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"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread."
– Edward Abbey  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 9 September 2019  

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  Balance
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   There are several clichés to describe this month’s meanderings. “Life is all about balance,” “You can’t have too much of a good thing,” “You can’t have one without the other,” “Take the good with bad” — and so on.
   
   I am happy with my life’s course, the rhythm of things, my inner circle of friends and my family life. Not every day is a “butterflies and unicorns” day, but you get my drift.
   
   Life’s balance comes in the form of individuals who periodically drop in and just suck the life out of everyone around them. The effect they have on others –- and there are reciprocal willing participants –- is much like a rock dropped into a puddle of water.
   
   This isn’t the pleasant little dollop and soft ripple of water. Oh no! This is the softball-sized rock plummeting into the water, creating a huge rebound fountain and tsunami-like waves; leaving the puddle depleted of water.
   
   Despite my best efforts to stay above and clear of the unnecessary generated drama, I get pulled into it, and I hate myself for it. As we say in the military, “It’s a real s#%t show.”
   
   It is a no-win situation. There is always the guarantee of wailing, gnashing of teeth, hate and discontent. It is so incredibly divisive as people are played against each other. The worst consequence ends up being relationships, which are usually very solid, that take a massive and hurtful beating.
   
   Yet another cliché comes to mind, “Misery loves company.” I know I am not the only person who has to deal with this situation. Some people must live with certain personalities day in and day out with no respite.
   
   When life throws a flaming bag of poo on your front doorstep, there has to be a way to put the flames out without getting too messy. From Google, my fount of knowledge, I gathered some advice from folks with P.h.Ds to help us find balance.
   
   If you are old enough, you may remember the 1983 movie, “War Games,” with the main frame computer named War Operational Plan Response. The computer’s purpose was to play out every conceivable outcome of thermonuclear war, but it came to this conclusion — the only way to win was not to play. The same concept goes for dealing with certain people.
   
   Try not to give them any material to generate drama or play the victim card. If it looks like it’s going to happen, pretend you’re in a horror movie and you’re approaching the threshold of the door to the scary house. Listen to the little voice in your head scream at full volume, “Don’t go in there!”
   
   If you must deal with them, don’t permit them to affect your sense of self or define your world. Set solid and clear boundaries. Take care of yourself first, and remember that it’s not your job to fix them.
   
   If you can’t avoid the person, focus on your healthy relationships and look to build an external support network of friends. Spending too much time in a dysfunctional relationship with someone can leave you emotionally depleted.
   
   Lastly, if you end up emotionally and physically drained all the time and it leads to constant depression and anxiety –- it’s time to save yourself by seeking professional help.
   
   Switching topics to end on a positive note –- this month, on Independence Day, we celebrate 243 years of freedom paid for and secured by the patriots who have come before us. If you have the means, fly an American flag to celebrate being the “Home of the Free because of the Brave.”
  
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