Smug

I recently read some text online that struck me as “smug”. It was written by a “successful” woman, who makes her “success” well known to others, and who enjoys a comfortably affluent lifestyle. Not content to appreciate her good luck, that her efforts in life have been rewarded, she has enhanced her view of her “superiority” and “rightness” by commenting on how others would benefit from adopting her “correct” perspective on the world.

Her words stuck with me, and since she, and others like her, chose to comment on how others see the world, I will indulge myself and comment on how she sees the world.

smug:
self-righteously complacent; contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness

Smugness is something I strive to avoid. When things are going well for me, or my loved ones, I love it! If I have a talent or a strength, I unabashedly acknowledge it and enjoy it. But I don’t use these gifts as a platform for backhanded snipes at people who are not enjoying my good fortune or strengths. That, to me, denotes a failure of character, not a weakness, a failure.

“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” from To Kill A Mockingbird.

We are all tourists in other people’s lives, to my way of thinking. Some people are more difficult for me to understand than others. Smug people, evil people, mean people, petty people, self-righteous people… the list goes on. The thing is, I do not want to walk in their shoes, or to understand their point of view. I just don’t. They are not living in an inner world that I want to visit. All I can offer them is tolerance, until they seek to harm others. I don’t have much in the way of tolerance for those who send verbal, written, or strategic barbs out into the world, and I have no tolerance at all for people who seek to harm others.

As for the merely smug, when they send their barbs, backhanded or otherwise, out into the world, I feel they are offering a relatively benign form of judgement and intolerance. They can be ignored. The danger is in taking them seriously, accepting their parameters as having validity. Often these people have a veneer of legitimacy, because of what they have achieved. But that legitimacy does not represent rightness, or superiority, or correctness; particularly if you consider the state of the modern world. Hitler was a HUGE SUCCESS, but how many of us would look to him for compassion? Success is a highly overrated condition, subject to almost endless combinations and permutations. It certainly does not denote good character.

I dismiss the merely smug, as they dismiss those who are less fortunate than themselves.

I celebrate the lucky people who, when good fortune shines on them, enjoy and appreciate their good fortune, and demonstrate compassion, humility, and other forms of strong character, towards others in differing circumstances.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Little House in the City
-13°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Thursday 5 March 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -12.6°C
Dewpoint: -20.3°C
Humidity: 53%
Wind: NNW 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -19

Country House
-16°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Thursday 5 March 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -15.9°C
Dewpoint: -21.4°C
Humidity: 63%
Wind: NW 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -24

Quote

“Kinder the enemy who must malign us,
Than the smug friend who will define us.”
Anna Wickham
1883–1947

“There but for the grace of God go I.”
John Bradford
1510–1555

Unkind

We have at last arrived at the last of the winter, only four weeks of full-blown winter weather to manage! The first of March blew in cold through the night, and then warmed enough to deliver blowing wind and heavy snowfall. Attila spent part of his day shovelling snow off the roofs of the woodshed and the utility shed. This is the first time he has shovelled those roofs, and the snow is deep and high on them. They are being shovelled now in anticipation of warmer weather to come, bringing with it rain, which will weigh heavily as it soaks the snow; the weight could collapse the buildings. So off comes the winter’s snow load today!

To celebrate the first of March Attila prepared a turkey dinner, with all the trimmings. The vegetables are delicious, the last local farm grown squash, green beans, potatoes, and sweet potato.

Considering that I have spent weeks and weeks and weeks living in one room, remaining relatively inactive within the confines of this small space, my health is excellent. Attila noted that I had put on weight over the winter, but happily it is only five pounds, which will melt away when spring releases me from these four walls. My daily standing is helpful, as are the routine breaks I take from the computer and my chair. I am pleased with myself, for hanging on so well, through one of the worst winters on record.

I have finished my apron! Attila has the dining room table back just in time for the turkey dinner!

This morning Attila slept in until 8:00 am, a rare and happy event. Mist however, felt differently about things. She sat in front of the masonry heater, shooting meaningful looks my way. She paced in front of the masonry heater. It wasn’t really cold in the room, ranging from 14C at the perimeter to 19C near the masonry heater. Still, Mist had her mind made up, an immediate firing was required. Thinking to build the fire myself, I opened the masonry heater to a five inch thick bed of hot coals. The ash dump channel is blocked, and the ashes are accumulating in the firebox! I fetched the ash bucket and loaded it full with red hot coals, then put it downstairs by the little wood stove, then thought better of that, put on warm clothing, and carried it outside to sit in a snowbank. By the time I had accomplished all this Attila was up and about.

We decided that it was not practical to try to free the blockage in the ash dump while the heater is fully charged and hot, that will need to be done later in the season, when we can switch to using the little wood stove downstairs to keep us warm, and the masonry heater has cooled a bit. We have a few more nights of cold temperatures, heading down below -25C, and we will need full firings until this cold snap has run its course. Nothing for it now, but to remove the ashes manually every day! More work generated to make this cold, cold winter even more intrusive and challenging than it already is!

Maggie and Alison, good times and good company in the early 1990s.
Alison maggie 1992 web

I posted this photo on Facebook, taken in the early 90s, of myself and a friend Alison, Steve-Paul’s Mom, who was a truly wonderful human being. When on my timeline, an unkind comment was made, which took me by surprise; I am hoping the person who wrote that was trying to be funny. Then the photo was posted on another wall, where an inconsiderate comment was made about me, again this took me by surprise, in fact, the comment may have had malicious intent. My dear friend Steve-Paul responded with a funny quip that was in turn interpreted and responded to in an unkind way. The quip was withdrawn, as I know it was not meant to be unkind, or to invite further unkindness; only the interpretation was unkind, borne of a long-standing, and in my opinion undeserved, grudge against me. It is interesting how some people allow the pettiness in their personalities get the better of their mouths and fingers, allowing pettiness to represent them in public places. Sigh.

What do I think about being publicly disrespected? Well, it is not an easy thing to deal with, sitting alone with my thoughts, for weeks at a time in the bush, I can tell you. But really, I am not sure it would be pleasanter if I had to spend any of my time with the pettiness barons themselves. I am reminded of a passage I learned as a child, and it must have sunk into my unconscious, and influenced me ever since, as I considered it wise at the time: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” And that is exactly what I will do, forgive the trespass against me, and remember to respect the individual’s weaknesses in future.

As it is, today is sunny and milder, there is a warm fire burning brightly in the hearth, yesterday’s five inches of snow has been shovelled off the cars and driveway, and Attila is here to spend a pleasant day with me. Life is good.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-19°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Sunday 2 March 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -18.6°C
Dewpoint: -20.7°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: NNW 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -25

Quote

“Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”
Robert Service
1874 – 1958