What, When and Not
I have a potty mouth. It’s been like that for close to 25 years or more. Sometimes it is worse than others. Some tell me it is in full glory when I am out with my brothers, which is most likely true. I have favorite curses, some that I get a bit too much joy from uttering.
I won’t list them here.
When I was younger, I liked the shock value of certain words and phrases. I found a distorted sense of power in making others uncomfortable. Lucky for those around me, it was a short lived phase. I was rebelling against people and things I felt controlled me through my teens and early 20’s. I wanted to escape from oppressive, pseudo-authority figures who I increasingly felt did not respect me. These were religious, government, educational authorities, some of whom I previously respected. I was not very rebellious in my teens, and took it upon myself to stretch my boundaries a bit. Most of these people did not deserve my derision, but that was irrelevant.
I don’t look back on that time with regret. I actually liked who I was then and how that person evolved into who I am now. Mistakes always teach us more than successes.
During the time I served a mission, I was very similar to many 19 and 20 year old boys. I was brash, loud, childish and foolish. I had good qualities as well, but these particular things stood out. After a particularly loud exhibition by me during a missionary conference, the mission president took me aside (he did this with every missionary at the meeting) and we talked. Without talking down at me (that came months later), he began to explain some things. The measure of maturity, he said, was knowing what to say and when to say it.
Of course I thought that was total crap. Sometimes you just have to say what you have to say, regardless of whether it upsets someone, or causes harm.
Maybe it is age, though I like to attribute it to life experience, but I feel differently now. These words make sense and I try to remember them. I fail from time to time-sometimes monstrously, but I learn. I go on, do better. I see it in my children when they speak without thinking, when they act without understanding or caring about consequence. Growing up is hard and learning what to say, and what not to say takes time and practice. Eventually, most of us learn to control ourselves, though some never do. Others understand the concept, but disagree, refusing to allow the perceptions and reactions of others to dictate their lives. It doesn’t matter who is right.
They key for me is not condemning others for not seeing the world the same way I do. I still get annoyed at some of the discomfort people allow themselves to feel at certain words or phrases, but I understand where it comes from. So few things in life are ever black and white and I am glad for that. So many beautiful shades of gray keep things interesting.
P.S. I still question all authority. No one should get a free pass.