In a recent water-cooler conversation, a friend mentioned, innocently and without judgment or malice, that some mutual acquaintances are in conflict over something, probably rather petty, but unfortunate nonetheless. It was clear that the storyteller was being intentionally vague to avoid getting caught up in the ugliness of gossip. She is a lovely person and mentioned no names, just authentic concern about how people were treating each other. I had no idea who or what she was talking about. And, from the responses of the others standing there, they didn’t either. Since it was clear that none of us were involved in the drama (whew), we moved on.
My curiosity did not. Move on, I mean.
I truly have no idea who or what was said or done. And, again, no one in the conversation asked.
But, oh, how I wanted to. Sort of.
And the “sort of” makes me just the tiniest bit satisfied with myself. Not in a cocky way, but in a “finally” way. Because tempering that curiosity with thoughtfulness is helping me stay balanced. I know this sounds obscure, but stay with me and let me know if you agree.
So, here I am… aware that there is a situation in which someone was hurt or bullied by another person I probably know. And, there is a good chance that I am better acquainted with one than another. My curiosity is sort of dying to know who, who, who… so I can form my opinion, take a side, and offer what help I can be to the wounded friend or even, in some cases, the unfairly labeled bully. My intentions are really pure. Satisfying my curiosity is just an inevitable, unavoidable by-product.
But, the minute the scoop is dished, I can’t give it back. I won’t get a Nevermind-because-lalalalalalala-I-didn’t-really-want-to-hear-that. I will forever know that this colleague or that friend or this group or that team did this to them or said that about her or may or may not have done something I will defend or despise. And, in a moment, I find myself involved in something that is completely not any of my business at all. My friend’s family says it’s “nunya”… as in “nunya business.”
Which leads to the imbalance, doesn’t it? I am now perched on a scale that will tip in either one direction or another. Towards one friend, away from another. On the side of one who didn’t ask for my support, or harboring secret feelings of resentment against one who is completely unaware of my warped perspective.
Essentially, this is what I am saying:
I heard something about you, something that doesn’t involve me, that I didn’t witness, and that would never have touched my life had it not been for a casual conversation with others that weren’t involved either. And that distant “something” now colors every thought I have about you. It may draw me toward you or turn me against you. It may affect how I greet you in the morning or respond to your suggestion at a meeting. It may keep me from getting to know you in a deeper way because I let someone else’s words tip the balance. Or it may lure me to your corner, taking up residence behind barriers that you have created against those I may have otherwise found remarkable, even inspiring.
Shame on me. I know this is true because I have let it happen. I have welcomed it, in fact. In order to improve my station in the pecking order of the world, I have let someone else’s eyes see for me. And, were it not for the grace God gives us to repair the past and embrace the truth, I would not have gotten to know some good people. If He had not granted do-overs, I would have missed out on experiences and relationships of all kinds that have marked my life, made me more compassionate, a better listener, and much more likely to look for the truly good rather than just the temporarily juicy,
I said that I feel the tiniest bit satisfied because this time I did temper my curiosity with thoughtfulness. I didn’t ask and I can say that I honestly don’t want to know. And I said “finally” because it took me a long time to really see that, in the end, being a little curious is much better than being even slightly off-balance.