by Jake Block
An old joke on how I learned to mind my own business.
I was walking past the insane asylum one day and heard the inmates chanting, “13, 13, 13…” so I tried to see what they were doing. I found a small crack in the bricks and when I looked through, one of them poked me in the eye with a sharp stick and they all began to chant, “14,14,14…”
Sometimes it takes a sharp stick in the eye or a punch in the face to make us realize that not everything in the world falls within our personal sphere of influence and that sometimes, we should just keep our nose the hell out of other people’s business. Still, we seem to think that we have the right to know everything about anything and spout off, telling people how they should live their lives, as if we are some expert on their emotions, finances or any other aspect of their lives that you’d care to name. We might “know them,” or have interacted with them on occasion, but KNOWING them still gives us no right to make value judgements. At best, we are mere observers and interested parties, and at worst, simply meddling busy bodies.
I make no apologies for being well read. I make no apologies for being well travelled. I make no apologies for thinking critically. I make no apologies for being intelligent. I make no apologies for being well off. I make no apologies for my art. I make no apologies for my loves. I make no apologies to you, and I make no apologies to a god.
Whether anyone approves of my life, I live it as I will, because it’s my life and I alone can make the choices that I do on how to use it to my best benefit. It might not work for you, but then, who ever said that it had to? We all live within the bubble of our reality and carry a sharp needle. Some think the needle is to burst our own bubble, freeing us to move on to another and another until we’ve explored all of the options we care to, and some of us think that the needle is for us to burst the bubble of others, forcing them to our will.
Life is a personal thing that we need to live, not defend to others. I can see how someone might not agree with what I do in my life. They may see me as too loud, too free or too sexual. There are a million ways to pick apart someone’s life because it isn’t to your liking, but in doing so, one should ask oneself, what the hell makes me so damned sure that my life is beyond reproach? Who the hell am I to tell anyone else how they are supposed to live? WHY am I so cocksure in the belief that I know what is best for another person, anyway? Most people will ask, if they want your opinion, and then will consider what you have to say, but for the vast majority of people, the way that they live their lives is nobody’s business but their own and resent other people sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.
We give our advice when asked, but fail to realize that that is where our responsibility in the situation at hand ends. From the moment you put that period on the sentence about what you think about the situation, the ball is no longer in your court. From that point on, it’s the other person who has the necessity to evaluate what they have heard and then make the best choices for their lives, based upon the information that is given. If that choice is to reject your opinion, then let it go. It’s THEIR life, not yours, and while you might think that every word of opinion uttered from your lips is golden, others assign value to them in the currency of their lives. To them, your gold might be of ultimate value, but then, it’s just as likely that its value is minimal at best.
Each of us lives in a personal bubble, and while we might interact from time to time, those bubbles are our individual worlds that others might see and admire or perhaps even copy, but in the end each bubble can sustain only one person, perhaps merging and separating with other bubbles along the way for a time. But our bubble is our world, inviolate and sacred if only to us. We may be influenced by all of those other bubbles and their inhabitants, and we might even be changed from time to time, but woe be unto those who would ever think we would — or could — relinquish control. So then, why would we think that anyone else would relinquish control to US?
Here’s an interesting concept from the ancients… yes, even as far back as the 1950s. We heard it from parents, teachers and even those whom we might offend. “Keep your hands to yourself”, or “Keep your eyes on your own paper,” or “Mind your own business.”
Unless you are ready and willing to share in a person’s life’s pain as well as pleasure on a very personal level, let them handle their problems. If they need help, they will ask for it. How much of a different world would it be if, when someone told another person, “I would just not worry about that lesion on your nose. Rub some (insert product here) and it will go away. You don’t need a doctor,” and they took your advice, BOTH would suffer the loss of a nose when that little lesion turned out to be cancer? How quickly would you interject yourself into the life decisions of others?
If you don’t like what another person is doing with their life, you have two choices… either live with it, or don’t associate with them. Unless their life choices and/or interests affect you directly, in a way that you can’t disentangle from, why is it that their choices are so damned important to YOU? Their life will go on… or not… with or without you. Unless your are the model of perfection, you’ll get more bang for your buck in paying attention to what is going on in your own life.
Sorry to burst your bubble.