One of my favorite Christmas movies is Christmas in Connecticut. In it, Uncle Felix, a rotund Hungarian chef, steals the show. He is part of the plot to make his friend, played by Barbara Stanwyck, appear to be a Martha Stewart type character to keep her job as a magazine columnist when in real life she can't cook or do anything even loosely connected with housekeeping. When her wedding is about to take place, Felix, who is a good friend of the bride, is asked by the judge if he will give the bride away. Felix, who is frequently confused by American/English idioms, replies, "I don't give nobody avay. Alvays I keep my mouth shut."
Sometimes people ask me why I bother blogging. I'm not specialized enough to have a bunch of people interested in what I say (e.g., don't write about sewing or cooking or specialized hobbies), yet I still write every week or two. My answer is that I mainly write for introspection, because it is only when I put things down that I realize what my priorities are and what problems I need to work on. The only other reason is my grandkids. I won't be on this earth forever, and I certainly can't assume I will still be here when my grandchildren are grown with the their own families (a situation my Mom enjoys), so I hope this blog serves as a window for my grandkids into their Grammy's mind and heart. Maybe they can learn some life lessons from my mistakes and successes.
So here's my life lesson for this Christmas Eve: "Don't give nobody avay. Alvays keep your mouth shut."
Knowing when to just keep your mouth shut has to be one of the hardest lessons in life to learn. Kids today grow up with rewind buttons everywhere, and the sooner they realize there is no rewind button for life, the better. You'd think folks my age, born in the '50s without rewind buttons, would have easily assimilated that fact, but no. I can speak from personal experience. I speak, then I think. Unfortunately, that's backwards, but hey, sometimes I'm a stubborn student.
There's an old story about a spiritual teacher who had his students roll all sizes of stones around a big area. Then he asked then to go gather every stone and bring each one back. It took a little time, but they did this with no problem. Then he gave them feathers, and asked them to scatter the feathers and bring them back. As you can imagine, the wind carried those feathers miles and miles all over the place. They came back to the teacher in frustration, saying, "Master - the feathers have dispersed over miles; there is no way we can gather every one of them and bring them back to you." The wise teacher said, "And that is how it is with words. Once you say them, they are scattered forever and you can never take them back."
Throughout my life, I've said hurtful things on purpose. I've said hurtful things by accident. I've talked about people in a negative way to others. I've said things that should have been left unsaid. When I felt accused, I've talked back defensively by reminding others that they're as sloppy/hurtful/inept/forgetful as I am. I've offended, wounded, and distressed both people I am only acquainted with and people I dearly love. It breaks my heart at times and fills me with awful regret.
Of course, my husband Ed has this fault, too. I'm constantly berating him, "Why did you SAY that?!!" and many times he will reply, "I know. As soon as it left my mouth I asked myself the same question." Ed also has taught me that the bad habits/transgressions that irritate us about others are a mirror into what we hate about ourselves. I know when I get upset with him that down deep I am just upset with myself for harboring the same problem.
It only takes a moment to filter words in your brain before they are said out loud. One of my New Year's resolutions is to be careful with words - once they are gone, I can't bring them back.
I wish everyone the blessings of Christmas and the New Year. Live life in 2012 with the assurance that you don't need a rewind button, and watch those feathers. They're light and buoyant and can be gone in an instant.