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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

The Last Word

The Story of M(e) — (April 2005) Before I start this, a small disclaimer: This is long. This is personal. These are my feelings.

So. Since about December 2004, I've been making some personal changes. Changes in how I live my life and how I want my life to be lived. It has sometimes been a little difficult to properly describe the reasoning behind my actions, but I recently came across something which managed to put into words what I was having trouble with. Excerpt taken from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff with Your Family" by Richard Carlson: Chapter 25 - Keep Good Company.

"Most people acknowledge the fact that we are affected positively and negatively by the people we spend the most time around. Kids... by their parents... spouses by one another... siblings... and vice versa. We are also affected by the people we work with ... friends... neighbors. There are times, of course, when we have little or no control over who we spend time with - at work, for example. In these instances... we simply have to make the best of it... true with certain family members. There are other times, however, when we have absolute control over who we spend our time with. For example, our friends and people we invite into our home and talk with on the telephone.

Your time and energy are among your most precious and important assets. Therefore it's extremely important to make wise and well-thought-out choices about who you spend your time with. Do you spend time with people who are truly nourishing to you (and your family), or do you choose your company much more randomly? If you're honest, you might be surprised by your answer. Perhaps you are friends with people without really knowing why - or out of laziness, perceived convenience, or simply habit. I'm not suggesting that you necessarily break off your friendships and form new ones. Nor am I suggesting that all friendships based on tradition, obligation, or past experience are bad or wrong. I'm simply encouraging you to reevaluate and take an honest look at how you feel when you are with someone, and shortly thereafter. Is the person you are with helping you to grow? Is he or she a person you admire and respect? Do you nourish one another? Do you share similar values? Do you feel good about the way you have spent your time in person or on the phone? If not, it doesn't mean you can't still be friends, only that you might want to make the decision to spend less time with that person, which will create the time and space to meet new people or to spend more time alone."

He goes on to discuss how his suggestion has nothing to do with making judgements about others, just that if there ARE folks you'd rather not spend so much time with, that doesn't mean you don't respect them or think they're great or that you're better than them. "It simply means that, all things considered, you'd rather spend your available time either by yourself or with someone else." For me, that was part of the clincher. That and, "Keep in mind that each of us has only a certain amount of time to spend with other people, probably far less than we would like."

In summary, what I decided to enforce a few months back was one of my earlier credos. Those of you who know me from at least 10 years back might remember my "Life's too short..." credos. The one I'm referring to is: "Life's too short to be spent wasting it on negativity". Thus, what I've been doing has simply been surrounding myself with positive energy. See, I'm not so stuck-up that I don't believe I have my negative moments. But, truth be told, when you're surrounded by constant negativity all around, it's tough to break out. I'm an Action Guy. If bad shit is going down, and I realize it, I do something to change it. I'm sorry, but after having "wasted" close to 7 years in a marriage I realized too early was doomed but then took too long to do something about it, I'm not about to let that kind of shit go on. Had I had the balls to do something about that earlier on, I might have saved myself a lot of headaches. Thus, when I emerged from that cocoon, it was with more power and strength than I ever had. Look at my life today and you'll see how much GREATER it is than it ever was. All this from being a DO-er instead of a complainer. I want and will live my life in a positive manner. The same is true about my work life. Too often folks get stuck in a rut and basically rot. I say, when the rot's set in, get the paint and varnish out and build yourself a new one.

Life is life. Full of ups and downs. We all have them. Sharing the downs makes them easier to deal with. But, if ALL you do is share your downs, and thus perpetuate MORE downs, then all you have are downs. I don't want to live my life basically going from one misery to the next. I want to share my bad days as well as my good days. And as I share them, I know I'm gaining support and strength to change those bad days into good days. The same for my friends. I'll be here to support any and all who are friends. But if all you want from me is for me to hold you up, I'm sorry, but my arms get tired, too.

A couple of years back, I was hit by a ton of bricks when I realized a friend of mine whom I had been attempting to help out from a really rough spot would constantly ping-pong between life and death. Life was so shitty they were ready for suicide. On and on, back and forth. Work, money, life, marriage, kids, etc. I met with them, spent hours on them, helping them to their feet, and then felt completely drained. One morning after listening to yet another "heart-breaking" voice message, I realized that whatever the fuck they did, if suicide finally came for them, I would not have been to blame as I did all I could. This allowed me to do two things: 1-release blame, and 2-distance myself during our conversations to be able to speak unemotionally. This meant my answers were more direct with no pussy-footing around. Guess what? They're still alive and last Fall were still complaining about work, money, marriage, kids, etc. Second realization: hopeless. Sure, there were at least two times when I went crying on their shoulders for support. But after about 100 times from them, I was and am wiped and can no longer continue. Thus, that chapter is closed. If they happen to catch me on the phone, I will speak with them for a short time. But, the minute one more piece of "doom" comes from their mouth, they only get a "sorry to hear it, gotta go now".

Is it selfish to want to be around folks who are not only human, but ACTIVELY human? In other words, not those who rail against the unfairness of their lives, but actively do something about it? Yes, perhaps it is. But you know what? It's my life and I just don't see the point in having to waste all my time and energy with people who can't hold a positive thought in their head. "Energy Vampires" quoted The Alien Sex Fiend (as well as many others since). They take sustenance from draining me and I refuse to let myself be their victim any more. And the main point is this: I'm not attempting to negate anyone, just limit my time. The less time I'm online, the more time I have to write. The less time I spend being dragged down into the gutters, the less time I have to waste trying to raise my energy levels. Feel free to complain to me, I'll do my best to cheer you up. But if that's all you're willing to do, then it must simply mean that you love being in misery. The more you wallow in misery, the more misery will surround you.

I've always known I had patience. One friend wrote: "you're probably the most positive, enthusiastic person I know, always willing to go the extra mile, to share the credit, to make the effort." Another said: "You're one of the most understanding and patient persons that I know." But, after all these years, it does turn out that I also have limits. This stems from people, and from the world at large.

It's my life. I'm in control of it. And this is how I choose to live it. And this positive-action living is what I try to instill in my children as well. Don't just complain about your life, do something about it. Otherwise you're just wasting time, energy, and air.

"Don't Just Dream It... Be It" - The Rocky Horror Picture Show

(The Last Word (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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