I try not to look back with too many regrets but occasionally I can’t help wishing I could ride a time machine into my past and take back some of my more poisonous words. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing a link between my brain and my mouth. Back in elementary school I would usually bring home a near-perfect report card except for one small area which never seemed small to me. I almost always got an X in a section that said “Refrains from speaking and acting hastily.” I wondered for a long, long time what that meant. I remember asking my mom about it. She told me she thought it meant I talked too much. She’d had some experience with my incessant talking. 🙂 She didn’t know any education jargon so it’s reasonable she would have thought that. I’ve learned since that neither speaking nor acting was the key word here; the important word was hastily.
When I was a child riding a school bus every day, our buses, supposedly for safety reasons, had a governor that kept them from going over a certain speed. I’m thinking my tongue could use one of those. I still blurt out whatever comes into my mind sometimes. I’m glad for some of my blurt-outs but sorry for others. If I’m to be honest here, some of them are probably not so accidental. For me, now, it’s a matter of impulse control. And as an adult I can have pretty good control when I want. But I’m also known for speaking plainly and without sugar-coating my words. I naturally avoid pretense. I’ve always been that way. I think there’s a fine line between being tactful and lying. Always tell the truth! was hammered into my head as far back as I can remember. How does a child always tell the truth without insulting some well-meaning aunt or grandparent? My role models didn’t always hit that target. Their inadequacy further complicated the issue and would probably make for an interesting post at another time.
This post has taken a somewhat different direction than I originally thought it would. (Just like when I’m talking.) I had intended to cite some of my more heinous breaches of polite language. Instead I will close with a word-to-the-wise about my tongue–a reminder, if you will, that I can choose to wound or heal, soothe or agitate, make laugh or make cry. I can choose. That’s the important message. If the pen is mightier than the sword, the tongue is mightier than either.
I will try very hard to speak with a straight tongue. ~ Pat