Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Restraint

I've been thinking a lot lately about restraint. Maybe it's because MLK Day is approaching, and King's peaceful approach to political resistance epitomizes restraint.

Having a child has forced me to consider, with a cringe of embarrassment, all of the times that older, wiser people kept their mouths shut while I yammered on about something I was certain was gospel truth. In my arrogance I mistook their silence as passive, wondrous receptivity. Never did it occur to me that someone might be thinking, what a fool... ah, well, such is youth... she shall see. Worse, never did I realize that their silence was merciful, and that I might have had reason to be grateful for their kindness. Sometimes it takes years to realize the extent of people's kindness. Remember back when...? I was such an ass. Thank you for not crucifying me.

A member of my extended family (okay, it's my sister-in-law) thinks restraint is evidence of cowardice. She thinks her tendency toward hostile verbal incontinence makes her a thrilling, dynamic person. I fantasize about explaining to her, after (to quote Chris Rock) shaking the shit out of her, that the surest evidence of maturity, of having evolved as a human being, is restraint.

Restraint doesn't mean inaction. Campaigning for social change, but doing so nonviolently, as MLK and Ghandi did, demonstrates great restraint. In the ordinary-life sphere, actions like holding your tongue and just being there for a grieving friend; or going to bed when you know you need sleep, instead of staying up all night; or giving up on the need to have the last word in an argument, all demonstrate restraint. Allowing your mentally ill adult daughter to make some of her own life decisions, as one of my friends is doing, demonstrates Herculean restraint.

I have been practicing restraint regularly since my daughter was born. It's a big deal to know that you're in charge of writing someone's autobiography until the day she can assume authorship herself. Every word I say matters. Every emotional outburst matters. For the first time I'm aware of the power of my words to make or break someone else's view of herself (worthy of love?) and her home (safe?). Hence: lots and lots of restraint. And good practice for when she's a teenager, or so I hear.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how you see it as writing her autobiography. What a beautiful way to think of it. I will keep that saying in mind as I write one for my own children...and continue practicing restraint.:)

7:47 PM, January 04, 2008  
Blogger mireille said...

Wise post.

So much of our lives, we don't know what we don't know ... and yet, we hold forth.

Good for you, K.

xoxo

7:56 PM, January 05, 2008  
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

Beautiful post. So true.
I do believe in taking action when you feel passionate about something. TAKE ACTION do not sit and yammer on. That does not make you exciting or smart, it makes you obnoxious in my humble opinion.

As I get older I see restraint as a more attractive thing. Two of my high school friends and I were just talking about talking less, listening more and doing more philanthropic work. I guess that makes us...well, for lack of better word--older. Maybe a little wiser.

That being said, I am a HUGE fan of communtcation. So many times restraint is confused with silent brooding.

Hugs.

10:29 AM, January 06, 2008  
Blogger KrashtieC said...

Krash-

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." Proverbs 17:27-28

Hey! That sounds like your post! ;-)


Holding my tongue is a huge challenge at times with bringing up three daughters. The First-born-Mom-First-born-Daughter relationship/syndrome can be especially challenging. I overreact. She is overly sensitive. I have high expectations and she lives up to them (except with attitude). *Sigh* I'm too hard on her at times and I lie awake at night thinking about it. She is soooo emotional at 8 yrs old and I am scared to think what things will be like in 4 years. Uggghh. I pray for wisdom every day and apologize when I make mistakes.

May the Lord grant us *all* wisdom in bringing up our children! And you are a saint for practicing so much restraint with your sis-in-law!

Happy New Year!

3:24 PM, January 07, 2008  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Krashtie -- I can only imagine how challenging maintaining restraint must be with THREE. You impress me hugely (as always). :-)

3:56 PM, January 07, 2008  
Blogger KrashtieC said...

Ditto. Right back at you! No, no, NO - *You* are the one doing all the hugely impressive stuff with your life! :-) xoxo

8:43 PM, January 07, 2008  
Anonymous violetnoir said...

Yep...You're right on it, babe!

Thank you for this thoughtful and wise post.

Hugs!

2:14 PM, January 08, 2008  
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