When I was in my twenties, I was chock full of opinions. I loved a good discussion about politics and current affairs, but it was a bit of a love-hate relationship; generally if your opinion differed too much from mine and you were daft enough to actually stick to that opinion and not conform to my way of thinking, it kind of drove me crazy. I was young and I knew everything – obviously.
After one particularly heated conversation with a family friend, I was venting to my mother about how irritated I was over the whole thing. She kind of laughed and said that she used to be the same way at my age. She also told me that my older brother also used to be the same way, but “you’ll mellow with age”, she said. I couldn’t believe that this could be true. I was young and I knew everything – obviously.
Fast forward fifteen years. My mother, while she still has her own opinions, is more likely than not to toss her head and urge me to have another glass of wine if I start to get too worked up over something. My brother has mellowed so much he’s practically a Buddhist. Perfect example: my brother was hit by a car while bike riding about a year ago; the driver left him almost unconscious on the side of the road and drove away. It was lucky someone else came by and found him and called 911. Eventually the driver’s father (the driver was a teenaged girl) forced her to come forward. My brother had to practically be forced to testify against her – he believes in only putting good out into the world and really questioned his own role in impacting her life by testifying against her.
This is the exact kind of thing that would have really riled me up in the past. There should be justice! Things should be fair. We all have to face the consequences of our own choices – the girl who hit my brother made a terrible choice, a criminal choice, and she should have to face up to that.
I still feel those things when I think about what he went through. But before I can get too riled up, I also think about my brother’s attitude and how much easier it would be to feel that way.
There is an old saying : “Anger is like acid; it does more damage to the vessel in which it’s stored than to the object on which it’s poured”.
I love that quote and I think about it often. Isn’t it so true? Doesn’t it feel awful inside when we get upset about things which are totally outside of our control?
Not only is it an awful feeling, it’s not nice for the people around us either. And being the loud-mouthed, opinionated one doesn’t make you that many friends.
This doesn’t mean that I no longer believe in standing up for something you think is right, and it definitely doesn’t mean that I don’t have strong opinions anymore! I’m just starting to think more carefully about how I express those opinions, and to whom, and when. And why. There’s another saying about opinions, but I won’t repeat it here in mixed company. It’s true too though. I’ve realized that the world gets along just fine when I keep mine to myself. In fact, it might just be that the world gets along even better.
So (and I know she will be gratified to hear this), after many years of trial and error and learning this little lesson the hard way, it turns out that my mother was right. Obviously.