This is an unscheduled post.
The letter copied below from Carolyn Hax’s column for today just blew me away, as pertinent to current posts on the topic of presence. A lifestyle of presence is very much out of synch with contemporary American culture, and is seen by those who don’t understand it as selfish and irresponsible. The letter I’m quoting here epitomizes what’s likely to happen when you “keep the focus on you” and “mind your own business” — and deal with others who have no intention of doing either one.
My brother’s wife is pregnant and very difficult. First, she took weeks to even tell me that I was going to be an aunt. Then, she asked me not to tell anyone, including my own sons, until she was further along. It took a few more weeks until she would “let” my sons know and then she told them herself! When I wanted to take a picture of how she told them, “in a special way,” she asked me not to put it on Facebook.
What do I say to her to let her know how rude and selfish she’s being? My boys are excited to be big cousins and I want my friends and family to know about their being cousins.
Whose body is this?
Whose fetus is this?
Whose news is this?
Whose decision is this on how, when and with whom the news will be shared?
Whose job would it be to retract the good news far and wide if she miscarried after she “let” the news spread unchecked?
I can’t say I’m a fan of the highly controlled news release, but that preference applies to no one but me, and to no one’s news but mine; your sister-in-law’s comfort zone is what governs the release of her news.
So, to identify the person who’s being “very difficult” (and self-centered, and, if you’re pressuring her or complaining to others in the family circle, rude), you need a mirror. Your sister-in-law is not having a baby just to entertain your children or provide you with the perfect social-media moment. Your place in this life event is squarely on the sidelines.
Know that place, and stay in it, unless and until you’re invited to step in closer. As it happens, showing such respect, restraint and good sportsmanship will multiply your opportunities to take joyous part; conversely, ignoring boundaries will secure you a well-deserved spot on the bench.
This just reminds me so much of an aggressive panhandler; those who will regard a self-caring person as arrogant, greedy and selfish; those who even regard the U.S.’s minding its own business as abrogating (what they see as) its duty to solve all the world’s problems (from Syria to Nigeria to the Ukraine, not counting also global warming, Somalia and the Mt. Everest landslide).
(Originally posted 05/09/14.)