Marvin Repinski: When griping and venting become our friends

Published 4:56 pm Friday, June 3, 2022

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The Salvation Army store in Austin has something for everyone. Out of the hundreds — over time — thousands of usable donations, the store has a variety of items that provide whatever you can’t find anywhere else. Thank you!

Sometimes an idea for one of the articles I write for the Austin Daily Herald, comes from a book or magazine or “treasure” that I found at the Salvation Army store. They welcome both your contributions and a challenging place to shop.

The prompt for today’s writing comes from a scribbled-up notebook I found that has a title on the first page: My Gripe Book. What’s that, I asked myself. One of the gripes, understandably, is the sad, sense of failure, in noting no responses to the many letters that were written with applications for job openings which have been advertised in the computer field.

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“Am I a failure?” “Are my applications poorly written?” “Are there too many applicants for a limited number of jobs in this field?” All of these remarks fit well into a person’s Gripe Book!

Most of us, at some time, erupt with feelings of self-blame, or blaming others. We may tell ourselves, “I know I’m competent; I know I’m not a so-called failure.” Where do we go from this place? Call it being stuck.

A statement by Norman Cousins that I’ve read and re-read a number of times may fit the above situation. “I learned that next to the atomic bomb, the greatest danger is defeatism, despair, and inadequate awareness of what human beings possess. I feel that any problem that can be defined, is capable of being resolved. Out of this has come my conviction that no person knows enough to be a pessimist.”

Although I quote this very high bar of human accomplishment, I place it in my world of reality. Yesterday’s contacts are a part of that reality. What is that, you ask.

Mailing letters at the Post Office, I noticed a man holding a cardboard sign, standing on the corner. We’ve all seen it — people we assume are in desperate need. What I gave him was a few dollars and a loaf of bread I had just purchased. I am, as I write, puzzled.

Encouragement of our days: we can do it; we can be a conqueror of many problems. Yet all around us are people running into walls of neglect, illness, poverty, and possibly homelessness. This is all part of our conflicted, challenging world. And I’m of a belief that we need not be walled in by the impossible.

I call attention to a statement by Henry David Thoreau. “Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it a right will rather preserve its life than destroy it.”

The nature of our living is that more than just bumps in the road, but awesome events, broken dreams, and harms done to us, are worthy of gripes. Griping is often necessary to get a grip on things. Griping may be the first step to knowingly turn events around. Griping that does not sour our mouths or curse others may be enlightening. We may be placed in a learning mode by thinking through, “what went wrong?”

Related to the trap of griping, is the experience of venting. In a Leadership Program sponsored by the University of Texas, Austin, is an essay by Rochelle Holland. She writes about venting. “It is a process that allows the student to explore her concerns. She may be overwhelmed with stressors, including financial hardship, depression, overwhelming responsibilities, time management, child care concerns, and housing resources. It is important to listen to what she is saying. A number of actions are to be taken by the said student.”

I say to myself: “Don’t just sit around and mope; you are not a toadstool!” Most of us have the intelligence, health, and some of us, the ability to move beyond just uttering “that’s the pits!” Might a person seek out some resources by connecting with a mentor? For the Mower County area, I’m friends with the Mower County Senior Center, several churches, and the special classes taught in our schools.

The writings of Scott Peck, Brian Doyle, and the articles in the Sun Magazine, are gifts to aid in self-affirmation. The ArtWorks Center in Austin and the new YMCA at the Austin Community Recreation Center, are places to connect. Refurbishing one’s life is an ongoing process. We are in process. My friendships with people in the private clubs — many related to the military, give me the strength to keep an adequate attitude and my observation is: “For these members, friends keep my appetite lively and my memory alive!”

The point of this writing is to acknowledge and work on our gripes. Also, that proper venting may open gates to a fresh pasture. As in the story I started with, we begin like the little trickle of water; that water feeds the massive Pacific Ocean!”

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let that person show one’s works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (The Bible, James 3:13)