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.