Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Really Matters

Last weekend, a friend of mine wrote a lengthy post on Facebook inspired by a family illness. Introspective, thought-provoking and poignant, the post stuck with me, prodding me to think about not only him and his family, but about myself as well.

That sounds selfish, I know, but what you're really hearing is appreciation, tinged with a bit of envy. In his heartfelt and contemplative post, my friend did what every writer aims to do when he or she puts pen to paper - to reach out from within his world and touch the life of someone else.

One of the stories he told raised the notion of judgment - how we judge and are judged by others. And it made me think about how much time we - I - spend worrying about what others think. On a cognitive level, we know that in the grand scheme, it really doesn't matter. And yet, brushing those judgments aside and not feeling their impact remains difficult.

We can say we don't care what someone else thinks, but too often that declaration is laced with equal parts bravado and denial. Meanwhile, we go on driving ourselves a little (or a lot) crazy in a neverending quest not to look stupid, clumsy, unattractive or any of a thousand other unflattering adjectives that don't really matter. And worse yet, when we do this, we allow the court of public opinion to subjugate who we really are.

And although Bill's post was much more of a recognition of what really matters than a cautionary tale about judgment, his words echo in my head as I go through my days, coming into contact with people whose opinions matter and those whose opinions don't - or shouldn't. And I realize that I want to focus on what matters in the long run now, and stop wasting time and energy on the things that don't now and certainly won't later. And I realize further that if I could harness all the energy I waste focusing on what everyone else thinks, I could devote that energy to so many more meaningful pursuits.

Thanks, Bill. And my prayers remain with you and your family as you focus on what really matters.


  1. Lisa, good truth, and one hard to put into practice. I don't want to care (for the most part) what people think of me, but sadly, you're right. Most times it's bravado and denial. Still, I strive to attain that position, w/in reason. :)

    My hubby is probably the best example of a person who really doesn't care (seriouly and sincerely) what others think. He is his own person (and God's) and sucessfully portrays it. (At least, that's my opin). Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks for reading! I don't want to care, either...especially when something is no one else's business! One more skill to master as I "grow up"! Bully for your husband!!

  2. I think you hit it square when you said most of the time saying we don't care is a mix of bravado and denial. I have always said I didn't care what people thought. I act on what I think matters. But to be honest, I'm acting and hoping my heart catches up.

  3. What a great way to put it, Heidi - "acting and hoping my heart catches up."

    It's funny, I think I should be old enough that this stuff doesn't matter...but it does. I always told my students' parents that sensitivity is a double-edged sword - the very same part of us that makes us attuned to others is the part that makes us vulnerable. Guess I need to keep that in mind closer to home.

  4. Post script: My friend Bill, who posted the note that inspired this blog, lost his mother over the weekend. She was surrounded by family and fresh air.

    I would appreciate it if you could keep Bill and his family in your thoughts and prayers. My husband reminded me that there's no good time to lose a parent, but I believe that loss at this time of the year is particularly difficult.