Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Let It Go 101

One of the benefits of maturing is learning how to handle disagreements without getting fuming mad. It's not that I don't get annoyed or angry; it's that I can let it go much easier.

There were times, not so long ago, that if I disagreed with someone and knew in my heart of hearts that they were wrong, I was convinced it was my duty; nay, my moral obligation to show them the error of their ways. In retrospect, I don't think it had much to do with proving them wrong. It was more about proving that I was right.

I still remember a discussion - slash – argument with a good friend in college. It was about – are you ready for this? – how winds are named (e.g. westerly, southerly, etc.). My friend said winds were named for the direction in which they blew. In other words, she said a wind blowing from the east towards the west would be called a Westerly.

I knew she was wrong because I distinctly remembered my Geography 12 teacher drilling it into us that winds are named by the direction "from" which they blew. Hence, a Westerly was blowing from the west. I could not convince my friend that she was wrong. It drove me nuts!

We both got upset about it (silly, I know) and stomped off, never to mention it again. How I wish we had laptops and Google back then. For years, I wondered if she ever got it straight and said to herself, "Aha, Ell was right all along!" I doubt it.

It wasn't so much that I wanted to prove her wrong, but for her to bow down to my superior knowledge and admit that I was right. It was about ego. It was about showing, proof positive, that I was smart and, by golly, smarter than her. I needed to get over myself.

As it happens, if you're even moderately honest with yourself and live long enough, you realize that you're not as smart as you originally thought in those heady days of youth. I won't go into details, but I'm sure some of you can relate; I was brought down a notch or two in my life.

Life lesson: There's always someone else smarter than you.

So, having gotten over myself, I learned to let things be.

Once I figured out that it's wasn't necessary to win every argument and have everyone agree with me, life got a lot easier and less aggravating.

I will still argue my point as logically, persuasively and passionately as possible, but once it's out there, I've either convinced the other person; or not. If they want to carry on a civilized discussion, fine. If it's just devolving into an argument for argument's sake, then it's pointless.

One day I'm going to ask my college friend if she remembers our conversation about wind directions. She'll probably look at me as if I've lost my mind.

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