Friday, July 9, 2010


As I write this, someone I care about is embroiled in a hideously painful and significantly life-affecting dispute with someone else who is behaving in a vile and nasty way. Every time I think about this other person's vileness and nastiness, I feel sick inside. It's all I can do to stop thinking about it. But last night, as I lay in bed unable to fall asleep, I decided that this is precisely what I need to do: stop thinking about it.

As an outsider to the dispute, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I offered my services at one point only to find the vileness and nastiness directed instead at me. Neither party to the dispute is inclined to welcome or accept my advice. All I can do is listen, if called upon to listen. That is it.

I find myself wanting to think about this over and over again, and also to tell everybody else about it. In the past, my strategy for dealing with difficult things in my life has been to write about them and to talk about them to my friends. I've found that the more times I tell a story about some hard thing in my life, the more the hard thing starts to become . . . just a story, a narrative of events that might as well have happened to somebody else.

But now I'm rethinking this strategy, at least in regard to this particular case. I decided last night that vileness and nastiness need to be contained, not spread. I don't want to be part of spewing black oil over innocent wildlife - to invoke an all-too-apt metaphor. I want to reduce, not multiply, the amount of vileness and nastiness in the world.

So as of this writing, I'm going to make every possible effort to stop thinking about this. Instead, I am going to follow the supremely wise advice of St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians: "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Amen to that.


  1. Claudia, that is one of my all time favorite Bible passages! It is such wise advice.
    -- Carol Linda

  2. It's one of my favorite Bible passages, too! I often simply tell myself, "Whatsoever things are lovely, think on these things." It works.

  3. Cheryl, I had to look that one up - it's lovely!
    "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Sounds like a plan!