Keep Clam

I’m not big on touchy-feely stuff.  I’m an engineer by training and profession — and a wordsmith by avocation— so I usually prefer crisp, quantitative descriptions.  So you can guess that I’m not big on New Years Resolutions.  Hey! ——  It took a long time to get me to be this way, and the effort to change me — at this point — seems, well, pointless.

Still I know things can be different, and slight changes can make a big difference. The year 2012 began with the best of intentions.  2011 was filled with stressors, and one consequence of that was that I was not the best “me” I could be.  Joe did and said some things he regretted.  January 2013 would bring a new Joe.  A kinder, gentler Joe.  More aware of the needs, moods and desires of others.

Did I say I’m not big on New Years Resolutions?  Actually, I hate them.  February was awful (mostly at work, although we did have record snowfall), and March was worse.  The gate was left ajar and all the horses got out of the corral.  Really wild frigging horses.  With tempers and attitudes. Fail.

By mid-summer I had discovered the open gate, found most of the wild horses, lassoed them, guided them back to the corral, and closed the gate.  Still, I was the same edgy Joe.  That is to say, prone to saying and doing things he’d regret, if he ever got around to thinking about them.

It occurred to me (as an engineer, one supposes) that you cannot really improve on anything that you don’t measure.

How to measure being “kinder and gentler”?  Can you ask people?  No.  Can you get “in their moccasins” and get a sense of how they see you?   Is there a sort of biological calm-o-meter?  A kindness-o-meter?  For me: no.  As I said: I’m not into touchy-feely stuff.

How about measuring the opposite?  I reckoned curse words are a pretty good measure of how out-of-control and angry (the opposite of “clam and kind”) someone is.

2013.  Over three months into this thing and we’re seeing some success.  Simply by counting swear words.  (I made it to February without saying the f**k word).  I go days at a time with no profanity; there are certainly plenty of defensible opportunities to blurt them out.  I definitely “feel” calmer, and less prone to insensitive outbursts.

Still working on the kindness metric.  Just doesn’t feel right.  Guess I’m just a bada*s.

There was a famous folk-singer in the Seattle, WA area named Ivar Haglund who founded a chain of seafood stores.  As Ivar used to say:  “Keep Clam!”


Joe Girard (c) 2013


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