Out of Your Mouth, Printed

My dad always told me this, since apparently I had a big mouth. Watch what you say, he admonished me, because once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.

Even moreso today with posts and tweets and blogs living forever online, even if we take them down.

It means, think before you speak (or tweet), consider the outcomes, the consequences, the long-term effects of whatever you’re about to do. Doesn’t seem so hard, does it? But apparently it is, especially when we get emotional or heated.

When we feel threatened, judged, under the microscope, we are quick to reply. But what’s the harm in waiting? In thinking? In seeing if 5 minutes later – or a day later – the same retort is really necessary?

Time is such a gift. When we slow down and consider, let things rest a bit or as my high school teacher Mr. Gearheart used to say, let it get cold, we end up doing right.

I have a friend, Catherine, from Ireland, who’s lived in London for the past 20 years. We met in 1993 and began a letter-writing campaign that has not ended. Even today, with the quickness of email and Facebook and other ways of connecting, we stick to our handwritten letters.

That means I get a card from Catherine maybe 3 or 4 times a year. I have one sitting on my desk from before Christmas that still needs a reply from me. It takes time to write by hand, to think of what we want to say, to do it right.

But the end result is so beautiful. I love seeing her lilting script and know she took ten minutes, maybe longer, to sit down and find a card and write a note to me to tell me about her family and her life. It was time she could have spent doing something else but she gave it as a gift to me.

Time is the ultimate gift and the ultimate loss. Every time we waste it, we are arrogant, thinking we know better, can live forever. Every time we appreciate and cherish the moments, and stay IN this moment rather than racing ahead to the next 25, we are wise.

Which one can we be today?

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