Monday, August 01, 2005

The Birds Flew Away

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In the past I've written about how conscious of "lashon harah" we were in our home, growing up. My parents' favorite analogy was: "Words are like birds. Once they're out, they fly away and you can't always retrieve them."

I had a close girlfriend call me today, ask if I had a few minutes to speak, and something in her tone made me suspicious. And rightfully so. She was not calling just for an idle chitchat -- we'd had all last Shabbos afternoon to do that. She was calling to make me aware that I had hurt her feelings this past Shabbos with something I said, and that I have a bad habit of bringing something in her life to the forefront.

I wasn't shocked at what she told me; I was aware on Saturday that I made a comment in a joking manner that, once it was out of my mouth, I had a sense of what it must've sounded like, and couldn't really backpedal. I wasn't shocked, I was hurt...not at her announcement, but at the fact that I had hurt someone close to me and unintentionally.

I told my friend that I was thankful she'd told me my shortcoming; that was the only way that I was to learn how to improve myself and be aware of her sensitivity about the issue. I know people who bear their grievances silently for years; at some point in time there is a major outburst and all the grievances of years gone by come tumbling forth. That is certainly not the way to handle matters, but matters have to be dealt with at hand, or with just a small passage of time, perhaps to think through the approach "the victim" wants to take in order to make their grievances known.

My friend thanked me for being so accepting of what she had to tell me, but I said to her, "Why should I have been anything but? There is nothing for me to be defensive about. I thank you that you told me."

I told her my self-improvement in this area will not happen overnight, even if I try hard enough. I let her know that she can slap my wrist, so to speak, if I say something again that bothers her.

Being honest is sometimes a chance people take, and being on the receiving end of honesty isn't always what one wants to hear...but sometimes it's the only way they CAN HEAR.

6 comments:

JC said...

You are a wise one. I am sure that you are a wonderful friend. I like the saying about the birds....it is a different spin on one of mine.

TenLiKoach said...

Pearl,
You are a very caring person and it's a obvious that your heart feels so many. It takes a big person to actually welcome criticism from a friend. Your desire to nuture friendships is way bigger than your ego :)

One of the things I remember from my years of Jewish Day school is a old story (maybe from the Talmud?) that shows an analogy of the effects of Lashon Hara. It tells of a person going on top of a mountain with a bag of feathers - when he reaches the summit, he releases the feathers, which fly every which way. He is then told to try to capture each of these feathers. I guess they were trying to keep up from talking too much in general, but I got the hint :)

Have a great day!

TenLiKoach said...
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Air Time said...

Pearl - In Modonna's Mr Peabodys Apple (I know how much you love those Madonna children's books) she modernizes a hassidic tale where a child regrets ruining someone's reputation. He apologizes to the older man (his baseball coach, i think) who he spread a story about. The older man tells him to meet him at the field with a pillow. At the field, he cuts open the pillow, and says shakes the feathers into the wind. He then tells the kid to collect all the feathers that are now flying all over the field. His point being that words fly away and you can't get them back.

torontopearl said...

"think before you speak" is a common refrain taught by parents and educators.

i guess now we should reword that to "think of feathers before you speak."

thank you all for your comments.

air time, i'm sorry that madonna didn't collaborate with me on that book; i might've taught her a thing or two.

Golda Libermann said...

For years since childhood when we get used to hearing the same thing again and again whether it is true or not but just because others self-proclaimed wise ones have been telling so, and suddenly when one comes across an information that is totally different from what has been told all along, one's mind becomes full of thoughts and confusion. Was Judas really a traitor? Share your thoughts by posting in www.ithysaviour.blogspot.com