This is a part of a 31 day writing prompt series called Reverb 11 <– click to see the entire prompt list and join in.
What lessons did you learn?
I hope I learned more than the few I recall and why is it that we seem to only remember the ones that were difficult or painful. I’m going to go off on a little bit of a tangent on this one I can already feel my mind wandering so stay with me I promise I have a point.
The other day we put up our Christmas tree and like every year prior I am the one who gets stuck with the stringing of the lights. Sigh. I can’t stand doing it and yet I can’t stand when someone else tries to do, I know that sounds harsh but you have to wrap the branches you can’t just run around in circles and let them fall where they may, I digress.
So 2 hours into it, 3000 mini lights later I decide it’s time to ‘fine tune’ this is the part where I get the pruners and I gentle give the tree a little thinning hair cut. You know where I’m going with this don’t you? Yep I did it. I carelessly cut a wire instead of a branch and HALF THE TREE WENT BLACK.
Instead of removing all the dead strands I decided in my infinite wisdom to try and retrace my steps and replace only the strand I decapitated. An hour later and ten failed attempts to figure out what strand was linked to what I ripped half of the lights off and started over again. My husband watched as I broke down in frustration. He asked me why I didn’t just take them all down from the very beginning. Because, it’s human nature. I think we are hard wired to do damage control. It really wouldn’t have been “that bad” had I quickly identified and replaced the rather small section of broken lights. Even in the recounting of my misstep I can’t resist minimizing with a lowly qualifier. Ha.
My husband, the guy who reads Tolstoy for fun, decided he wanted in on this debate. While I continued to untangle he asked me how long into the effort to minimize the loss was the point of diminishing returns.
Noun -1. law of diminishing returns – a law affirming that to continue after a certain level of performance has been reached will result in a decline in effectiveness
“I dunno” I so eloquently mumbled “until I’ve had enough I guess.” At that point I actually contemplated taking them ALL off, even the working ones, but that seemed a bit martyr-ish. He was right or maybe he had a point. Why wouldn’t I just cut my losses (sorry could not resist). I felt my stomach tighten as I started stripping the tree. Was becoming so angry that I no longer enjoyed the moment the point of diminishing returns? I know my family wasn’t enjoying mom’s melt down. This whole anger thing has got me thinking. How had someone so easy going become so angry.
I walked away from that tree that morning and sat down with a big InN’Out burger and ate my feelings, no I’m kidding. I took a few deep breathes finished half my lunch and calmly returned to the tree, started over with the lights and packed the pruners away.
I also discovered you can actually RECYCLE broken lights. Who knew.
This year has been about lessons in anger. How anger hurts and how anger destroys what is good in my life. I’ll continue to work on letting go and managing my stress so that I don’t succumb to the ever easy release of anger, yelling.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
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