While I’d like to think that I’m not much of a complainer, I’ve come to realize that complaining is something we all do without even recognizing it. To set the record straight, I am not a chronic complainer. Sure, here and there I will fuss about my day…traffic was worse than expected; the gardener didn’t fix the sprinkler; the movie was disappointing; too much dust from the construction across the street; and so on—but I’m a firm believer in the power of positivity, knowing that complaining focuses only on the negative and sets oneself to fail at the outset. And yet….
Wasn’t it just two months ago I complained that we were overspending on eating out and we needed to cut back that activity? Seems like that’s not a problem now considering most restaurants have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wasn’t it two months ago I said it I’d like to break away from opulent and high priced dinner banquets that cater to the elite status? That doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore given the “ban” on large group gatherings. Wasn’t it over two months ago I grumbled that I spent too much time on the road with traffic that I lacked time with my family? Now it seems my travel plans are keeping me home spending time with my family. In truth, I’m exhausted, emotionally and physically from these months and I barely have time to process my day each night, but I can’t complain. Life and everything about it is still so sweet.
In reality, I have nothing to complain about and everything to appreciate. I come from a strong and proud Armenian family who through the worst period in their history maintained their identity, their culture, and their overwhelming love for life. I grew up with a father who taught me that survival depended on optimism and the fierce fighting spirit of love for family. I grew up with a mother who taught me that the true measure of human worth is not in what we gain but in the sacrifices we are willing to make for the people we love and the ideals in which we believe. I grew up in a country whose people saw their hopes, their dreams and vision crushed by war and who, despite the governing hand that they’ve been dealt, still try to preserve their human dignity and character. Today, we are living in one of those periods in our history that will be marked by changes in all of humanities ideas and values, and human dignity and character will be questioned.
In my wallet, I keep three neatly folded pieces of paper; though I have learned them by heart from a very young age, I refer to them constantly. One says, “Do unto others whatever you would have them do unto you. This is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) Another says, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) And the third is a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night day, Thou canst not be false to any man.” At the end of my day, I meet my God. And before I unleash my mind to sleep I ask, “Did I do so unto others? Did I guard against greed? Did I measure up to that, this day?” My meet with Him is candid. I take inventory of my actions and deeds. It covers my thoughts, impulses, inclinations and temptations. What thoughts did I have today? Who did I ignore? Were my intentions noble?
Exhausting as it may be, I will not complain. I consider this current situation a time to pause, to take a giant step back and look at the whole picture. This is the time for each of us to look within ourselves to reevaluate, to find purpose in ideas and decide by which ideals we will live. I look to my golden rules to make and strengthen me in my time on this sweet planet. I want to give to this planet something more that just my labor and material accomplishments (or lack thereof); something that can be measured as good in the sight of our God; something that adds value to His faith in humanity.
Everything in life is still sweet. We are not what we have lost and we are not what has been taken from us. I will not complain because I am the next generation of a great family who entrusted me with their loving survival spirit to cultivate good thoughts and consciously live by God’s wisdom.
I might fuss here and there, but I will not complain.