BOOK & BLOG
March 18, 2009
Books of the Week:
This past week I read a lot of books by people I’ve already mentioned so often that another review seems redundant. I read another Duane Swierczynski, another Carrie Vaughan, and another Miss Read. Yes, I still like all those authors.
Working with other people is not my thing, as I’ve mentioned often in this blog. During my yearly Lenten stints of working with a large group, I’ve come to realize that I both enjoy the experience and learn from it; but it exhausts me. I do like having casual conversations with men and women I seldom see during the course of the year, and it’s fun to catch up on everyone’s news.
I don’t enjoy the occasional small conflicts, or the constant need to be tactful. I’ve learned to think before I speak, but it’s not natural to me. That’s definitely a learned behavior.
What’s even harder is to just say NOTHING. I envy people for whom silence comes naturally, people who have always known not saying anything is a viable option. I think I was in my twenties before I understood that I do not have to answer every question someone asks me. It was a revelation.
Here’s the deal; in my world, my writing world, I control everything. No one talks back to me, or argues with me or tells me I was an idiot to not be able to manage coping with some problem. (Not that anyone I know calls me that; but I do get some major eye-rolling from my nearest and dearest.)
When I make one of my forays into the real world, I’m not that God-like being any more. People disagree with me all the time, or I come to realize they would not be happy if they heard my true opinion. I try to keep some of those opinions to myself, in the interest of harmony. But here’s one of my opinions: there’s very little point in arguing over an abstract issue with someone. When do these arguments work? Have you ever been persuaded to vote for a different candidate in a presidential election because someone at the office water-cooler said he was voting for that candidate? Have you ever abandoned your conclusions on capital punishment because your cab driver/ hairdresser/ mother of your child’s best friend told you her opinion on that issue? I don’t think so.
It’s the smaller issues that get settled by arguing: Shall we get a new car, or make the old one last another year? Should we ground our child, or take away her cell phone? Should we visit your parents, or mine?
Argument and conflict are a necessary part of life, no matter how unpleasant and nerve-jangling they may be. I am the kind of person who will walk all the way around a very long wall to avoid scaling it, so maybe I’m not the best person to give advice on living with disagreements. I only know the way I have to handle it. And that’s to make an heroic attempt to keep my mouth shut until I feel sure what I want to say. If I don’t follow this guideline, I’m always sorry.
Here’s the most important point. “I’m sorry,” are two of the most important words in our language. Said quickly and often, they turn away a world of hurt.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris