?

We’ve recently had a formidable run of big decisions, big opportunities, and big mistakes.

Grumpy and I had a conversation that has been echoing around since we had it a few weeks ago went a little something like this:

Dee: “Okay, so basically, we’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t. No good deed goes unpunished and all that jazz.”

Grumpy: “WTF are you on about now?”

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Dee: “Well, I just connected countless examples of people who hate on us, or me, or you. That one guy from *insert donkey noise here* that we invited to that event and was rude and dismissive. He thinks we’re just cashed up hippies. This is despite the support we’ve extended to him and his cause. So in theory, we’re on the same team and fighting for the same things, but he sees us as evil.”

Grumpy: “Yes, and that’s an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Maybe he’s indoctrinated to think anyone who has financial freedom is evil, regardless of how they got it or what they are doing with it. And that’s a great illustration of why his cause stays on the back foot and alienates potential successful allies in the business and general community. So what’s your point?”

Dee: “What about *another donkey noise* who goes from thinking we’re great to the scum of the earth for goodness knows what reason. And don’t even get me started on *donkey noise*. I mean, sticking your neck so far out to try and help in good faith, and get kicked so squarely and painfully in the guts for it… How can they sleep at night?!”

Grumpy: “Mmmhmmm? First of all, *donkey noise* is someone that you don’t spend any time with because of their dramatics. Natural attrition. That’s life. Secondly, nobody in their right mind could have ever known just how dishonest and underhanded some people can be. So now we figure out a way to move forward, and you should probably stop saying I told you so. It doesn’t help.”

Dee: “True. Sorry. But I did tell you so. My point is, I think I can understand why people get jaded and insular and fed up with reaching out or trying to do the right thing or help anyone ever.

So why do we bother?”

Grumpy: “Bother with what exactly?”

Dee: “Trying to help. Picking up hitch-hikers, being painfully positive and smiling at or engaging with people who look sad wherever I go, helping complete strangers, keeping informed on current events here or half a planet away, buying organic food, attempting to be conscious consumers.  Any of it. It requires so much effort just giving a toss. Why did we bother building an off-grid house in the middle of the bush? The same investment would have gotten us a super sweet oceanfront property at some wanker-filled beach area anywhere in NZ. Why do we use EVs and attempt to educate people on them? We could have had a much nicer family car for far less than the Leaf cost us when we got it.  Why do we go out of our way to help with causes, events, or whatever when we’ve been screwed over in big and little ways over and over again?  Everyone has an agenda. One of my agendas is to try and do the right thing because it feels great, so I admit, most of the nice things I have ever done are completely selfishly motivated.  I like how it makes me feel.  And I egocentrically thought I was also making a difference. Having trouble feeling that way lately.  Maybe we should just sit back, feel entitled to our own success, and stop trying to do the right thing? We can focus on our own stuff for a while.  Let other people fight their battles and dig their holes. It often gets so messy when we try and help anyway.  I’d feel differently if I had any concrete evidence to prove that we’ve made a positive dent in the problems of the world with our efforts. But we’ve been yelling about the importance of caring and being engaged till we’re hoarse, and I haven’t seen a great deal of change because of any of it.  Besides, who’s to say any progress that may have happened has anything at all to do with us anyway.”

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Grumpy: “Yes, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Take a good look at the people who have screwed us over, either intentionally or otherwise. How are they doing in the grand scheme of things? Maybe okay for a little while, but dishonesty and/or stupidity catches up with people eventually. Just as our good and bad decisions catch up with us. And you are forgetting about all the awesome things that have happened as a result of cool things we’ve done. Not just for other people, but for you.  All that crap you said about just focusing on our needs, because nobody appreciates the things we do and nothing changes anyway. Well, what would happen if everyone decided that, and nobody helped anyone else or worked toward making the world a better, safer, cleaner place? There are people who use those rather weak arguments to be miserly and self serving and never lift a finger to make the world a better place.  If everyone were like that, we’d all be stuffed. Yes, people will smack talk. Yes, people will take advantage. Yes, picking causes and fighting for them means you’ll spend a lot of time feeling like you are working your ass off and getting nowhere. Throughout history, anyone who made a difference felt like they were getting nowhere at some point.”

Dee: “Way to make me feel like an A-grade jerk.”

Grumpy: “Don’t feel bad. Just stop being a spoiled little princess and count your blessings rather than focusing on your problems. We don’t have a lot of problems. But if you keep on focusing on the crap, you could create some.”

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Dee: “True. And I am a bit of a control freak. And just because things aren’t happening how and when I want them, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. I’m still tired though.”

Grumpy: “Understandable. You just recently squeezed out a baby.”

And that, was more or less, the conversation that led me to a distinct desire to stop making so many excuses.

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So what now?

I’m going to make a concerted effort to stop complaining, particularly about the same things over and over. Also going to try finishing things I start and not getting so distracted or downtrodden, because lets face it, nothing good comes from constant complaining. Making epic mistakes and learning from them tends to work out really well for the most part though.  Only if the “LEARNING FROM THEM” part is actually engaged of course. So more of that is on the cards now that I’ve taken time to reflect upon it all.

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Silver linings and opportunities are everywhere.  If you just stop making excuses and allow yourself to see them. We all have the choice to be champions or victims, depending on how we deal with what life throws at us.

There is a time to feel fed up and have a good long whine about how much some things suck. And then there is a time to regroup and take stock and realize, that maybe they aren’t actually that bad. So stop looking for or making excuses and get out there and do the things you could or should to support or advance your own or other people’s comfort, joy or circumstance. Most of us know instinctively if we are doing the right thing, and in the long run, it is worth it to follow that path. Even though mistakes are made and obstacles are hurled in your general direction. Play the long game and be a good person. It pays off in dividends.

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On the bright side: Grumpy is inches away from what I am confident will be a very successful business venture, that furthers our passion for alternative energy. He may not have followed through with the hundreds of hours of research and development if he didn’t have some very convincing internal and external motivations such as:

1)  Being totally passionate about the technology

2)  His passion for inventing and making cool stuff

3)  His (and my) belief in the importance of the alternative and clean energy movement in general

4)  We’re actually in a position where we need to increase our financial resources after being a bit too trusting and/or generous recently (I know, everyone thinks they “need” more money, but it is currently a motivating factor for us, and slightly embarrassing to admit, but very topical none-the-less)

I will stop faffing and focus on real and tangible ways of taking my optimistically conceived business plan to the next level. Fear, laziness, feeling hard done by, and basic or general difficulties have gotten in the way and held me back for quite a long time now. But success or failure on any level lies in my hands, as it does in yours and everyone else’s.  And I have every opportunity to follow my dreams with very few disadvantages.  So less complaining, more sustaining! 

So, off I go to face a variety of new challenges. I shall work very hard to make fewer excuses and wrap up my most recent pity party. 

I think a good long sleep would work wonders in helping curb future pity parties or flying off the handle as well.  

I’ll leave it there for today and go and try and sneak in a nap before the older three kids arrive home from school and daycare and need to be fed.

 


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