Anyway, the point is that I admire this woman's environmental choices and that's why I read her blog--to see examples of low-impact living in action. I tend to skim or skip the churchy stuff, for many reasons I probably don't need to detail here, since you know me (sort of. I can get into this more another time, maybe). Today's churchy stuff was, however, timely, as I have been thinking more and more about the ways in which my words and/or actions fall short and/or hurt people. Welcome, therefore, to the only blog entry in which I will ever quote the Bible (probably), from James 3:
For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies. Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs. So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies.There are a few personality issues I have struggled with my whole life. Big number one is seeming cold or aloof, which has a lot more to do with not being immediately at ease in new situations than with any basic deficit in my affections. With some people I am able to skip over the aloof stage because they bring out my more extroverted side, and with other people, getting past that is a process that usually involves some moment in which they realize I am actually a softie and not scary at all. But I can be intimidating and in some cases, I will admit, I kind of relish that, which isn't cool. It's one thing to be strong and self-possessed and quite another to maintain a lofty distance between yourself and the people around you. It's something I don't think I do at all in my teaching life, and I don't know if that's because the roles are more clear-cut there, or because teaching is what I really feel comfortable doing. It allows me to go ahead and be an expert, to have the upper hand by definition, while also being encouraging and supportive and friendly and getting to know people on their own terms. Hm. Something else to think about.
And the whole idea of choosing words carefully, or mastering your own mouth, is something that I've carried with me for many years. I used to be exponentially more sarcastic and cutting than I am now, and as I have gotten older I've mellowed out (at least in that respect). The words and the wit are still there; I just try not to use them to make people feel stupid, knowing as I do that self-aggrandizement via verbal superiority basically just makes me an asshole. If I have to talk about something difficult with someone, I think very hard, in advance, about what I'm going to say in order to be clear and honest. But who is good at this in the heat of the moment? Not many people, I would wager, and not I.
Damn, you know who else can't govern his mouth? This cat. If he's not biting my legs to get attention, he's meowing his head off because he's too lazy to jump his own furry ass into my lap. He wants me to pick him up. Again.
Anyway. I may never be a natural about putting people at ease, or radiating goodwill (though I am a genius about shopping there), or just letting things drop when my hackles are up, or not getting my stupid hackles up in the first place. But I do think it's important to try. I have lots of big personality and life stuff on my mind these days, like for example about how long it has taken me to grow up, but that's for another post.
In other news, I have parlayed my sometime office job into an actual job, so 30 hours of my work week is now far more structured, as is 75% of my income. Trust me, this can only be a good thing.