Turning a surly attitude around

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Posted 8/21/18 (Tue)

Passing Dreams
By Steve Andrist

There was a TEDx presentation last week that really resonated.
The speaker talked about attitude as a critical component of a happy and healthy life.
You know, that glass half full approach leading to better a better life than the glass half empty.
It reminded me of a time in my life when I tried to turn a common small talk phrase into something meaningful.
“How are you doing today?” people often say as a substitute for “How about this weather?”
My answer was an intentional, “Geez, I’m at the top of the world!”
And as their surprise morphed into a bit of a smile, I’d follow up, “And there’s plenty of room up here if you want to join me.”
It made me feel better, and usually my greeter, too. So when this TEDx speaker talked, among many other things, about attitude, I resolved it’s time for me to get a more positive one.
First, though, I realized I was in the midst of one of those weeks where a guy’s gotta be surly. That’s just the way life is. Sometimes there’s no escaping the need to hang your smile at the door and be plain old crotchety.
That’s how last week started, with a reminder of one of my dad’s many gems of life philosophy – the only one I can recall that wasn’t akin to the glass being half full.
“Anyone who’s got a dog deserves one!”
That little twitch at the corner of his mouth betrayed that he was trying to be more funny than factual, but the point was clear. He wasn’t a dog person.
The reminder of this homespun philosophy came when my life caretaker learned our youngest son and his betrothed were about to embark on two weeks R & R with their two little yappers.
“Are you sure you want Bella and Loki to spend all that windshield time with you?” she queried.
“We can take care of them for you while you’re gone.”
No, “you” can take of them, said the guy with the positive attitude suddenly turned surly.
There was a chance, he thought hopefully, that they wouldn’t take her up on the offer.
Turns out that chance was a fat one, and before you could say “poop bag” the yappers were at our front door.
Thus began our 10 days of babysitting the granddogs.
Ten days of the alarm ringing at 2:30 every morning because Loki is still too young to make it through the night.
Ten days of trying to purge their mouths of foreign objects that weren’t, by any stretch of the imagination, food.
Ten days of finding surprises on the carpet, blankets in the middle of the floor, protecting your bowl of popcorn from panting invaders, washing doggy drool off your face, tripping over the jumping, nipping, attention-demanding, excitable committee of two that greets you every time you re-enter the house.
Sunday, finally, they went home to Grand Forks.
Monday, there were no eager greeters offering love and attention when I arrived home from work. The house was eerily quiet, with no partners for an unwinding game of fetch the squeaky doll. No one to snuggle under the blanket while you doze during a Twins game on TV.
OK. I still don’t want a dog. But I guess it would be OK if they come for another visit.
Any time.

Politicization
One of the regrettable effects of polarization in our country is the politicization of the selection of justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
True enough, the process has always been colored by an element of politics, but these days it’s much more overt.
From the minute President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, there were two sides. For and against.
Never mind that the senators charged with deciding on his confirmation hadn’t even had a chance to meet with or hold hearings on the nominee. Prior to any of that vetting the special interest fors and againsts were lobbying hard for their point of view and even using mass media and social media advertising to pressure senators to vote their way. In this case, North Dakota’s Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has got it right.
While getting pressure from the right to commit to supporting Kavanaugh and from the left to commit to opposing him, Heitkamp took a timeout.
Instead of caving to political pressure from either side, and despite being in a heated re-election campaign, she said step one was meeting with Kavanaugh to assess his judicial temperament, understand his views on precedent and constitutional law, and more.
She did that last week, and when the wolves once again wanted her commitment, she took another pause. Senate confirmation hearings in September will be the true job interview, she said, and she’ll decide then.
Those who want her to do otherwise choose politics over established process. Choosing that path turns the entire confirmation process into a sham.