I’m Reminding You of This Because I Love You

Dear Readers, 

I know it’s spectacularly unpopular to quote those crazy Middle Easterners in this day and age, but y’all have me thinking of Gibran.

You remember his wise words about children?

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

My friends, it’s best if you think of ideas this way as well.

Your ideas are not you.

I know it’s hard to accept this, especially when you can so deftly wrap yourself in words carefully chosen, and let that package go into the world bearing a bit of your soul.

But that’s not you.  Those are just some ideas you have and that you’ve shared.  They are special and precious but they are not you.

Which brings me to my next point.

Why do we share ideas?

I mean, specifically, why do we share ideas here at Tiny Cat Pants?

To stimulate interesting discussions.

Look, I write shit all the time and I can bet you that half the time NM or Bridgett or Exador or Sarcastro is going to step in and say, “I think you’re off the mark.  Did you consider this?” and I have to admit that I didn’t or I didn’t even know about it.

Does that mean that folks who disagree with my ideas don’t like me as a person?  No it does not.

What, then, is a successful interaction?  When you have furthered the conversation.  If the conversation halts, you have failed to have a successful interaction.

But, if you say something and the conversation keeps going?  If someone jumps in and wants to argue with what you’ve said?  If they want to pick it apart and look at the nuance?

Hello, readers, listen: that is a tremendous compliment.  People’s time and their thoughts are valuable.  If they turn their time and attention to you, it is because they see something valuable there, something worth discussing, something of worth.

Is it hard to be that open to scrutiny?  Yes, it is and, if you’ve not put enough distance between yourself and your ideas, it can feel like a deeply personal attack.  But, I implore you to see it as the compliment it is.

So, to recap:

No one is attacking you as a person; they are discussing your ideas, which are not you, and once they’re out there in the world, only tenuously belong to you.  The fact that people are engaged with your ideas, no matter how weird it feels to have your ideas under that kind of scrutiny, is not anything other than a great compliment.

You will be happier here and happier in the world if you come to accept that.

Love,

Aunt B.

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6 thoughts on “I’m Reminding You of This Because I Love You

  1. I absolutely agree! I don’t understand people who ARGUE just to prove that they’re more intelligent thAn you. what’s more important than being CORRECT/PROVEN RIGHT is achieveing resolution, knowing each other’s perspective and agreeing to disagree.

    It is always great to converse/argue with people who have a sense of humor and who aren’t intellectually arrogant all the time.

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  3. So true. But there are a few people I wouldn’t mind attacking “as a person” just so they can understand the difference. And believe me, if the attack becomes personal, they *will* understand the difference (otherwise I’m not doing it correctly).

    I know someone who’s almost completely opposite me on every issue, but we’re still friends and can have intelligent, rational, respectful conversations. Why should it be that I feel the need to point her out as some kind of anomaly? “She’s an evangelical Christian Republican… but you can talk to her!!!” Of course, there are just as many nutjobs on my side too. I’m an asshole, but I at least try to be an asshole with manners.

  4. Let me just start by saying: I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!! I’m so glad you moved over to WordPress, too, because it makes it easier for me to comment and stuff.

    This post moved me deeply, first the Gibran excerpt — which is heartbreakingly beautiful — then your pithy observations on human interaction. How did you get so very wise, Aunt B.? I know not how your wisdom came about, yet I am heartily glad for its existence.

  5. I love me some Prophet. I thought I quoted him here once before, but google wasn’t being too kind to me, so I gave up looking.

    I just wanted to add this to that. You can be good, loving, and wonderful and still say, do, or think things that are prejudiced or hurtful. Getting called on doing, saying, or thinking something prejudicial or hurtful doesn’t mean you are (being called) a bad person. You are more than just those things, but you are responsible for them nonetheless.

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