When did we become so uptight, I wonder. Have we always been this way? Has life always been a game of cautious breathing and ballet dancing around issues. Have relationships always been a game of balancing appropriate topics of conversations with the danger zone of politics, religion, and The Voice. I wonder.
In America, and perhaps other parts of the world that I can't speak for, we've become extremists. The very thing we hate. And I'm speaking to myself here, because my natural bend bows towards the extreme; the rash; the compulsive; the obnoxiously bold. I understand it, because I experience it firsthand so often. This need to be heard and understood and accepted as I am, it stars with that. It starts with picking up my end of the tug-o-war rope and digging my heels in, and determining to stand firm and strong and not be dragged into the mud. I will not be weak. The problem is, in a game such as this, the goal is never to stand still, but rather to gain ground.
And so we pull.
We pull, and we pull, and we pull, until we find ourselves creeping backwards. And in the process we either pull our opposition along with us, dragging them through the mud and into the surrender of like-mindedness, or else they let go of the rope and break away for good.
It's only after the rope breaks that we look down at the burns on our hands and our clean boots that never touched the mud, and we wonder what started it all. We think back to the conversation that sparked the war and realize that it was something so silly. I didn't like the tone in their voice when they said, This. And I just know they were being sarcastic when they said, That. How dare they. How could they. Why don't they just.
It's frustrating and viscous and I hate that I engage as often as I do. How often I have felt that compulsion to get my point across, and just ask me how many times I have come away from the war feeling like I have accomplished something. How many times have I debated to the point that someone has actually seen my point and abandoned their own. How many times have I argued anyone into a better understanding of who I am, what I think, and how the two converged.
Ask me, how many times I have pulled someone through the mud and improved their life in the process.
The answer, to all of the above, is zero.
In fact, when I think about the conversations I have had in my life that have had the greatest impact—on both me and the other person—they all have one thing in common: peace.
I was at peace. They were at peace.
My agenda was left at the curb, my defense was on break, and my mind was open. It has been the conversations I approached not with an attitude of, "What can I bring to this," but rather, "What can I gain." Those were the productive moments. And they weren't conversations that were sparked out of disagreement or offense, but just two people sitting down with a desire to learn one another. And these were the moments that left me feeling stronger.
Of course they stung a little. That happens. Anytime we let ourselves get away from our comfort zones and we dare to be stretched, it's awkward and uncomfortable. But it is both of those things in the very best way.
So why do I do so little of the productive, and so much of the other? I can't figure this out. Not of myself or of anyone else. When I am sitting alongside my husband in our little house, feeling so at ease, it's in those moments that I vow to never again pick up that rope. It seems so silly then. And now, as I write this and lay it out so simply and clearly. I feel like I can forever avoid the whole thing. I have nothing to prove, there is nothing worth arguing, there is no situation that ever demands such ferocity that my face will turn red and I will scream with clenched fists at another human being, even if my own certainty demands that I am right. I don't need that in my life.
But I know it will happen again. I'm not perfect, and I will again struggle against that meekness I so wish I had. Maybe I'll get it someday, but for now I'm going to celebrate the baby steps. When I don't turn into a rage monster over someone's Facebook status, and I don't fly off the handle when someone digs at my political opinions. I will consider it a success if I can make it through one day at a time without engaging in the unecessary. And
I don't really know why I'm writing this, since I never blog anymore. But my house is quiet, my mood is peaceful, and I guess I just had something to say. And really, I can't think of a better motive to write than that I just wanted to.
That is all.