by Mary Boren

In observance of the annual Season for Nonviolence (January 30 – April 4) celebrating the philosophies and lives of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., I accepted Rev. Gary’s Sunday morning challenge to give up complaining for 21 days. (acomplaintfreeworld.com) This entails wearing a purple bracelet on one wrist and switching it to the other every time we complain out loud. Sounds easy enough, huh? I can think it, but I just can’t say it, and ideally within a few days a complaint-free habit will be so well established that I don’t even think it.

My bracelet switched places twice on the 30-mile drive home from church.

Other than the backseat driving and miscommunications engendered by my dearly beloved’s refusal to wear his hearing aids, I really have no legitimate cause for complaint at home. He’s a gentle soul, I love our peaceful life in the boonies, and have the sweetest neighbor in the world, so by Tuesday morning I’m thinking this is a piece of cake.

Then I went out in public.

Waiting in the bank teller line, before I could even consciously process the thought it was out of my mouth: “Wouldn’t you think they’d take care of customers at the counter before the drive-in?” The irony was that the gentleman in front of me that I was speaking to didn’t understand English, so that was a grumble entirely wasted.

Oops, starting over for the third time, a mere 72 hours day since accepting the challenge. I’m told there is no shame in Day One, and it has taken up to a year for some of the 11 million successful completions of 21-day-cycle to occur. Here I sit on Thursday morning, patting myself on the back for patiently having blood drawn on Wednesday by a nurse who had to stick me three times to find the sweet spot, filled with gratitude for an evening that couldn’t help but keep my blessings in perspective. If anyone thinks they can’t get through a day without complaining, try volunteering for a few hours at a crowded homeless shelter.

I wrote this poem in 2015 after hearing a sermon at another church entitled “Why Not?” Or was it …

Whine Not

Preparing for the journey, travel light.
Bring only what is needed for the day:
the music and its laughter at the height
of harmony with friends along the way.
Don’t take your troubles into town.
Whine not.

The baggage that is carried from the past
creates a stumbling block upon the road
as memories of hurtful things can blast
a heart to smithereens beneath the load.
Release your grudges, lay them down.
Whine not.

Tomorrow lies in wait, a subtle trap
that’s set to rob the present of its glow.
Entrust the future to the fates and lap
the nectar of The Now’s unending flow
above, below and all around.
Whine not.

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