Perspective: Separating Important Stuff from Nuisance Stuff

JLSIt was tense as I waited, outside the O2 Arena in Dublin on a rainy and pitch black night. My daughter Nicole’s and her buddy were attending their first concert ‘on their own’. I was assigned to collection duty.  Being a tad over-anxious, I’d arrived early to secure parking close to the venue, 2 wheels firmly wedged up on the footpath. Several times the Gardai asked me to move on but I successfully pleaded the case for picking up a 12 year old (she’s 16, but a white lie in the circumstances).

Danger Signal:

When I saw Nicole and her buddy walking towards the car, both of them sobbing, my first instinct was that they’d been assaulted. That Guard should have been focusing on public order offenses rather than stupid traffic duty. When she climbed into the car, Nicole could barely speak. After several minutes, I finally got her to open up. This is how the conversation went:

Nicole: “Did you hear the news?” (sobbing)

Me: “No, What News?”

Nicole: It’s terrible. I can’t believe it actually happened”

Me: “What happened?”

Nicole: “I don’t think I’ll ever get over it”  (que for her friend to sob in sympathy)

Me: “Nicole, you’re not making any sense. In the name of Jesus, what happened?”

Nicole: “JLS are breaking up. That was their last concert. I can’t believe it” (more sobs and some ferocious nose blowing).

Feeling a tad guilty, I rolled down the window, thanked the Garda for his patience and drove off.  There might be something in the ‘men not being able to multi-task’ stereotype as it was proving difficult to drive the car and contain the laughing at the same time. Because to openly show mirth under those particular circumstances, would be to invite a torrent of teenage angst! And who needs more of that when there is already a world glut?

JLS Who?

For those of you who are not clued into teenage culture, JLS are a British Boy Band. They came to prominence in 2008 on the X-Factor and subsequently produced 5 number 1 singles and a top-selling album – hawking more than 10 million records overall. They have accumulated an estimated personal worth of somewhere north of £8 million each since 2008 – just over £1 million per year (I will just have to keep practicing that guitar).  Poor Nicole was devastated. Her friend Rebecca was in shock. It was as if the world had completely turned upside down and nothing good could ever emerge in the future. A dark, apocalyptic age had descended upon us.

Bigger Issues:

I have a brother who is currently hospitalised with dementia. He’s 68. I also have a really great personal friend, younger than my brother, who had to retire with a similar condition. Added into the mix, a couple of weeks ago my niece died. Just under 50 and with two small kids, she had battled cancer for over 6 years but lost out in the end. These are real life tragedies, somewhat bigger than the departure of JLS from the stage.

Gaining Perspective:

For some time now my philosophy could be summarised as follows: Big issues push small issues off the page. Think about that the next time someone serves you ‘skinny fries’ (when you distinctly asked for chunky) or fills your glass with Cabernet Sauvignon when you have a preference for Merlot.  And in relation to ‘past sins’, The Buddha reminded us that ‘holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’.  My suggested word for 2014 is Perspective and I’ve just written a Post-It Note to myself as follows: ‘Get over it’.  Anything in that for you?

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