Minding Your Own Business: What Does It Matter?
August Full Moon 2010. Photo Copyright by Lorna Tedder
The next time you find yourself getting all stirred up over something someone else is doing, ask yourself, “What does it matter? How does it affect MY life?”
For example? How about “for examples”? Here are a few conversations I’ve noted in the last week:
1. Two discussions of how people focus on the commercialism of Christmas and forget its “true meaning” (which varies according to the person). One woman got really wound up over the Christmas shopping and gift-wrapping and how awful it is that people spend their time on the commercial aspects of Christmas. Personally, I’m thinking that maybe they’ll help the economy, but really, what does someone else’s focus on the commercial aspects of Christmas matter? How does it affect me? I’ve made personal choices not to stress over the Thanksgiving to New Year time frame and focus on what I want to focus on, so if someone else focuses on something differently, what does it matter to me? I’m free to choose what I want to focus on—and do—so I won’t get pulled into drama over whether someone is getting up at 3AM to shop the day after Thanksgiving or spending an evening in a prayer vigil or braving the cold to serenade their neighbors with carols.
2. Two different discussions over whether someone can be both Christian and Wiccan. In neither case was anyone present who can reconcile the two religions into one path. The discussion participants were all either Christian or Wiccan and spent a lot of breath (and pixels) on what other people should be doing, based on the paths they’d chosen. If someone proclaims to be both or a blend of both, what does it matter, really? How does it affect MY life? It doesn’t.
3. Three women were talking about a coworker whose daughter is going off to college this fall. The mom has saved for her child’s college education since the child was a 6-month-old fetus. The mom has made good investments and can now afford to pay tuition without a struggle. This, according to the three women, is Not a Good Thing because the other woman’s daughter should have to do what they did—and what their own children do—struggle to make ends meet, take out huge loans, drop out of college. What does it matter that the other woman’s daughter is benefitting from her wise investments? How does it affect me or those three women and their children?
4. In the women’s bathroom, two coworkers whispered about a third. The subject of their gossip has recently been seen with a new man at a romantic dinner—but the man is (gasp!) married and the woman is a home-wrecker. I happen to know that the man and his wife have been separated for more than a year, that his divorce has dragged on because of a particular piece of real estate, and that he and his new romantic interest met for the first time last month. These two gossips are intent on spreading the news of perceived infidelity. What does it matter? How does the new relationship affect me—or them?
5. Two men I know were standing outside an office and having a heated discussion about gay marriage. Both men are heterosexual. One has been married for several decades. The other has been through several marriages in the past decade. Both were angrily concerned about what gay marriage will mean for heterosexual marriage. They asked my opinion, expecting me to agree that gay marriage will threaten a 30-year marriage or maybe be the cause of the thrice-divorced man not marrying again. I didn’t get pulled into their self-imposed drama because 1. It doesn’t matter and 2. It doesn’t affect me.
I’m sure you encounter conversations similar to these as well. Politics and religion are rife with such dramas.
So what do these things matter? How do they affect my life? Really, the only thing I can think of is that conversations would be a lot quieter and people would have a lot less to talk about and bond over if we all minded our own business and stopped trying to control what other people believe, think, and do.