Over the last twenty years I’ve managed to create a public persona that quite frankly, has earned me a salty reputation. My children, family and close friends have lived through varying degrees of amusement, embarrassment, and even distress over my fluctuating amounts of outspokenness, opinion, radical honesty, and just plain – talking too much. (And I thank them for their tolerance; I truly do.)
I use the adjective “salty, “ because – it’s not necessarily distasteful, this particular way that I am in the world. At times, people like the intensity and passion of my style. Some profess even to enjoy, admire and aspire to it because it can add flavor and spice to occasions that might otherwise be bland and thoroughly forgettable. On the other hand, too much (of anything) can create imbalance or make things rather unappetizing. And socially, let’s face it, everyone doesn’t always want salt. Sometimes we are only in the mood for sweet, calm, quiet, safe, non-confrontational, ever-positive milk and honey.
With (slow) maturation, I’ve learned and practiced – just a tiny bit – reeling in my outspoken exuberance. There’s a time and a place, right? And, as idiom goes “You can attract more bees with honey than vinegar.”
So, when Reid got sick, it became necessary to make some serious choices about how, what and why to communicate with the people in our lives. Cancer is, for better or worse, an opportunity to practice being one’s best person, and I quickly realized that singularly being salt may not be the best approach.
Thus for the last four months, I’ve been trying to be as publicly strong and positive as possible. “Patience” is the watchword for day to day interactions and exchanges; “Honest” and “Educational” are close runner’s up. The brave face is the one worn out the front door, and if I can’t find it – I stay home and look into the face of my gentle and truly brave son.
When / if (and it’s a big IF) people consider disease, like cancer, it is considered scary, confusing and analogous with dying; dis-ease instills ill-ease. Few want to think about these things, most want to avoid them, no one wants to be ill at ease, and I find no fault in that.
So, while reaching for the salt is no less enticing (because I’m no less passionate that I ever was!), I now stop and consider my choices. These days being a little less colorfully candid and a lot more gentle feels essential and even healing at times. When you look fear in the face and smile, maybe it can inspire courage and hope. Now that’s a reputation to strive for.