So here it is, the pristine new morning of a pristine new year. (Wouldn’t it be nice if that particular illusion were true.) I do find meaning in new beginnings, beginner’s mind, and such concepts … however I don’t go so far as to think they erase the past. No, that’s with me always – and hopefully functions as a touchstone and anchor, but not as a millstone or weighty set of shackles!
This pristine morning as I groggily chatted and downed my first coffee I ran smack dab into a wee bit sarcasm and felt pierced by it. It was nothing major – as I said, a wee bit – but the experience made me think about how sarcastic my humor typically is – and how it can hurt to be on the receiving end of it. I marked the moment, this morning, and added to my list for 2008, the resolve to work to be more aware of (and less generous with) my sarcasm.
I remember visiting a friend and her family some years ago, and hearing her husband make a side comment about their daughter that took my breath away. It was nothing horrible … and was meant to be humorous, I’m sure. It was the kind of sarcastic aside that is our daily fare, in many ways, and certainly a staple for him. His remark was conveyed lightly, in a tone that was warm and almost affectionate on the surface. But the content was so cutting that I remember it brought me up short at the time. How confusing for a kid! It was the sort of comment that would lodge corrosively in a child’s psyche without her knowing it. If she were lucky, it might be exorcised years later in therapy – but not before it had sapped her confidence and eroded her self image for years … in those subtle but debilitating ways that such things do.
People nearly always laugh when I make my sarcastic remarks … but a few will take the risk to get back to me and point out that something I said as a “joke” was actually hurtful … actually not that funny. I have worked, over the years, to be more aware – but it’s a very ingrained habit. It’s a way I get attention (making people laugh) and also a way I think I sometimes express my own insecurity and/or anger. Definitely, when I’m feeling angry or “off” I’m much more likely to be sarcastic … so I need to keep working away at it – and working, too, to be open to hearing honest feedback when it comes.
Here’s to 2008 … and to living my life the best way I know how!