Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Stiff Upper Lip

I don't like the paper, but sometimes I find some pearls of good, common sense comment which I think strike a chord with some of society. Today in the Telegraph Andrew O'Hagan writes about the stiff upper lip attitude and how we should think about rediscovering some of the pearls of wisdom that the attitude of maybe keeping somethings to ourselves encourages.

People that know me know I am nuerotic, an extravert, passionate, heart on your sleeve type of guy. There's not much I don't share, and in many ways I love that about myself. An old seminary professor who I couldn't stand once told me that St. Augustine and I would get along well, he meant that as an insult, yet I took it as a compliment. In his view Augstine was too public, too nurotic, to platonic for his liking. I kindly reminded the professor that Augustine was a saint, and that he'd do well to take a chapter from his book. That same professor had a bearing on why I left seminary.

Yet there are times I wish I could be like those who can keep things in. A friend of mines applied for seminary, discerned, prayed, went on weekends for applicants and all through the selection process without telling anyone. I really admire that...

When I went to seminary the whole world knew. There is a quality in that which I admire, and I often wonder why. What I like about myself is that because I'm publically passionate about things, people can see easilly that I care. For example, most people, even those who disagree with that I do (pro-life) arn't suprised when I tell them who I work for and what I do. They think it's typical of me. Yet is that a good thing? Should I bottle up a little? I think there is a little 'yes' and 'no'. I hope I never become dry and boring, but I do hope that I can learn the wisdom to keep some things to myself.

Being a believer, I have a relationship with God and in many ways when I bottle things up, I don't really keep them in as such I can give them to God. Last night when I was giving a radio interview I pleaded that God speak through me, and freely conversed with Jesus, Mary & the Saints about what to say. Yet the most frustrating thing was trying to be silent enough to actually hear what they had to say, that's a strange thing to say. But I know that if you're listening, God will speak to you, not in any divine apparition, but in the depths of your being God will speak and show you were to go.

O'Hagan ends his article with some inspiration for all those 'Augustine' like characters out there, and I think it's good.

How much more impressive (and heartening, and a real tonic) it is to come across people who have surmounted incredible difficulties and can still get on with their lives. People in wheelchairs find love; people with no voice become politicians and speak for masses - with nary a complaint or a memoir along the way - while every day we are invited to commune with some perfectly endowed individual who wants us to feel her pain about not being able to find a boyfriend.

The stiff upper lip doesn't seek to deny sadness, but rather acknowledges it quietly, takes control of it, and allows one to survive and move on. The person who ends each telephone conversation - with everyone from their mother to their plumber - with "Love You" is not necessarily the supremely well-adjusted hero you might think. This is to put sentimentality before real feeling; sometimes holding back is simply a way of allowing your emotions their true weight.

For the sake of your health, get buttoned up, though please don't expect to win any national talent contests if you do so.

For now, I'll try and be less personal, but I'm not making any promises ;)

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