In kindergarten my PE teacher, the incredible Mr. Pitts, once gave a chapel talk that to this day I will never forget. He had a student come in front of everyone and asked her to squeeze the toothpaste out of a tube of toothpaste. After she had squeezed out the toothpaste he told her simply, “Now put the toothpaste back into the tube.” She of course couldn’t. This he taught us is how our words work. Once we’ve said something, there is no way to take it back.
It’s a simple concept really but one I feel we have quickly forgotten. This famous chapel talk of course happened in 1994? 1995? But today at work I found myself thinking how this lesson is even more relevant today. With the internet, particularly social media platforms (which I love don’t get me wrong, it is my job after all), today people are quick to spread hateful and hurtful words with increasing anonymity and little repercussion. Today I found myself reading so many nasty comments that clearly crossed a line of decency about an institution that has given me so much. I agree that every person is entitled to his or her opinion, but I urge people to express those opinions in a rational, respectful way.
I know I have spread my fair share of nastiness and it’s no secret that I have the mouth of a sailor, but I have discovered that as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser Mr. Pitts’ lesson continues to mean more and more to me. Why use hurtful words when you can share the same message in a different way.
I so want to dwell on this. I want to read all the hatefulness and let it take over my night, but I’m trying to remember that other people’s feelings and comments are out of my control. What is in my control? At least one of these bottles of wine, my Runner’s World December issue, and a night of relaxation and detox after what has proven to be quite the toxic day. Here’s to letting go.
Think on your words. I will continue to think on mine.
P.S. In the spirit of this post’s title. A little Britney to make this night a little better.