When faced with a “to kvetch or not to kvetch” kind of a question, do yourself and especially those around you a favor, don’t. But since kvetching isn’t like Solitaire aka an activity that can be done all by your lonesome, a wee bit of a gander at The Ring Theory of Kvetching prevents you from tasting your feet unduly and also spares those around you from wishing you a few lightyears away due to well…your kvetchiness!

The concept is simple and can be applied to multiple scenarios. Or so I hear. Draw a circle and write the name of the individual who is afflicted, emotionally distraught or just vulnerable due to upheavals in their life. Around that circle draw a bigger circle and write the name of the people who are impacted the most due to closeness with the afflicted person (let’s call them A for the sake of my thumbs since this post is being typed out on a phone, real time). These people are typically immediate family members, best pals et al. And then keep adding circles and also adding the names of the people who are gradually more distant in relation to A. You don’t have to map everyone including the neighborhood grocer but relevant people and those who might want to look in on A during a difficult phase.

Now the Ring Theory simplies things and quite easily too- don’t dump on the people in the smaller circles and especially not on A. And your opinions and advice and anecdotes which may be best suited for a situation such as a person recovering from a bad bout of ill health, can ideally be directed towards people in the outer circles since they are less likely to take offence, listen with a less distracted air because they are less emotionally vested in the individual in the smallest circle.

And why is this theory important or even necessary? Well I’ll quote my own experience here. A little over two weeks ago my father had a severe health crisis and it was touch and go for a bit. A good bit. Everything in our lives was put on hold just to hear the doctors’ updates about his progress. He’s pulled through and will make a decent enough recovery but during those days when he was in the hospital and had tubes coming out of him, some people who came to “support” us and look in on him were clueless about what to say. Or what they ought to have said.

Rather than just hold our hand and send good vibes our way they spoke of people they had lost. Why avoiding specific medical interventions (something my father *had* undergone) was the right way to do things and a host of other inputs which were irrelevant, offered in a manner not sympathetic or even remotely helpful.

To such people I think I ought to mail a printed copy of The Ring Theory of Kvetching and maybe even send a framed copy.

Bottom line? It’s not merely enough that you mean well. If you can’t translate that into action or words that do what are supposed to in a particular situation, then your presence doesn’t amount to anything significant for the people you want to be present for. No one is taking a roll call to see who showed up and who didn’t. So if you do show, make it count.

Here endeth the lesson.