Saturday, August 4, 2007

I Don't Know Anything

There's a scene in one of my favorite movies that I watch every Christmas Eve, that comes to my mind quite frequently.

In the original Scrooge starring Alistair Sim, the scene opens when Ebenezer wakes up after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Realizing he has a second chance in life to be a good & charitable man rather than a miserly old coot, he's just so excited he can barely contain himself.

His maid Mrs. Dilber comes in, and here is their conversation:

Mrs. Dilber: Are you all right, Mr. Scrooge?
Ebenezer: I... I don't know. (then he starts to sing and laugh & do a little dance) I don't know anything. I never did know anything. But now I KNOW that I don't know anything!

At which point Mrs. Dilber is completely creeped out by the drastic change in him (remember, he's a snarly old humbug, now suddenly he's Joe Happy?!) and she screams, throws her apron over her head and runs out of the room. I love this scene, and look forward to it every year. It's that little song that Ebenezer Scrooge sings about not knowing anything, that could be the theme song of my life. It comes to mind so often it might as well be.

Yesterday at Kim's blog she wrote

"Why, why, why can I never learn to just be quiet? When I get mad at people, I'm quiet; when I'm upset and unhappy, I'm quiet. When I'm scared I'm quiet. When I'm sick, I'm quiet. What on earth happens to my brain/mouth connections that makes it impossible to be quiet when it is necessary?"

Its comments like that, that kept me going back to read Kim's blog after the first visit. Her and I are so much alike in so many ways, sometimes it's just weird. I could have easily written that myself about me. I'm not always as quiet as I wish I were, but in extreme situations I do indeed clam up. Deeply upset, or afraid, or sick - I just go quiet & think rather than speak or carry on conversations with anyone. But then there are other times when my brain just seems to shove things out of my mouth without the courtesy of asking me first.

This happened the other day when I was in a conversation with a couple of friends. A mutual aquaintance came up and out flew my opinion of a project that this person is working on that I don't think they're qualified to work on. Who cares what I think, and what difference does my opinion matter anyway? Why do I feel like I need to state my opinion in the first place? I don't know - but I know immediately after the conversation I felt bad, as if I had engaged in gossip about the person. I felt bad for several reasons, but the two most important were that a.) if it was indeed gossip then shame on me and b.) I actually like this person and certainly didn't mean to be hurtful at all.

I wasn't malicious in anything I said, and I didn't reveal any kind of private information or anything like that, I just expressed my disagreement with this person's qualifications. Still, it felt like gossip and it made me feel ashamed that I said it in the first place. As much as I detest gossip in any form, there I was feeling like I had just participated in it. Yet another moment in my life where I should be singing Scrooge's "I don't know anything" song. If I had a dollar for every one of those moments, I'd have a LARGE pile of dollars.

I did speak to one of the people in this conversation later on, and they didn't agree it was gossip at all - that didn't really make me feel any better.

I wrote the other day that words matter, but not only do the words we use matter, the motive behind them does too. Along with the attitude we have when we speak them, the intent and the thinking carefully before we use them, that should be common practice. That's pretty easy to do when you're writing because you can backspace, edit, save, proofread, re-edit and make your written piece nice and shiney, and exactly the way you want it. You can't backspace your tongue, and that's always been a wee bit of an issue for me. Less of an issue now than when I was unsaved, or even 10 years ago as a new Christian, but it still remains an issue that grapple with and wish wasn't an issue for me.

I only hope when Kim locates Red Green and his handy roll of duct tape, she sends him up here for me.