discipline, adversity, learning and happiness
This word is chock-a-block with double meanings. If you are disciplined, you are considered to be organized and effective. You do what you need to do to get the job done. Or, you follow a regimen and stick to it. Parents are expected to discipline their children, but the choice of means of discipline is like opening up a mine field. If children act out, strangers will immediately assume that the children aren’t “disciplined” enough, when they might be just hungry or tired.
To me, discipline is focusing on the task at hand, even when the task is unpleasant or difficult. I have sung solo at the funerals of friends or family. People are amazed how I’m able to do it. I do it because I’ve been asked to do it, and I would never refuse to sing at a funeral, no matter how tough it is on me personally. It’s an honour I am not going to refuse. As the funeral choir at our church will attest, I’ve been a blubbering mess before and after I’ve sung. I hold it together to get the job done. Why? Well, what else am I going to do?
“that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I’ve always believed that, and am living witness to the truth of the statement. I’ve dealt with a lot of crap in my life and I’ve survived. I’m the go-to in a crisis. I fall apart after. Just don’t hug me in the midst of things; I can cope with anything as long as no one breaches the armour with a hug.
I think the true nature of a person comes out when confronted with adversity, whether it’s a job loss, a life threatening illness, the end of a relationship or a threat to a loved one. You find out who your true friends are, and there are often sad surprises. People that you would have listed as chum or acquaintance stand by you like guards. People you thought were your friends vanish like smoke on a windy day. I don’t think there’s a middle ground-you are either drawn closer or forced apart. There is no room for molly-coddling. Lead, follow or get the hell out of my way.
My favorite thing in the world, learning. I love to learn new things, I love to discover new information. I’m learning all kinds of things through the eyes of my daughter, and through her questions. Learning is why I’m a bit of a generalist when it comes to my writing career. I love to write about people or stories that let me learn something while I’m at it. My best stories begin with my need to know something. One of my best interviews ever was with the composer of the African Sanctus, David Fanshawe. I had dutifully prepped for the interview and read about how he had schlepped all over Africa recording indigenous music in the early 1970s. Just as I was about to phone Mr. Fanshawe, it dawned on me that this was the 1970s, and electricity would have been a very scarce commodity. I’d already sent a prepared list of questions, but when we started the interview, I told him that I needed to know how he did the interviews. His delighted answer was “well, my dear, that’s the very essence of the thing, isn’t it. You’ve hit on it and so few do.” He then went on to explain how he’d carried battery operated equipment because he could get D-cell batteries in any larger city in Africa, and the children used the old ones for cars. His interview was far more warm and informal because my desire to learn had asked the right question.
My love of learning makes me a better writer, a better mother and a better wife because I take the time to learn about my husband’s interests.
Ah, there’s the rub. My free flow writing has ground to a halt with this one. What is happiness? Damned if I know.