Back when I was married to my dear late husband, the mathematician Jeff Joel, I used to remind him that we were “creating a culture of creativity, rather than complaint.” Jeff was Jewish, and I figured that was why complaint seemed to be his default disposition. Then I moved to Bloomington, and got invited to join the Green Acres Neighborhood Association, which I agreed to on the condition that we “choose to create a culture of creativity, rather than complaint.” (Neighborhood associations are notorious for their complaint-based culture.) In other words, whatever we do, it’s got to be fun or it isn’t worth our time. (The Transition Town movement started with the same attitude. Read, for example, the last line of this recent blogpost from founder Rob Hopkins.)
This mandate was joyously received, and we’ve been following it ever since, experimenting with different forms and events and processes that either generate creativity or not, in which case we let them go and move on to the next. The key is the attitude of experimentation coupled with learning from each experience. In other words, don’t worry if what you try doesn’t succeed, or rather, doesn’t meet your (often way too high) expectations. You still learned something. What did you learn? For that will serve as one more stepping stone in the foundation for WHATEVER comes next. Little by little, we both refine our act while broadening our horizons. Nothing is too big, as long as the little things are continuously attended to. Are they? And nothing is too small, unless we narrow our focus so minutely that we forget the larger horizon. Once again, one eye focused close to, the other far out. The latter lends the former meaning; the former, over time, renders the latter real. Both together, create internal balance, resilience, the human seed bed for permacultural regeneration of our world.
A friend of mine here in Bloomington, whose husband was a classmate of Jeff’s at Princeton, also, she says, constantly complains. We meet for lunch and laugh. He too, is Jewish.
Then I discovered: I am Jewish! (Hidden family history on my mother’s side.) WOW! So either complaint is not (or not only) an inherently Jewish trait (admittedly, I only had two examples from which I generalized), or, I complain more than I realize. Hmmm.