Something that rattles through my mind sometimes is how nicely we talk about the dead. Morbid I know, but it’s true. The respectfully deceased receive the most beautiful cards and eulogies and people talk about how wonderful they were (even if they weren’t!) and they aren’t there to hear it, in body anyway.
I have been pondering about this a lot recently and as a matter of coincidence, I received an email from a colleague that I rarely see, that I was at an event in Europe with. We spent a lot of time at the event chatting about life and its ins and outs. One of those great hearty conversations that you walk away from feeling a little lighter. The email in question was short and business related, but at the end of it, they wished me well in life because I am an ‘amazing person’. This unprovoked comment sent a shock of pride through me and made me feel a little emotional. It made me realise that I’m actually doing ok at this life thing. Silently, I have had a very trying year and a half and things like this mean more to me than that individual will ever know.
Most of us go through life trying to do our best with the obstacles that it throws at us. Trying to make the right decisions, helping people out where we can, being a good member of society and pushing ourselves to be the best we can be. Some of us have partners, peers or family members that tell us how great we are and this helps to lift us and to help us grow and prosper. Some of us have people who tell us how worthless we are, which makes us shrink, retreat and rot. Some of us having nothing, so we tootle along in somewhat ignorant bliss or even feel hungry for validation. You only need to see the rice experiment on youtube to see how this works!
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
The opinions and validation of our partners, peers, family, colleagues and whomever else we come across are very important to us (whether we admit it or not) and if caught at a certain moment, can make or break who we are. Everyone remembers a time when a simple and sometimes off the cuff comment has stabbed us straight through the heart. A trivial one for me is the memory of being told I had big ears at school. I didn’t wear my hair up again until I was 22 and was mortified if anyone even caught a glimpse of my ears. The person who told me that would have no idea of the impact their throwaway comment had on my life.
Why do we far too often wait until someone has died before we write a lovely dedication to their character and integrity? Especially if it is someone we don’t know so well. Why do we sometimes feel like building others up is inappropriate or embarrassing? I know I have held back from saying nice things so as to not appear foolish.
If you like a stranger’s demeanor – tell them! If you like the way the mother in the shopping centre handled her stressed out toddler – tell them! And of course, tell your friends, family, colleagues and whoever else needs it how amazing they are doing and be specific.
Imagine being on the receiving end of an off the cuff compliment on a day when you just wanted to retreat to your bed. It’s one of life’s glorious free gifts.
I take this opportunity to send out love to all who need it.