Saturday, October 17, 2009

"I'm only responsible for my watch..."

"I'm not prepared to argue that letter-press printing is better, to anyone who doesn't already think so..."

This is an intriguing quote to me - and not because I have any opinion at all about whether or not letter-press printing is really great. It is a quote from John Kristensen, proprietor of Firefly Press in Somerville, MA. (This is located near where my in-laws used to live, but I've never been there. I've only become aware of it through this video I have watched; it is a short documentary about letter-press printing that has me thinking on so many different levels...)

This quote in particular has me thinking. You see, I am a pretty opinionated person; I am also pretty open. This is often a problematic combination. I try not to impose my views on other people, but I am very often unsuccessful in this attempted restraint.

If I feel strongly about something (especially that something is particularly good or particularly bad), I really want to share it with people I care about. Usually this does not garner me the high praise that my friend Rachel recently received. ("ah, there is the rachel that I dearly miss. filled with wisdom and opinion, and spunk! love you.") Usually my shared stuff is less considered "wisdom; opinion; spunk" and more considered "pushy; judgmental; obnoxious." I'm not as cute as Rachel, either, which doesn't help...

No, I don't have a real passionate opinion about letter-press printing. But I do often find myself convinced, as John Kristensen is, that some such-and-so thing is better than some other such-and-so thing. What I have failed to learn is his wisdom not "to argue that (it) is better, to anyone who doesn't already think so."

So, among the many, many things-I-think-are-really-good-and-therefore-must-tell-you-about which I've discussed with people, high on the list is probably homeschooling. It is not the conventional schooling choice for most of America, so it puts me in the "weirdo minority" just by the very fact of my doing it.

I remember discussing last year, at a Homeschooling through High School Symposium sponsored by HSLDA, the common problem of people-who-don't-homeschool feeling judged by those of us who do choose to homeschool our students. We were walking to the cafeteria for our lunch break, and one of the High School Coordinators walking with me gave me some really great advice. She said, "Oh I would never try to convince someone to homeschool who didn't want to. It takes too much time, too much work, too much commitment, too much personal sacrifice... there's no way I'd ever try to convince someone to do it who wasn't already being convinced it was the right thing to do."

And so, I am learning - with varying degrees of success - to keep my mouth shut. Not only about homeschooling, but about just about everything. It is ironic, because it feels very much like I have to stop caring for people as much. I have to watch them do things I believe will be harmful in the end. I have to stay mum about things I think would help them in the end. In short, I have to "let people screw up their own lives," as my father advised me a few months ago.

And I have to accept that they're also probably going to stay mum about things-that-would-help-me-in-the-end-if-they-would-just-tell-me. I'd love the opportunity to hear their "wisdom; opinion; spunk," to accept or reject as desired, but this is not the way most American friendships function. It's a shame, really, but "them's the breaks." If only I could learn the lesson of another of Kristensen's quotes, "I'm only responsible for my watch..."

By the way, though... If you are reading this, and you know me personally (yeah, the map says there are strangers I don't know around the world somehow stumbling onto my Blog... hmmmm...), please know that I really do want to know. Even if it hurts my feelings. Even if it makes me angry. Even if I don't agree and never change based on what you shared. I want the opportunity to hear it and weigh it and take it before the Lord and make a more-informed decision, prayerfully, because you cared enough to share with me. Thank you.

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