Elwood P. Dowd, Philosopher

I do not believe in New Year’s resolutions. You make them, and then the harsh reality of Winter and daily life sets in. Your resolutions are usually up in flames or at least badly tattered. I will however, muse on something for the 2012, specifically one saying, and in general, a movie I’ve enjoyed for all the years I have seen it, Harvey.

From the movie’s memorable quotes there is this:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

There are those things in life, often the most perfectly obvious things, and you might wonder why they are there or even why they are not fixed. Why does that annoying event happen over and over again? Why doesn’t someone change “it”?

If change refers to a person, what you are really saying is you want them to change. At work, that means you wish the person would be disciplined, reassigned, fired, or otherwise would disappear altogether. If change refers to a process, when presented with a problem like that, I am sure Hercules would have preferred to clean the Augean Stables.

I had one of those why is this the way it is moments over vacation, watching the same pattern unfold that has unfolded for several years, and I got drawn into it almost with the same results. But, this time, having seen Harvey over the holidays, I remember Elwood P. Doud’s quote about being oh so pleasant, and I was.

I could not remove the problem vortex into which I had been pulled, and behaving other than pleasant was going to make others miserable. So, I followed Elwood without even realizing it.

This is not a declaration of avoiding problem, far from it. Instead, it is a declaration of how to respond and not ignore those problems and keep one’s dignity.

Happy New Year!

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