I am a self employed painter and I work by myself often. My contact with people has severely diminished over the last few weeks, during this virus sequester. One result for me has been that when I am presented with the opportunity to have a conversation with someone I am aware of the power of my words. Every time I talk to an individual pair of eyes, I see, within that moment, how, what I say has an immediate effect on their emotional state.
Not that I didn’t know it before this particular set of circumstances. The last 5 years or so has involved several breakups, heartbreaks and breakdowns for me. I ushered in many changes in my life and many people were hurt, including me. I do not regret the path that I traveled. It was necessary, and so many good things have evolved along the way.
However, on so many occasions I so wish I had paused within my emotional reactions long enough to use different words and different tones. The road to hell truly is paved with good intentions, because intention is meaningless if your tongue is forked and dripping with poison. Memories of the harsh things I have said, as well as harsh things others have said to me, haunt me regularly in the ghostly haze of gossamer morning curtains.
It is hard not to let the burns of life turn the taste of your own tongue bitter. I struggle with it often and I am still learning. I have a temper. I am overly sensitive. I reflect on the mismanagement of my words and reactions on a regular basis. I realize this sounds very self critical. It is. I am reminded of the hypocrisy of being human on a daily basis. I am also aware that relationships are a two way street and that I am not responsible for the other half’s reactions and emotions.
But the last few weeks of taking stock of what is truly important and how scarce and precious the time we have with each other really is, I am reminded of this very important question yet again. I have been asking myself this question for, shit, my whole life really, but the universe has saturated the last several years with it.
How do we take the time before we speak to think about the effects of what we are about to say? How do we pause, and feel our words with our hearts, before they pass through clenched teeth, so we may know how they might feel to the impending receiver? It’s not the witty, funny or entertaining thing to do. It might not get you invited to the party, elected or proposed to. But it might alleviate the ache of rewriting your conversations, retrospectively in your mind for years, or the incessant need to apologize or ask for forgiveness, or the lingering regret of soft things that were not said because our mouth was too full of rocks. Those rocks become unbearably heavy if the people you love are no longer there to help you spit them out.
So spit them out. Take stock of your rocks. Count your blessings...and at the very least, take a moment.