Sunday, March 28, 2010


I used to write this silly little column called “Wisdom from a Coffee Cup” where I took whatever little saying was on my cup that day and turned it into whatever concept crossed my mind from it. Some days it touched people, other days they left pondering what drugs I was on, and still others generated hate mail in my inbox. Today from the depths, I bring you…..

Wisdom from a Beer Bottle

Too many strive towards complacency as a goal. They stop their urge and desire for discovery somewhere between youth and adulthood. And when they find their complacency threatened, they do everything to recover the warm, fuzzy feeling of that lost complacency as quickly as possible. Throughout every culture, every country, and every way of thought you will find it. We grow up thinking that the ability to become complacent is the equivalence of success in life. True Arrogant Bastards know that this could not be any further from the truth. The real beauty, richness and depth in life can only be found if the journey though life itself is looked upon as a constant chance to learn, live and find life’s passion. Passion threatens the complacent, and fills them with fear. Fear of the new, the deep and the different. We, on the other hand, seek it out. Endlessly, joyously….and aggressively.

~~Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale (the grammatic errors above are THEIRS so don’t write me about them)

I wasn’t so sure about calling this either complacency or arrogance so I started there.

From Merriam-Webster:
Main Entry: com•pla•cen•cy
Pronunciation: \-sən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural com•pla•cen•cies
Date: 1650
1 : self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
2 : an instance of complacency

Hmm. I think that sort of could work with the quote. What about Arrogant?

Main Entry: ar•ro•gant
Pronunciation: \-gənt\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin arrogant-, arrogans, present participle of arrogare
Date: 14th century
1 : exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner
2 : proceeding from or characterized by arrogance
synonyms see PROUD
— ar•ro•gant•ly adverb

Well, perhaps the very quote itself is arrogant by the first description. What does the second one tell us?

Main Entry: ar•ro•gance
Pronunciation: \ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

Not so much. Perhaps it is the arrogance of the claim or the act of making the claim they are speaking of… or maybe mine OWN arrogance is in taking this quote apart.

Either way, so let us focus on the text of the quote itself and complacency and leave the arrogance or lack of it to the side for now.

So my issue with the whole thing is not so much about the self satisfaction part or with the arrogance as I am not so sure how those both play into the quote. Again this is my opinion and may BE complacent or arrogant or both, who am I to judge. But what I did key in on right away was the unawareness of danger or deficiencies. I think many of us go through life very much this way (myself especially). I think we look at life and tend to view people in a way very much filtered through who we perceive them to be. For some they view everyone as bad, evil, uncaring, or some other negative personality trait and are blind-sided and caught off guard by the one who does not fit that description. For others like me we tend to take the other side. We assume that others judge us at face value, we assume that everyone WANTS to be “good”, we assume that everyone will believe that we want to be “good”, or we assume that people will treat us according to how we act and are knocked out when faced with an example of the opposite reality.

In this manner perhaps it IS complacency that is our downfall. We isolate ourselves in a world of our making, perfectly happy to go along thinking that things will always be as we think they are or should be. We are happy in this place. Everything fits our mold, no unpleasant surprises, no muss, no fuss. We either blindly miss the things that DON’T fit or ignore them and simply move on. It is in those times where we are faced with the unavoidable consequences of this behavior that we must own up to what we have created. We must face the error of our actions and this is where our true nature is tested.
This is where in that quote above we feel our whole perception of reality (good or bad) is threatened. How does one always certain of poor motives deal with a person who has shown themselves to be of pure intentions? Likewise when one has always assumed the best of intentions how does one deal with one who has shown that they have only the worst of them?

I believe that many of us do exactly as the quote says, we fail about mentally and try to fit the unexpected into our preconceived mold because only then can we recover and go on. We must try to find the “motive” behind the good or we must try to find the good in the bad. We try to filter it through every filter we have to make it fit our mold because only then can we understand it and move on.

I don’t know how much of this applies to “success in life” but it certainly applies towards success in “mental satisfaction”. When we feel confident and comfortable, we are mentally satisfied. It might not be the traditional satisfaction but mentally all the pegs fit the holes. We have all seen the self-satisfied smirk on the face of the person saying “I told you so” in the light of bad news or when bad behavior is proven to be the case. Likewise we have all also heard the “I knew it all along” when the very best of someone shines through. In both cases the expression is of our mental hand dusting when our opinion has been validated.

How does this all fit into complacency? It does you know. It applies in that we do this at our own peril. We trust the people who should not be trusted or live less rich lives for distrusting those who could be trusted. It places us in daily danger of living a life much less than what it could be.

I was surprised with myself that as I first read this little quote, I was shaking my head no and disagreeing with it. Then as I broke it down I still was skeptical it was only as I wrote this and moved through all the various lines of the quote that I came to agree with it. I would LIKE to disagree with it. I would love for it to be wrong. This is MY nature. I would love for life to be all roses and puppies or rainbows and unicorns as some might say. But the line that got me was the next one….
“The real beauty, richness and depth in life can only be found if the journey though life itself is looked upon as a constant chance to learn, live and find life’s passion.”
That is the kicker. By assuming that things are always as we think they are keeps us from finding new things, not finding new things keeps us from finding joy, and everything comes back to make the circle. This holds true for the good AND the bad. How would we know what was good if we didn’t know what was bad? How would we know the joy of happiness with out the depths of sadness? Would we appreciate anything? Or would we just assume it is as it should me and take it for granted?

I lost that feeling again for a moment on the next line. Is it about fear? is it fear that keeps us stuck here or is it really just ALL about the complacency? Is it really just complacency that keep us sitting around with a closed mind unwilling to see the good in the bad or the evil in the good? Perhaps there, right there in that thought lies the arrogance. It is the arrogance of thought that we already KNOW how the story ends. We are secure in our knowledge that we are right and we have no need to see the end of movie, read the last chapter, or get to know the issue at hand.

So I ended up back where I started, disagreeing with the quote but for a totally different set of reasons than I thought. I ended up think that they are both quite wrong. The complacency is certainly no way to go. We do not want to be blind to the bad any more than we would choose to miss the good. The arrogance is in thinking that either way is right. I think that the only way to avoid the trap is to avoid our complacency by acknowledging that it exists and yet refusing to bow to it and instead forcing ourselves to keep an open mind. Be sure that everyone is good or bad but be open to the possibility that they are not as we might expect….. only then can we find true happiness, beauty, passion, or safety……

or perhaps this thought is the ultimate of arrogance… or complacency.