Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If You Cannot Improve Upon the Silence, Say Nothing...

I was paid a very nice compliment the other day by the president of my firm.

Unfortunately, while most of us are gearing up for the holiday season (broke or not), this time of year also sees an increase in fatalities. Historically, our caseload goes up from about mid-October to mid-February. There's not necessarily one explanation for it, though we suspect some. I'm not sure there's ever been any research about the matter, either.

Anyhow, as expected, we are busy. We had three services at 10 a.m. the other day, when we awoke to temperatures in the teens here in North Texas. Thank God there wasn't much precipitation, as icy roads were kept at bay.

As we gathered in the "coffee room" of our office early in the morning, ready to tackle the day, he said, "You know, one of the things I most admire about our Javi is his extraordinary ability to remain calm in the wake of a storm and not critical of others shortcomings to the point of causing arguments at every blessed corner!"

You'd have to know that our profession has moments of high stress. If you have ever watched any show or film with a hospital emergency room, you can rest assured at some point the action will be elevated to what the medical community calls, "code blue." Funeral homes have code blues. We have moments when we just don't know how were going to get it all done.

Consequently, people become fatigued and irritable. Ultimately, we get involved in arguments which have no true value, that is, arguing a valid point to improve a situation is one thing. Arguing to argue and criticize is just -- in my opinion -- an incredible waste of time and energy.

It happens everywhere. People are insecure and feel the need to impose on others, especially if they are granted the authority to do so. I have seen the women in my life argue for hours about what outfit should be worn to a certain occasion. I realize that's par for the course for women, but is it necessary?

After the comment was made, one of the other funeral directors agreed. She said, "Yeah, Javi is what makes us all calm no matter what chaos is going on. How do you do it?"

My mother assumes I keep it all in. She warms of the dangers of that, and perhaps I do. I don't feel that way, though.

The truth of the matter is I just don't give it any thought. I mean, I have my moments of stress and worry, but I separate legitimate worries from shallow, meaningless ones.

That said, I love the quote I gave this piece. Another is, "The sign of a good friendship is when silence is comfortable."

There are many.

Stephen King once said he doesn't like to waste words, which is sorta ironical, as many of his novels are well into the 65,000-word range. Seemingly, a statement like that would not be notable of one of the most significant writers of my lifetime.

I guess the idea, moral -- call it what you want -- etc., is that we could bank so much time if we could just be humble enough to shut up every now and then. If there is no obvious intrusion or malicious intent in our fellow human being's intention, why make it worse with selfish arguments? Why try to convince someone going one way is better than the way they are going if both ways get you there in relatively the same time, with the same level of difficulty?

Coach Dungy, who heads the NFL team in Indianapolis, has taken that team to the playoffs every one of his last six seasons, and on the way to a seventh. He won a Super Bowl with them two seasons ago, and is the youngest coach to beat all 32 NFL teams at one point or another during his short tenure with the Colts.

If you know coach Dungy, you know what I mean. If you don't, try and catch a Colts game one day on TV. They'll point the camera at him constantly. He's the thin, African American coach walking calmly on the sideline. He rarely moves his lips.

As calm and cool as he is, compared to many of his coaching peers, he exemplifies what I mean about wasting energy with arguments or comments that have no tangible value.

All the best.

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