When you write a column for a magazine, it causes certain radar in you that makes topics pop into your head every time the news comes on the radio, TV or internet. It isn’t just those mediums. It’s conversations you are in, conversations you overhear, pieces of conversations you get while going through the grocery line, standing in an elevator, or from the other guy your dentist is working on while your cement dries. It’s not just what you hear, but the way it is said. I’ve become so accustomed to this I don’t even attempt to shut it down anymore. I do have to jot the notion down though because as clear as it seems in the moment when you hear it, five minutes later it is gone from your mind.
Here’s some ideas from a pile of napkins, wrappers and Post-it notes I constantly shove into this one particular pocket in my briefcase.
- Despite all politics, why are Hillary and Bill Clinton always explaining something? I had a girlfriend who was interested in someone else when I was in college and always denied it. She was always explaining. When I hear the Clintons talk, I get that same feeling. That old girlfriend married that guy; and divorced him 2 years later.
- There is a cost to being right especially to those who have power over you; parents, bankers, checkout clerks. You can point out something they got wrong but you will pay somewhere else for being more correct than them.
- Is there some connection between the overwhelming feat of winning an Olympic decathlon and then decades later fighting the overpowering urge to change sexual orientation? What is driving Bruce Jenner’s decisions these days? The psychology of that situation is fascinating.
- Getting the right attitude in the right situation is critical to winning. Sports commentators often mention a team “on the rise” going strongly into the playoffs because the timing is right. That translates well into real life, too. Succeeding can be temporary. Sustaining success or stringing together a series of successes is an enormous challenge.
- Why is the Internet so transfixed on drumming up old movie and television stars and displaying how their faces and lives are falling apart? Are we that insecure as a people that we derive pleasure from others' failures?
- Changing your mind has costs. If you buy a home and then a year later sell and buy a different one, you will lose a great deal on your investment, but impatience often drives poor decision-making. This is true for marriage/divorce, accepting a job you weren’t sure you wanted, even making a strong declarative statement that later you have to back away from. Being sure of yourself is an art and a talent that you should work to develop.
- No matter how deliberate someone’s success story seems, the real back story always includes a few lucky breaks and periods of uncertainty. No one just gets it all right from the start. We should all keep this in mind when seeking such perfection in life. God knows if you achieve 80 percent of what you were shooting for you are doing great!
- A smile transcends all language barriers. I lived on the International Dormitory Floor in my first year of college. Every culture was represented and I observed some wild things and learned a lot. I found though that most Americans believe everyone speaks English if it is simply spoken slowly enough--which is of course ridiculous. But a smile is a universal sign of friendliness and it used to speak volumes when confusion was found.
I look over this list of what first appears to be a random and scattered set of opinionated notions but then I begin to see pattern and a sense of order to it all. My parents used to always talk about how life, if lived correctly, includes an ever-increasing perspective that they compared to stepping back a little more every day and seeing the bigger picture as you back away; things seem to make more sense when you see all the other perspectives that have impact.
What can I gather and observe from these listed thoughts? I see an ever-present desire to figure out why people do as they do and say the things they say. I see my curiosity is constant when it comes to wanting to understand what drives people and what pulls them away from wanting to assimilate sometimes even to the point of rebellion. I find myself trying to be the “normalizer” and “peacemaker” like many middle children are prone to do. It’s like if I can figure out why people do as they do I can explain it to others who don’t understand and then all will be peaceful again. So if future essays were to be derived from this list I can gather that I am always driving at the same point; simply that although we are all so different we are all truly the same in the end. All of us are trying to find the answers, get along in life as best as possible and live well. A little in depth interpretation and understanding of oneself as well as each other can go a long, long way..
Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a BS in Business from Bowling Green State University and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University and has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990.