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there is no God

One reason I haven't posted for a few days is that I have been trying to figure out an answer to my son Ed. A bunch of people stayed over the weekend, and Ed and I were bunking down in the living room. I was reading, and Ed let out a sigh from his couch.

You complaining about the light? I asked, without looking over.

Uh, yeah.

Now, Ed, you know how I feel about that.

Yeah, Dad, I do. But I was wondering. What exactly is so bad about complaining?

I sat up straight. I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you. I felt like a preacher whose kid asks what is so bad about Satan.

Not complaining all the time, he said. No one likes a whiner. But if something is bugging you, I don't see why you can't complain about it.

I made a sign to ward off the Evil Eye. I have avoided complaining all my life. I hate causing trouble for others, making their lives harder. I hate not being able to "take it" - whatever "it" is. To have a son of mine question this fundamental article of faith, well - I didn't know whether to spank him or shun him. I turned the light out and went to bed.

But the question wouldn't leave me alone. What was wrong with complaining? It was like trying to figure out why 2 and 2 were four. My thoughts whirled. They have not really died down yet. See, I know that Ed is not a complainer. When he broke his collar bone we sat in the ER for four hours and he didn't let out a peep. When he was a toddler he ran right into a glass door, got up and kept running. (My brother was shocked. One of my kids did that, we'd be hearing about it for hours, he said.) So to have Ed take up the complainer's cause was quite unsettling. I stared up into the darkness of the living room. He went on, persuasively, reasonably. If you never complain, no one knows how you feel, he said. The thing that's bugging you may be real easy to fix, and if you don't talk about it, it'll never get fixed. See, Dad, if I hadn't mentioned the light, it'd still be on. Now I'll fall asleep in comfort ... because I complained.

Shut up, I replied, because I too can be persuasive.

I could feel him smiling in the dark.

More on this later, because I am still in turmoil. Complaining is bad, isn't it? Isn't it?

By the way, I have no idea what the picture is about. It's somewhere between cool and dumb, so it seems to fit my life right now.


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