Dear Mrs A.,
Hello! How have you been? Good I hope?
I suppose you are surprised to receive my letter today. I mean, who writes letters nowadays? I could as easily have picked up the phone to talk to you instead. Communication was never as easy (AND affordable) as it is now. But I didn’t want to say all this on the phone. There is something about the written word that leaves a deeper, more indelible impact, don’t you think?
Hence this letter.
I want you to know that someone took the trouble to form these sentences so you could read them. That it was important enough for someone. Though I know you wont read these words, you aren’t an online person. Still, it is the sentiment that counts as they say.
You asked me a question the other day when we spoke on the phone. It took my breath away, your question. I was too shocked to answer you that day but I will answer you today…. you and all your ilk who imagine themselves the keepers and moderators of other people’s dignity and self-respect. It really does need to be said; for all out sakes, if not for yours.
It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.
(Fransisco d’Anconia to James Taggart, Atlas Shrugged)
Do you remember what we were talking about that day Mrs A.? Let me remind you. In fact, let me replay the entire conversation… this time with my unuttered reply added.
You: So, what have you been upto these days?
Self: Oh, this and that. You know I can’t keep still!
You: Yeah! You do move from one thing to another, don’t you?
(With this, I should have guessed where you were going, but I was clueless.)
Self: Yes! Don’t I? (laughs)
You: So what the this and that you’ve been doing these days?
Self: Well! I am super excited about something I have been working towards for nearly two years.
You: Two years! But you never told me anything! Surely we’ve talked in the past two years? (I read doubt in the way your voice trails off uncertainly)
Self: Oh, certainly we’ve talked! But somehow the topic never came up. Moreover, I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it work as I wanted to. So I kept it to myself.
You: But now you can talk about it?
Self: Yes! Happily!
You: So it is working as you wanted it to?
Self: It is!
You: I’m waiting!
Self: I’ve been into crafting lately, you remember I told you?
You: Yes, yes I remember! Recycling and all that, right?
You: You have a lot of time and patience I must say. I can’t be bothered!
(In retrospect, I think this is the point when someone really should have shot me. But they didn’t.)
Self: Not a question of time or patience really. When you love something, you always find time.
(Yup! Clueless, that’s me. And no, I didn’t attend any courses on it. It comes naturally to me. Happy now?)
In order for you to insult me, I would first have to value your opinion.
You: But that’s just a hobby, isn’t it? Something to do in your spare time. You’ll get tired of it soon enough. I’m surprised you haven’t already.
Self: There’s no way I’ll get tired of it. I love the work… just LOVE it! I’ve been making lots and lots of things. But mainly, I have been making rugs with fabric- crocheted rugs. I call them Rugs Of Life. Last month I launched them online and I have had a fabulous response! I’m so excited about it! And so pleased! Isn’t that great?
You: Aren’t you ashamed of doing this kind of work after being so educated? You are a physics a post grad!? What’s wrong with you?!!
Self: (Too shocked to say a word)
You: (pityingly) But I suppose life makes you do all kinds of things.
Self: I have to go now. I’ll talk to you some other day. Take care, bye.
Without waiting to hear your reply, I terminated the call; panting as if I had run a mile.
Terminating that call was the kindest thing I have ever done for you; I want you to know that. If I had not, I might have let lose the words which formed faster than lightening in the fertile soil of my brain. Those words would most likely have singed your pretty pink toes. I let your toes alone that day because I had promised myself many years ago that I will HALT my words when I know them to be unpleasant.
You know me well enough to know I could have done it and never regretted it. I held my tongue because it isn’t your fault that your perception is so narrow. I cannot entirely blame you for the smallness of your thought process. You have adopted the value system of your environment. You have subscribed to a value system which harks back a couple of centuries. The value system might have been deemed faultless then but today it’s inadequacies are painfully apparent.
Your value system is a product of the Industrial Age paradigms when: study hard and get a white collar job even if it means you must starve was the wisest advice all parents saddled their progeny with. Words like interest and passion never had enough weight to add any value to your balances with which you weighed success.
I don’t blame you for what you said. I can actually feel sorry for you. It must be such a punishment to have such a narrow thought process!
Let me tell you something, honey. Fifty percent of life is others trying to push their own agenda on you—their belief system, their views, their convictions. The other fifty percent is you deciding whether or not you’re going to let them. Or if you’re going to form your own opinions.
~ Rachael Wade
I thought the issue was over. Yet, I find those unuttered words sitting inside me, not knowing what to do. Every time I look within, they look at me with an exasperated, accusing frown. They are bored, methinks. They want out. I need to let them out and put them away somewhere safe. Somewhere you will never venture; somewhere you will never meet them- not even accidentally. What better place to keep them than here?
This is why I am writing to you today, to give closure to those words. And for a couple of other reasons too.
No Mrs. A., I am not ashamed of doing this kind of work, on the contrary.
If I were involved in shady deals with corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and government officials; deals which drain my country and honest hard-working people of the rewards of their effort, like you husband is, I would have been ashamed.
If I were selling the military secrets of my country to rival nations- I would have been ashamed. But you see, I’m not doing that either.
If I were taking money from my students to manipulate their test scores to undeservedly high levels- I would have been awfully ashamed. In fact, I was asked to do exactly that by the director of an MBA institute. He wanted four of his pet students to be given passing grades. When I refused, he refused to renew my contract. Had I succumbed then- I desperately needed the money because my children were very young- I wouldn’t have been able to look my children in the eye. And yes, I would have been ashamed. But I didn’t do that Mrs. A!
If I were the kind of person who makes a big show of their religious devoutness while losing no opportunity to rip some innocent of their hard-earned, I would be very ashamed. But Mrs. A., I’ve never done anything so dastardly.
If I were an embittered hulk of a human being who- having clung to a non-serving value system- had turned her life into a cesspool of frustrated dreams… and let her innocent children take the brunt of her cowardice and impotence… I would have been horribly ashamed. But Mrs. A, I didn’t do that!
Let me not belabor the point. I am sure you’ve got the drift.
I am NOT ashamed Mrs. A., and I never will be. If that outrages your delicate sensibilities, they had better remain outraged.
I am happy to keep myself inspired doing things I love to do. I am trying to make a small contribution to conserving my beautiful home, this blue planet you share with me. I am making sure that I not only talk about recycling and conservation, but put my money where my mouth is. While doing this, if I am able to create joy for myself and for those I serve with humble love and gratitude, I don’t see why I am expected to be ashamed of it. I refuse to be ashamed Mrs. A. On the contrary, I am mighty proud of it.
Mrs. A., this letter of mine is not a rant. They say thoughts are things. When a thought is born in your mind, you launch it into the world by various channels. The speed at which the thought permeates through depends on the channel you have used.
When you put the thought into words and speak them, the thought permeates the quickest. If you keep the thought to yourself but dwell on it often, you let it float away from you much slower. I thought I would take the middle path. I am writing a letter, sealing it in a glass bottle and launching it in the ocean. Someday, if the universe wills it, someone would read it just in time to bite their tongue before uttering something as silly as you gave yourself the permission to utter. Because you see Mrs. A., not everyone is as saintly patient as I am.
This letter is also an attempt to find solidarity with my fellow sufferers… to show them that they aren’t alone and that we all have silly people in our lives. To say to them that:
Other people’s heads are too wretched a place for true happiness to have its seat.
~ Arthur Schopenhauer
God bless you!
With warm regards,