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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Be Grateful You Have a Steak

This was what I was thinking while eating at a restaurant today with the family. It's a Sunday tradition of ours to go out once every two weeks or so and eat in town. Some days it's regular old fast food (Wendy's, Arby's, Sonic's) while others we get to upscale things a bit; today we ate at Logan's. It was a nice treat and it had a decent menu for the healthy inclined like myself, so I was happy.

But the guy behind our table? He wasn't. You see, he ordered a steak medium rare and instead it came out medium well. He was rather displeased, demanded a new order (which he got), and upon completion of his meal talked at length with the manager about the difference between the steak he wanted and the steak he got. Now, he did this all in the "pretend nice" voice that we all have. You know what I'm talking about; where we're rather displeased at something but we're faking the nice so as not to look like complete jerks.

The entire time this is going on I can't help but think that he should be grateful he has a steak in the first place. Hear me out; I know it's New Years and it's a time for resolutions, promises, refection, ect, but I woke up this New Year in a rather poor mood. People were celebrating the new year well into the early morning nearby my house and I couldn't fall asleep for the life of me. I barely made it through church service and by the time we got into town, my mental functions were falling off a cliff; I was going to go to bed as soon as I got home (which I did-great nap).

So I was tired, cranky, and rather uninspired for any New Years celebration. Which is why when this guy started complaining about his steak, I wanted to get out of my chair and slap him across the face. Seriously, dude, be grateful you have a steak. There are a lot of people around the world and in our own country that haven't ever had a steak, much less one not cooked to your specifications. I was getting pretty riled up over it and as soon as the dude left, I launched into a full out rant for a solid ten minutes.

Now, anyone that knows me knows to pretty much ignore my rants; you can enjoy it because it's often entertaining, but usually it's just me venting. In this case, I was indeed doing that; I was tired, I was cranky, and I wanted to sleep.

The full weight of the thought didn't hit me till after I got home, napped, and woke up. You see, we should all be grateful for the steaks we have in our lives. I don't mean literal steaks (as much as I like them) but the stuff we complain about that we really have no right complaining about.

Let's take my car for example. It's over 17 years old, only half it's power windows work, the paint job on it is degrading, the AC/Heat works when it wants to, and it's a bit of a gas hog. I have friends who have brand new cars or newer cars that complain about them; not so much what the car is doing wrong but rather what the car doesn't have. "Well, it has no bluetooth" or "It only gets 23 miles to the gallon" or "I wish it had more seats" and more.

Listen, I'll be the first to tell you about the various flaws my car has. It's old and was built in the early 90s; it's not top of the line in a lot of areas. But one thing I've learned about my car is that it doesn't like being complained about; don't insult the technology. My father complained about the sensitive AC/Heat in my car and it stopped working for almost a month. I know my car isn't a person or possessed, but the basic fact remains that I have no right to complain about it. It does it's job; it protects me, gets me from point A to point B, and is reliable most of the time. It's a great vehicle and I love it to death.

I've learned not to complain about my car...but I still complain about the other steaks in my life. I haven't learned to stop complaining about them and that's on me, a fault of my own. I'm a lucky, lucky, person; I'm very blessed. If 2011 has taught me anything it's taught me that despite the massive screw up I am, I still have people I can rely on, people I can trust.

Can everyone say that? No. Can you? I don't know, but I certainly hope so. For me, this past year has not been what I imagined it would be New Years 2011. New Years 2011 I was certain of things that now I'm not even sure I was ever right about. Here are a few I can think of right off the top of my head:

1. I was certain that despite how many pounds I was putting on, that it didn't really matter. I was wrong. My health was okay this time last year but I feel loads better now than I have in years. I feel more confident, more in control of myself than I ever have before. It's been a revelation to me to know I have the ability to work out, eat right, and make the smart choices in my moments of weakness. This time last year I would have laughed in your face if you told me that.

2. I was certain that I had a defined role in life; I knew what had to be done and how I was going to do it, and everything else didn't matter. I was wrong. I burned myself out severely and I was so sure what my role in life was that I chose not to listen to anything or anyone else, even God. My life was pretty much set...and then I burned out, had a crisis, and barely coped. I'm not certain right now about much of anything, but I'm the most uncertain about my life. I don't know what it's for or where it's going to go...but I hope I'll get some guidance on that sometime soon.

3. I was certain that I would never, ever, spend four months in Virginia. Seriously, this time last year, I had no thoughts of going to that state. It was too close to DC, too far from home, and I had nothing and no one there. My, how that changed. An extremely unlikely (if not completely insane) series of events transpired that made me a live in nanny for four months and not only did it help put me on the path to recovery from burn out, but it also gave me...I guess you could call it a second family. I came to care for those people dearly and they were a tremendous help in a lot of areas.

Those are the three things that came immediately to mind. There are more of course, but the point is that I thought I knew things. I thought I had certainties that in fact weren't certain at all. Which is why I need to be grateful that I have so many steaks. I have been fortunate enough in my life to be blessed with my blood family, my church family, and my second family up in Virginia (I'm likely the crazy cousin there). I have done a lot of complaining about my blood family and church family over the years. I really don't have a reason to complain at all.

Some people don't have one family. I have three. Some people don't have a car. I do. Some people don't eat on a regular basis. I do.

We should all be grateful for the fact that we have steak-the literal and figurative kind. We don't deserve anything; we're probably the most undeserving creatures on this planet. We wreck things, we wreck people, and we wreck ourselves. Oftentimes, we blame anything other than us for that; we complain about anything else before we'll ever be grateful we have stuff. We take everything for granted.

So, I'm going to make an effort to shut my mouth if I want to complain. I don't have a right to do it. No one does.

I'm going to make an effort to continue to eat right and work out. I'm going to do my best to encourage others to do the same.

I'm going to make an effort to be a better person than I am right now. I know I can be. I know I should be. I'm going to do my best to be a better person. Less stupidity, more common sense; less arrogance, more humbleness. I need a remodel. I've started the outside's time to work on the inside stuff.

Now, I'm not calling these New Years resolutions. Screw New Years resolutions, we all know no one really keeps them. I'm calling these Life Goals-something to aspire to in life to complete in life, preferably ASAP. Failure is an option-I can fail at these but guess what? I can pick myself up and try again. I'll likely end up doing that a few times this year and in the coming ones. But I won't forget these; once it hits the internet it never goes away, so they'll be here forever.

I implore the rest of you to do the same. Don't fall into the same old New Years crap that we all do every year; do something new for New Years...make it into a celebration of how much BETTER your life and yourself can be if you try. Just remember trying doesn't mean automatic'll fail, but that's okay; try again. And again. And again.

Oh, and be grateful you have a steak. ;) Happy New Year folks.

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