I know that most of my blog entries are about life-giving adventures, the kind that we want to undertake. And, that’s as it should be. We should focus on things in life that we want to achieve. We only go around once; we should make the best of it. Sometimes, however, there are other risky adventures we should undertake, ones that make us uncomfortable. These are emotional risks. Funny how some people find it easier to jump out of a plane than to say something important to a loved one.
Earlier today, I was sitting in my office doing some work and listening to a playlist of John Mayer songs I put together for a friend who had never heard of him. (I promise that my friend does not live in a cave in Afghanistan.) At any rate, as the songs were on in the background, “Say” came on and I got choked up…again. That song gets me every time. I suppose it’s because I so heartily believe in the song’s message: “You better know that in the end it’s better to say too much than never to say what you need to say again.” This is my mantra. I’d rather say a bit too much than to say nothing and risk regret.
Now, this is not to imply that it’s easy for me to do this. It isn’t. I struggle with the spoken word constantly. I speak in fits and starts because I am keenly aware of how razor sharp words can be and how quickly they can inflict seemingly irrevocable damage. I’ve spent my lifetime crafting written words because I can control them. This is why I prefer texting or emails to phone calls. I can go back and edit. I can rearrange my thoughts, cut the parts that might be misconstrued, and carve my words into a clear and concise communication. And then, when I feel I have drafted a genuine and appropriate message, I can hit Send with confidence. It’s all so tidy.
But, let’s face it. Life isn’t tidy, and it rarely gives us the opportunity to design perfect messages in difficult situations. Sometimes words attack us, and even those words precisely chosen can strike a chord we don’t appreciate. Then, instead of taking the time to recognize our true feelings of hurt, we lash out with anger and confusion. Sometimes we even take it so far as to sever a relationship rather than putting ourselves out there again to explain our point of view and work towards a solution. Sometimes we think we can’t handle any further pain, so we send something that was entirely fixable off to the relationship scrapyard and move on.
While I understand it’s in our nature to avoid pain, I sometimes wish we were more brave. I think that the best relationships are the not the ones that are never tested but are the ones that are tested time and time again and survive. To have relationships like that, though, we have to be willing to take emotional risks and go on adventures of temporary discomfort. We need to take the time to say what we need to say, and we have to afford other people their chance to express themselves while keeping our mind open and our mouth shut. It’s know it’s scary, but avoiding emotional pain is tantamount to avoiding life. It’s no way to live.
It’s much easier complain than it is to compliment or to be sarcastic than it is to share. But, if we don’t put ourselves out on that proverbial ledge occasionally and go on an emotional adventure, we risk everything. The lyrics to that John Mayer song are always with me. As stressful as it is for me to open up my heart, I don’t ever want to find myself in a situation where I regret not having told someone how much they meant to me. Life is fleeting. Don’t waste a minute of it being too proud or too fearful to say something genuine to someone you care about. They might reject it and you might get hurt but, then again, they might not and it might be the best risk you ever took.
“Even if your hands are shaking and your faith is broken, even as the eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open…say what you need to say.”