A few weeks ago, I was out at my Dad's place. We had very cold weather, but as soon as the snow touched the ground, it turned to watery slush, churning up mud. He lives at the top of a hill, the highest hill in the region, and it was turning into inches of mud (he's having the driving areas re-stoned).
We had a place to be, and soon, so we tried to get my father's mechanical wheelchair to the truck and up its lift. Unfortunately, I almost lost a shoe in the mud, because the dirt now was so thick and soft. We tried several things, even moving planks of wood, but we did not have enough wood and the chair itself is one of those electric, large jobs - we were afraid of getting it stuck.
This entire time, I'm trying to be helpful, but apologizing profusely. I knew he needed it, and I was unable to comply with what I saw as a simple request without getting the wheelchair or the truck with the lift on it stuck.
"I'm sorry," I said, probably half a dozen times, muttering at the futility of what we were doing.
After about the second dozen time, my dad yelled at me.
Now, I think that most people get beyond the moments of childhood when they grow up, save for the occasional paternal lecture. But this yell was sharp, taking me back to somewhere in the neighborhood of my daughter's age.
"Stop saying you're sorry!"
I was confused at first, because I'm am years unused to that kind of tone. I said nothing, but before I could speak, my father explained himself angrily.
"I just watched something on that. A report. But it talked about how people would say 'I'm sorry' and after a while, they believed they were sorry people. You're not a sorry person, stop saying it," he said vehemently.
Whoa. Go, Dad.
It was food for thought: a reminder of being careful of the words I use, the fact that my father is STILL constantly learning wisdom, and the awesome fact that no matter how old you are, a parent can still assert themselves.
All good lessons, yes?
Of recent, I've been going back and forth with a friend. I've felt that through his formal education, he still struggles with the concept that people who are not formally educated are perhaps not as intelligent as him. This is something that I've humored for quite a while. I haven't seen him recently, so we've bantered back and forth on the internet.
At first, it wasn't really all that obvious. We'd talk about the kinds of things he was interested in, openly debating, questioning, and disagreeing. Phrases like, "Well, I think I've read enough to know..." or "I've read plenty on that subject" started creeping in. These phrases were often used at the height of arguements/debates, and I took them in stride. For a while.
Then I found myself accommodating them. After a while, almost like "I'm Sorry", I started saying, "Well, I know I'm not as well read as you" or "I'm not an expert on the subject". I found myself apologizing for not being as well read, because some of his concepts he had to communicate without using the technical jargon. In essence, he was 'dumbing down' the ideas so I could understand them. I say 'dumbing down', because he was frustrated he couldn't use all the big and fancy words to communicate his new-found knowledge. I was frustrated that something he could have got out could have been half an hour shorter in conversation to convey a concept.
After several of these little mental skirmishes, one phrase set me on edge.
"Let me make this easy for you."
Don't ask me. I took it like a mental slap in the face. It occurred to me that my friend, a close and beloved friend, was treating me like a damn idiot. And after some subtle brainwashing, I was agreeing with him that I was an idiot. That my opinions were stupid and that my advice was stupid. All 'round, I felt like a complete moron.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Make that woman a witch and you'll have to head for a a fallout shelter.
It makes it all the worse when you realize the person brain-washing you into believing you're stupid is someone you love and trust beyond the scope of most people.
No, the jury is still out on that incident. We'll see what develops, won't we?
SO...in closing, be very careful of the words you speak. Be mindful of the words spoken to you. Words have power, and when you keep invoking the same essence in a nonchalant manner, you'll wind up getting exactly what you ask for.