Monday, July 08, 2013

Plenty Of Opinion

"If Angelina Jolie was here right now I'd punch her in the face. Who is she, with all her money, to parade around what she did?"

I'm a bit startled by the aggressiveness of her tone. We're strangers sitting together at a friend's anniversary celebration. The happenstance of place cards set across the table from one another. When the topic of breast cancer came up this is what she said to me. Lord have mercy.

I sat there and thought about Ms. Jolie's mother and aunt who died from cancer. I thought about when my geneticist said I would have had cancer again had my BRCA 1 & 2 test came back positive. I thought about the worry that Angelina might have experienced waiting for her test results and then the stress of trying to decide what to do.

I thought about how we are in situations where we have no life experience but plenty of opinion. That about sums up most of my life so I am guilty of it as well. It wasn't until I realized that my opinion was just that, an opinion, not fact, that I stopped trying to shove what I thought down other people's throats. It`s a vulnerable feeling to hold my beliefs in an open palm instead of clutched tight to my chest.

For many years I walked away from conversations thinking the other person was so stupid for thinking the way they did and patting myself on the back for showing them the error of their thinking. I wrote letters to friends and family telling them exactly what I thought of their behaviour, too. Lord have mercy.

Dearest One had no idea of this side of me until after we were married. Five days afterwards to be exact. Squirreled away in a hotel room with a bunch of other people, trying to empty a Texas mickey I asked a travelling salesman if he cheated on his wife while he was away from home. It wouldn't have mattered what he'd answered, I wouldn't have believed him because I was so sure I was right about everything, even the behaviour of strangers I'd just met.

I'm only thinking about this in retrospect of that conversation about Angelina Jolie. Up until I started typing this post I was still sitting in judgement of her. I still want to sit in judgement of her. But I need to remember I've been just like her -probably worse -  and am still capable of it, too. I want to think I am better because I practice restraint of tongue and pen. Most of the time. That`s the catch though, isn't it. Funny how I want to let myself off the hook for behaviour I see in others and condemn them for harshly. Well, not funny at all. Lord have mercy.

I told her that I thought Angelina brought an awareness to the disease that was good. I didn't apologize for having an opposite opinion nor did I get angry and snippy in voicing it. I just stated how I saw it and left it at that. I had a moment of feeling uncomfortable but it passed. Then she had a moment of feeling uncomfortable when I didn't back down and it passed. When we started talking again it was about other, less volatile, subjects.


Jim said...

You have looked at humanity "right in the eyes here", but I'm thinking it doesn't stop with mere conversation. How often do I find myself on the expressway or any of these roads in my neck of the woods and another driver does something "stupid", my immediate reaction some comment about his or her actions and then admitting how, at some time or other, I've done the same thing....

Daisy said...

That's some very clear-headed thinking, if you ask me. Good reminder that helps keep us humble.