Those who matter don’t mind

Wil Calendar 2008 001

(photo of Wil at 1 1/2 years)

Nothing compares to the honesty of children.  Never ask a child the question, “Do I look fat in this?” unless you are prepared to hear a very truthful answer. You simply look fat or you don’t, period.  Its from our reactions, and our kid’s natural desire to please their parents, that they learn to tip-toe around questions like these.

I was so proud of my 7 year old daughter, Elizabeth, for using her honest frankness to stop a possible bullying situation before it could gain any momentum. Though Elizabeth is young, she has oily skin, and has some acne (this has been checked by the doctor, no other concerns were found). As this is unusual in a 7 year old, it is noticed. Of course, Elizabeth would prefer not to have acne, but she is comfortable with it. In her mind, it just is what it is. One girl in her class walked up to her and said, “Do you know you  have red spots on your face?”  That could be an innocent question, but sadly, we all know those kids that have developed a snarkiness at too young of an age. This girl is one of them. Elizabeth responded in a very forthright way, “Yes, they are called pimples and I have them because I have oily skin.”  The other girl had no nothing. There were no hurt or angry emotions for the other girl to feed off of, all Elizabeth gave her was frank honesty. No one can compete with that.

My favorite two words together are true expression. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to live a life of true expression. It is not an easy way to live, as not everyone will agree with our thoughts. But, the alternative, to live a life for someone else, or to live against our inner beliefs, is to live a life of bondage. That honesty you had as a child never goes away no matter how hard you try to cover it up.  We mature, get hurt, and learn ways to avoid the hurt, and those are all very important life lessons. But, if one of the ways we learned to avoid the hurt is to be someone we are not, the results are never good. That inner truth of who you are always finds a way to speak, and if you don’t want to hear it, the only way to quiet it is with drugs, alcohol, overeating, or other unhealthy substances. We all know these types of things do not lead to a free and fulfilling life.

It takes courage to live a life of true expression, and no matter what we have been through, we all have that courage within us. Dr. Seuss is one person I admire that lived a life of true expression. His writing is very uniquely his, and his books all send powerful messages in his own playful way. He understood that living a life of true expression is to live honestly with no hate in your heart.  Not everyone agrees with his messages or even likes his style, but everyone can agree that his style is one of a kind. He lived his quote, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

When I first read that quote, I loved it. It is very empowering, and it truly encompasses true expression. But, I also see how it can be viewed as an excuse to go around being offensive without care or concern for anothers feelings.  That can not be Dr. Seuss’ intent. There is a big difference between living a life of true expression and being purposely offensive. If we live honestly and true to ourselves, that simply can not be hurtful. If we go back to conjuring up the  honesty we had as  a child, its nature is not evil or hurtful. If we live honestly, and speak our truths, there will certainly be people who do not agree with you, and may even get offended, but your truths will never be directly hurtful to another.

Many children with special needs are experts at true expression.  They live in and for the moment, and in many cases, we adults give them a free pass to do so because they are so honest in their delivery. If my son, Wil, who is 6 years old and has Down syndrome, found something funny in the middle of a funeral and let out a giggle, I know that instead of glaring at him in disgust, it would be received as a much needed heart-lifter and people would giggle right along with him.  Wil is also a spontaneous hugger. If we are in the grocery store and he gets the urge to give someone a hug, he will. I have never seen anyone push him away…it is always received with a look of surprise, then a genuine smile. If I did any of the above, people would think I had a screw loose, but that is not my true expression, its his, and people sense what is honest and what isn’t, and respond accordingly to it(it doesn’t hurt that he’s darn cute).  Sure, there will be the prudes who think I need to teach my child some manners, really, how dare he giggle at a funeral or go up to a stranger for a hug.  But, the majority of people will see the pureness of his expression, and derive as much joy from receiving it as he does in delivering it.

If you think of someone you have a very tight bond with, it is there because you are completely honest with that person, and they are honest with you. There is absolute true expression between the two of you. It doesn’t mean you completely agree with everything they think and do, and vice-versa, but you each have a deep respect and acceptance for one another no matter your differences. When you think of that bond, it is one of the most powerful things in the world, it brings a feeling of complete freedom.  The challenge is living that freedom with everyone, every day. Of course, we don’t want to share the depths of our soul with the world, but to live in a way that is true to ourselves is the only way to freedom.

Wil lives a life of freedom, and so do all small children, unless they have been thrown into a poor environment through no fault of their own. Even then, they still have that true expression in their hearts, they’ve just learned at an early age to cover it up. Those poor souls are the ones that will have to work hard to access it again, but it can be done. It never, ever dies.  It is honest and without malice.  We are taught to hurt, it is not part of who we are. Our pureness of heart is always there, and its waiting patiently for when we are ready to access it, and share it with the world. Your words may not speak to everyone, but if you share your true expression honestly and without malice, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

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