Vail Daily column: We’re all doing the best we can
Vail, CO Colorado
Sammy ruined Christmas; I’m trying to forgive him.
For those of us who are childless and far from family, Christmas is a time to be with friends who fill the void of real relations. For all of us the day goes much the same – morning gift giving with significant others, some sort of recreation in afternoon, then a gathering in the evening for holiday camaraderie.
Sam is an old friend. Like many of us he came to the High Country when he was young and foolish, and like many of us – except for the young part – little has changed.
There were about five of the old vanguard that night, off in a corner, keeping warm around a whisky bottle and sharing stories of ghosts from Christmas past.
Also, in keeping with holiday tradition, we were bad mouthing absent associates.
On that particular evening, our old buddy Chico was our target.
Chico is not so much mean or malicious as he is clueless and careless. He does and says foolish things and has for the more than 30 years we’ve known him. Despite that, he can be good company and a good friend. But he is also the guy who will borrow your skis and return only one, use your bathroom and clog your plumbing, or ask your friend’s wife, who has gained a few pounds, if she is pregnant.
In addition, Chico subscribes to every whack job conspiracy right-wing philosophy – 9/11-inside job, Haitian earthquake-punishment from God, Obama-Muslim plant, and homosexuals are trying to recruit America’s children.
Chico no longer lives in the High Country, but he returns regularly to do and say foolish things.
We warmed up by reflecting on some of Chico’s former faux pas and graduated to some of his more recent hits.
It was great fun – until Sammy got all warm and fuzzy on us.
“I know all the Chico stories,” Sam said, “Heck I’ve told many of them but, after all these years, I think its time to cut him some slack – Chico is just doing the best that he can.”
It grew quiet around the whisky bottle. Only I had the courage to say what I assumed we all were thinking, so I shouted: “Everyone go home now – Sammy just ruined Christmas.”
In truth, Sam didn’t really ruin my Christmas but rather he gave me a goal for the New Year – remembering to try to be less judgmental and more forgiving because, in truth, we are all just doing the best we can.
I have few friends like Chico and many more quite unlike him. I sometimes wonder if any of us can take full credit or full blame for who we are and how we behave. Certainly you go down a dangerous path when you take accountability out of human equation, but I have found some people have an easier time being social, happy, productive and even compassionate than others.
Again, I’m not suggesting human behavior is not partly a choice but more that a happy person, who is predisposed to be kind has much less temptation to be a jerk than a person who is depressed either by nature or nurture. And I think it is safe to say there are many happy humans who have little reason to be happy and sad ones who have little reason to be gloomy.
We all know people who are fun, reliable, good company and a person you can count on, and we all know people like Chico. I would suggest it would be as hard for a normal person to be Chico as it would for Chico to be normal.
I guess I’m talking the concept of preordination as opposed to total free will. Are we as we are because of a combination of nature or nurture or can we break the mold and be whomever we want? And a bigger question is – does it matter?
There will always be people who tick us off and whose behavior and philosophies we don’t agree with. But will lending judgment and attention to them change the behavior? Wouldn’t that be nice?
But since complaining about a person does little to change them, at least by accepting them we get the same results with less energy. For instance, for 2011 my goal will be to have forgiven Sammy for ruining my holiday.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.