Monday, January 20, 2014

Don't Take Yourself too Seriously

I still remember a long ago New Year's Eve. I was working alone in my office after most of the rest of the world had already gone home, and I was just finishing a few things before going out into the last night of the year.

I don't remember anymore what it was that I was so annoyed about, only that I was, at something that I was about to respond to by email. Suddenly, as I was about to press "send," I stopped, my finger poised over the mouse. Did I want the first thing someone read in the New Year to be a snitty email from me? Did I really want to leave behind a toxic trail from one year into the next?

Whatever I was so miffed about, suddenly didn't matter so much. I remembered something I'd heard somewhere--something about leaving behind a wake--or maybe it was about leaving fingerprints on people's lives! Anyway, I realized that just on the off chance that I might never be seen or heard from again I didn't want the last thing I did, to be unkind, even if it felt in that moment, justified.

I realized that I had gotten all tied up in a knot over something that really didn't matter and it involved taking myself way too seriously.

So I shook off the silliness, deleted whatever self righteousness was staring at me from the screen, turned off the computer and went home.

It wasn't the last time I climbed onto a high horse and had to get off, but I have learned to hear the neighing as one approaches and run in the opposite direction!

A point can be made without righteous indignation, sharpness, harshness or unkindness. Sometimes, oh this is the true Exclamation Mark I think, the point is "got" quite quickly by the other person. And there are times it doesn't need to be made at all, particularly if it just has to do with "me."

Someone once said to me that they wanted to leave every room better than when they walked into it. It was a person much younger than me who said it, but I stored it away as a gem of wisdom. I realize that it doesn't really matter how clever you are--people won't remember that about you as much as how pleasant it was to spend time with you--whether you were kind--and that you added some laughter and lightness to their day.


Brave Raven said...

The TLC channel years back had an ad campaign that said "Merlot and email don't mix." That was meant to be funny but it stuck with me. Sometimes our emotions have a way of distorting things and my emails have many times benefitted from "sober second thought." I'm a non-drinker but the sentiment applies well to us who are passionate about using words. We need to remember to always use our powers for good and not evil. :) And emoticons help. ;)

Belinda Burston said...

Dear Brave Raven, the TLC ad campaign had wisdom! And how true that our emotions distort things--and "sober second thought," or saving an email written with emotion as a draft--even for a few minutes, but better still a few hours, can help me see the words with different eyes. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!