Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Sweet Ol’ Sourpuss.

You know the old saying, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Last night I heard a man say that turning lemons into lemonade means you had to have also been given a few pounds of sugar, too.lemon juicer

Could it be, that some people are so overcome by life’s bitterness, that it overwhelms the fact that there is plenty of sweetness present and that it gets overlooked?

Yeah.  That does seem to be the go-to wiring for a lot of folks.  Myself included, on occasion.

The other day, I meant a wonderful woman who talked at length about her years of community and philanthropic work and also of her beloved children and grandchildren,  She told me that she really tried, despite time and financial constraints, to be in the lives of her children, grandchildren and family.  Well, everyone in her family except for her brother.  Her brother, she said, was an extremely angry, disagreeable and unhappy man who had mostly lived an isolated life.  She continued talking about her family and again mentioned how difficult and bad-tempered her brother was.  I asked her exactly how many siblings she had and she replied that she had two wonderful sisters and one bitter brother.  Sensing a theme, I decided that I needed to know where in the familial line-up this apparently wildly grumpy man had landed (and make sure that she was not talking about my ex-husband).  Turns out, her brother was the baby of the family.  She rolled her eyes and said, “The baby who was not only spoiled rotten, but spoiled RANCID.”

After hearing about her rewarding life and all that she did and was, I told her that I thought maybe she’d sucked up all the sweetness available in the family and that by the time they got to her poor brother, there was nuthin’ left.

Could happen.

As interesting as this woman was, I left our long conversation thinking about her brother.  She’d said he’d never married, had no kids and lived the bulk of his life alone – and completely by choice.  It made me wonder what had happened in his life that made him so angry.  What pain had he suffered that it was more acceptable to be by his own bad self than in the company of other heartbeats?  See, the thing about being on your own is that you are Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer and nobody, but nobody, steers your boat into uncharted territory, anti-matey.  It’s safe in the waters where you’re mean enough to chase all of the sharks away.

Honestly, I believe that most (perhaps even all) cantankerous cranks have some psychological burr under their saddle, hitting their most tender and pink spot, causing pain.  Mighty hard to be all sweet when you’ve got that going on underneath it all.

So, what?  Do we give the snarkboat captains of the world a pass for being ill-tempered and crabby?  No.  But, we can learn to act – not react – every time they serve up their irritable bowl.  We don’t have to bite.

I don’t know if habitually grumpy people will ever be able to recognize when sweetness comes into their life, at least not long enough to stop that squinching sensation in their salivary glands that gives them “that look” we all know (the one that makes us run in the opposite direction).  What I do know, is that when handed (unsolicited, I might add) the lemons that these sourpusses offer, we are the ones who have the power to ultimately make lemonade.

There are plenty of super articles about “How to Deal with Difficult People” or “So You Love an Angry Person” etcetera.   You go on and feel free to look them up to see what will apply to your situation.  In the meantime, I want to point out that people act like they feel.  Once you understand that, you can have compassion in your pocket and it will help.  Immensely.  Think about it.  If it were an injured puppy or Sea Monkey, you likely wouldn’t be quick to scold it or be judgmental.  The beautiful thing about empathy is that it takes criticism down a peg or two and make the whole experience less bitter.  You’ll see, in the long run, it will help you and the testy Sea Monkey.

Even if he is the baby of the (brine shrimp) family.

Look at the bright side — at some level, those sweet little guys are entertaining.  Even if only microscopically.

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