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Irons in the fire: Turn away wrath

Paul Marchant for Progressive Forage Published on 31 December 2021

While I’m a strong advocate of volunteerism, sometimes I think I’m involved in too much stuff. There are certain times of the year when that realization is more pronounced than others.

Take December, for instance. Pretty much, without fail, when I take a gander at my calendar every year somewhere around the end of the first week of the last month, I notice that I have some extracurricular activity marked on every single day. From practices and games with the high school girls’ basketball team to the county fair board, the Farm Bureau board and church responsibilities, I sometimes get to feeling like I’m spread about as thin as the cheese on a Little Caesar’s pizza. And more often than I’d care to admit, the more overwhelmed I progressively become with each duty, the more underwhelming my performance becomes.

It was in this very state of underperforming self-pity I found myself when I received what I perceived as a slightly scathing text from a friend, reprimanding me for my failure to call a meeting of a subcommittee for which I was chairman and he was a member. In (self) righteous indignation, I immediately pecked out a snarky text to him. How dare he impugn my well-intentioned fecklessness? I was drowning in a swamp of unfinished assignments, and this insignificant (to me, at the time) committee meeting was a couple hundred yards down on my mile-long to-do list.

It was about this time I gained a newfound appreciation for my technical ineptitude. One of my problems in this modern age of gadgetry is: I’m not all thumbs when I try to type out a text. Try as I may, I simply cannot master the rapid-fire, double-thumb texting method that seemingly comes so effortlessly to anyone under the age of 40. I’m pretty much limited to the one-index-finger method – and in all my southpaw glory, it has to be the index finger on my left hand. Since I’ve come to know, through several embarrassing communiques, that I can’t trust the voice-to-text application, my texting options are strictly limited.

As you may have guessed, it took me several minutes to formulate and craft the perfect text message to respond to this assault on my honor, however flawed it may be. Somehow, in the midst of those several minutes, a droplet of common sense somehow seeped through a crack in my temper-impaired logic. Well … that and the fact I noticed a text in the conversation thread from two weeks earlier – a congenial text, on the same subject, from the same friend, to which I had not responded.

Now, with the aid of a little time and perspective, my misguided rage subsided. With one bitter gulp, I swallowed my pride and immediately sent out a notice and a call for a meeting to each member of the aforementioned committee. I managed to find a spot in my schedule Monday night after basketball practice and a meeting with the county commissioners to take care of the overdue meeting. To my delight and chagrin, every member of the committee showed up with nary a complaint about the short three-day notice. Even with a few disagreements, we were able to amicably finish the business at hand, and I was home by 10:30.

As I warmed up my late supper, I was able to take a breath and take stock of some of the previous days’ happenings. The value of thinking before allowing a dysenteric flow of words to spew from mouth or pen (or text) was reinforced to me. I had to look it up, but a well-known Bible verse came to mind: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 KJV).

I, sadly, have not always adhered to this timeless wisdom, my family and kids most often bearing the brunt of my quick, ill-considered, temper-induced diatribes (if not outright fits). And over the years I’ve come to notice that, even if I’m right, I’m probably wrong – at least in my response. Of course, even with my newfound enlightenment I’ve since, on an occasion or two, reverted to my old ways, and I’ll no doubt continue to stumble. Nevertheless, I’ll keep on trying, no matter how right or wrong I may be.  end mark

Paul Marchant is a cowboy and part-time freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Follow him on Twitter, or email Paul Marchant.

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