A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

12 February 2013


Today's rumination is perhaps a bit more personal in nature than many.  AND* I think the topic is quite relevant in a range of situations, from the very personal to the very public.  Humans communicate with each other (whether well or poorly) in every situation that involves humans.  And this is about that.

Over the weekend, a friend of mine said something I found quite hurtful.  This person being my friend, they undoubtedly did not mean to hurt me with their words (pardon the deliberate grammatical error; I prefer to leave the gender of the person in question unspecified, and English stubbornly refuses to permit this).  Nevertheless, there I was, hurt.

Reflecting later on the hows and wherefores of my hurting, I did what I imagine most people do -- reviewed in my head a long litany of other missteps by this and other friends, and all the slings and arrows I have suffered over my long and pitiable life.

In the process, I noticed something important.  I noticed that my memory also included more than a few occasions when I had myself said or done something hurtful to someone else -- and some of those occasions bore an uncanny resemblance to the occasion that happened to me over the weekend.  I realized that my friend's clumsy (and hurtful) comment was in some sense a mirror -- a thing that, when I looked at it, showed me something about myself that I needed to see.

What do you do when you feel you have been wronged?  My own reactions have run the gamut -- from lashing out to folding in on myself to overanalyzing to, well, blogging about it.  I like to think that here in my wise old age (43, for the curious) I have come to a place where I can find a lesson in every experience, and use it to help me learn what I need to understand about myself and the role I play in any situation that involves me.  I can recognize the flaws in my own character, and allow other people's behavior to inspire me to behave better, without falling into the trap at the other end of the spectrum where I blame myself when someone else is mean to me.

I'm not really looking forward to the conversation in which I hold my friend accountable for the comment.  I recognize, though, that the conversation has to happen.  Handled well, it will make both of us better people -- and even handled poorly, it will be educational.  In any case, if in the future either one of us gives a moment's extra thought before we speak, the mirror will have served its purpose well.

I welcome your stories about "mirror" moments, should you care to share them.

*When I write the word "AND" in all caps, it's usually because I have overcome a strong urge to use the word "but" in an apologetic way when apology is not required or appropriate.  This post is all about the therapy!  :-)