It has taken me all of my 72 years to figure out that I do not have to spend any time with people that I do not like. That was not possible a number of years ago when I was in the work world on a daily basis. These people were part of my world; they sat around at meetings with me. They gathered in groups outside of my work day and pretended that I had to be there. They were even part of our families, with whom we were obliged to be with on certain occasions.
This is not to say that I have, or had, a large circle of people that I did not, or do not like. I am normally someone who befriends random people and talks to them almost without fail. My children and grandchildren have even cautioned their friends that I might do that at a park, restaurant or at the beach. I am usually a pretty friendly guy.
Maybe it is my recent bout with heart surgery that has cleared up my need to be around people who are inconsiderate, surly, narcissistic, or downright nasty. As my circle of closest friends grows smaller (mostly as a result of death or moving away), I tend to reach out to people who seem to be interested in sharing a good laugh, travel to places, have similar economic and social values and you can call to have dinner with at a moment’s notice, even if they live an hour away from you.
I have arrived at these conclusions as a result of seeing whether I am happy with my circumstances. I could have my grandchildren visit every day. At those times, I am happy. When a certain relative calls and has me on the phone for a while, I begin to wonder if I am pleased to be speaking to him/her. Am I truly happy sitting with my professional friends at meetings listening to the same old tripe that I have been hearing for over 35 years?
How much more fun it is to meet with a young superintendent who is trying his best in his first year to help his school district raise its sights. What fun to be with our scholarship kids and listen to their tales of success and yes, failure. What joy to hear about a program for kids that is succeeding beyond its original plan. That’s the stuff that makes me happy.
Who needs the constant complaints of the “nabobs of negativity?” Who needs the relatives who have no other motives but their own self aggrandizement or satisfaction? Give me a white paper from Mike Vereb on compressed gas vehicles and a plan to create jobs here in PA, or a call from a student member of the State Board of Education, who is entering his second year at Dartmouth, or an email from LaToya, or Kendra or Travis or Kyle. There is always time for those things.