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On Opinions

The following is an excerpt from chapter five of my book Clearing Away the Crap in my Cap. The work is a rhyming book that explores the complexities and challenges of the human condition. The focus is on issues we all struggle with at times and common traps we may fall in to. I hope you enjoy.


We came to a park bench and we both took a seat,
I was glad for the chance to get off of my feet.
We sat there in silence as folks passed us by,
I was glancing about as things caught my eye.
“Look at that,” I exclaimed in a smug sort of tone,
a young man passed us by looking rather alone.
His hair was quite different, a very strange doo,
and his arms were adorned with wild tattoos.
“Now that’s a real shame,” I said with a grunt,
“No son of mine would pull such a stunt.”
Just then I saw two people dressed head to toe
in some strange kind of outfit, moving quite slow.
I’d seen this strange kind of clothing before,
but I didn’t know what this outfit was for.
My mouth made a sort of clicking type sound,
my shoes made a tapping noise on the ground.
I said without thinking of what I had said,
“Why can’t those folks wear something normal instead?”
Then Sam turned to me with a message to send.
“You are certainly full of opinions my friend.
You seem to feel you have something to say
about all that you see passing by us this day.”
“Well of course I do,” I said with a grin,
then at once I started to feel rather thin.
“We all have opinions,” I began to defend,
“opinions are something on which we depend.
They help us to know what is right and what’s wrong.
They help us to know how to best get along.
I like to know that folks think well of me,
I like to be liked by the people I see.
And sometimes I even like to impress,
it’s a feeling I sometimes enjoy, I confess.”
Sam leaned backward and pulled his mustache.
He spoke very slowly, his speech was not rash.
“The opinions of others are valid, it’s true,
but they should not dictate what you think, feel or do.
To be at the whim of what others are thinking
can cause your own sense of self to start shrinking.
Then soon you might find that you spend every day
nervously fearing what others might say
about what you’re wearing or what car you own,
or how your hair looks, or your mailing code zone.
You’ll start craving approval and good words to hear,
every insincere compliment you will hold dear.
And if you’re not careful, here’s how it could go,
you’ll devote your whole life to producing a show.
You’ll want bigger houses and fancier clothes
to impress other people you don’t even know.
It’s a pointless endeavor that just leads to strife
when the opinions of others consume your whole life.
There is only one person you need to impress,
and I bet if you try you could probably guess.
“Go ahead, take a stab, what do you think?”
He shot me a smile and a quick little wink.
“Here is a hint to help make it fair,
this person is wearing your underwear.”

Just like it is important for us to clean the hard drive on our computers of junk that may accumulate on it, I believe we should periodically run our opinions through three clean-up checks. 1) Are these opinions doing us a disservice, harming us in some way? 2) Can I identify the source of an opinion to see if it may have originated from a faulty source? 3) Is this an opinion that is no longer valid at this point in time? Things change. We change. I remember a period when my daughters were young teenagers and the Spice Girls seemed to be the most important thing in their world. Of course, that is just funny to them now.

Our opinions are in many ways the seedbed of our beliefs. Our beliefs drive our actions, which shape our lives. When you think of it this way, a good old spring-cleaning might be a good idea. I am always reminded of something I was told by a very wise man when I was a much younger man: “Remember, opinions are like armpits, we all have them and they usually stink.”

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