Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Acting to quickly

“Think quickly but speak slowly”. I am not sure where I read that or heard it, but it is such a good thought for our daily lives, well mine at least.

A couple of days ago I slipped and fell at a gas station. I have also written of how icy it is here in Winnipeg right now. That ice make driving difficult but possibly even more dangerous for just walking. Bumps, ridges, uneven spots make the ice uneven to walk on. With each step you could find you foot suddenly sliding in one direction or another.

That is exactly what happened to me. I slipped, fell and wacked my head on the way down. Now as I was trying to get up I slipped and fell again, this time on to my chest. Now to add insult to injury, when I did regain my footing, I saw a Lady laughing at me. OK, she was trying her best to hide it, or suppress it.

Now my first reaction was of embarrassment, then of, how dare she be laughing at me. Like, doesn’t she have any feelings, I could have been seriously hurt. Now I am almost embarrassed to admit it but for the briefest moment some of my “old way of thinking” arose. Some how I began to become more upset at the fact that she was laughing than I was at actually having taken the fall. Huh, go figure that…. embarrassment I guess. But, suddenly here I was upset with her and she had absolutely nothing to do with it. There was a time when I may have actually said something to her, but I didn’t I just tried to pretend nothing had happened. Inside though I was still upset with that lady.

Now how did that happen? I wasn’t as upset with the icy conditions or with myself for not being careful enough. My ire some how became directed towards some poor lady that had nothing to do with it. Thankfully I did nothing to make her aware of my anger.

“Think quickly, speak slowly.” Once words are spoken they can never be taken back, just as you can’t unring a bell.

I have had time to think on it and realize I am sure I provided quite a funny sight, arms and legs flailing in every direction. It likely seemed obvious I wasn’t hurt as I was quickly trying to get up. She couldn’t have known I wacked my head, (head is fine but still have a sore neck). If I was in her position would I have laughed, I don’t think so but who knows. Let’s face it if we see something funny laughing is a natural reaction and maybe try as I might I may have laughed.

I took it personally, she was laughing at me. Given just a little time though I realized she wasn’t laughing at me. She was laughing at the show I was inadvertantly putting on. There is a huge difference between the two. While my initial reaction was negative, I can now say to the Lad, who ever you are, I am glad to have given you a moment of laughter, and I do mean that.

I have to wonder about how many times through my life, I may have complicated a situation or over reacted based on in initial preceived thoughts. How many times have I instantly “known” what is happening and reacted on what I “knew”. Only to later find, geesh, I wish I had just kept my mouth shut. What I thought I “knew” wasn’t the case at all. Can anyone relate to this?

9 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Acting to quickly

  1. ThomasLB says:

    I would temper it by saying “Be slow to voice negative things, but quick with the positive things.”

    You’ll never regret saying “Good job!” or “I love you!” – but you will regret not saying them.

    Thomas, Excellent points

  2. Mel says:


    There’s a hard learned lesson for me.

    NO one has ever accused me of being ‘shy’ or ‘demure’. Quick tounged, yup…..*sigh* I was always SURE people wanted to know that wonderful opinion of mine.

    WPIML helped me learn a bit of humility and had me measuring what I was about to say with three ‘qualifiers’:
    Is it necessary, kind and true?

    If it didn’t fit all three–I had to work it out til it did fit. Which accounts for many many MANY whaps to the back of the head for when I gave myself permission to speak withOUT qualifying what I was saying.

    It took a whole lotta practice, honestly.
    And sometimes I have to remind myself ‘necessary, kind and true?’….but I’ve managed to get pretty disciplined in it.
    And I’m not having to go back and clean up the mess I’ve made with my mouth NEAR as much as I used to!

    …..’cept when I’m wordy…..which I just was…..
    AGAIN!!!! (still? yet?!)



  3. Mel says:

    Ummmmm…..you’re ‘okay’ right?

    Bruised ego aside…….

  4. I can totally identify with what has been said! Excellent blog!

  5. Jo Hart says:

    Geeze Bill, I will give you my sister in law. She puts the mouth into gear before the brain even has a chance to realise what she has done or said. She can cut you in two just with that tounge of hers. I’ll give you an example. As you are aware Dad had all that trouble over Christmas with his heart. Yesterday he fell ill again. Of course naturally I come into work and talk with my brother about Dad slowing down, even retiring…. All of a sudden I burst into tears, as the mear thought of loosing him, is just not even an option… (Yes I know denial). Any way in all of her wisdom, my sister in law goes, yeah I have him dead in 6 months……….. (Yes Gobsmacked I Know). Who in their right mind does or says that. My reaction was just to walk away, as I didn’t quite know whether to cry louder, punch her smug face, or scream…. So I walked away. Tha back of my brain though was telling me to flog her…. But I didn’t. So there you go, that’s just one example of her mouth, I could write a book on it…….

  6. Irene says:

    Dear Bill,
    Wow, another life lesson to learn today!! Many thanks to Mel for the quick lesson to think about before I open my mouth: necessary?? kind?? true?? Such a simple test…why didn’t I think of that??? I too have a tendency to shoot off at the mouth first and think later. I also (just like Mel) think that people actually want to hear what little wisdom I have gleaned–NOT!! I’m headed off to Belgium this weekend so I’ll be sure to use the three quick “filters” to any of my comments.
    Thanks for the help. Thinking of you and sending blessings and gratitude, Wiseman.

  7. Dear Bill,
    I love the distinction you make at the end between her laughing at your “show” and laughing at you. It reminds me so much of my late wife’s attitude toward living with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
    I recently posted a poem “The Amusement Park” and a piece of writing she did called “It’s the Little Things I Miss” on a website I recently created: http://www.livinginlightofdying.com. I think you will enjoy both…and I invite you to share your blog on my site.

  8. anne says:

    Once, when I was a teenager, I saw my mother fall down a flight of stairs. My immediate reaction was to laugh, my next to hide, because I couldn’t stop laughing and I think I was as horrified by my own reaction as any bystander who saw it might have been. My brother rushed to her aid, I rushed to hide.

    So I kind of relate to the woman in your story, I might have laughed too. Inappropriate to be sure, and maybe as embarrassing to her as being laughed at was to you. Don’t know.

    Hi Anne, welcome to the site and thank you for leaving your comment. From the tone of your comment and I could be wrong but I almost take it that you are beating yourself up at least to some degree for laughing as you did. I can only urge you not to do that. Yes, I did feel a little miffed at that lady for a minute or two. But, I realized she was likely not actually laughing at me but likely more at the show I was putting on, with arms and legs flying in every direction. Looking back I can see that likely it was quite comical to look at. Now I am even glad I was able to give her at least a little chuckle in her day.
    Feelings are individual and personal within each of us. Each may react slightly differently to any given situation. Now remember I am no doctor here, this is all according to “Bill.” Outwardly everyone can show feelings differently and there is nothing wrong with that. That is what makes us human. Some when scared or nervous will giggle or laugh. I think it is like an internal survival technique or something. Nothing “wrong” with your reaction. I hope you realize that

  9. roy says:

    Hi Bill. Good to catch up with you the other day. The telephone can erase thousands of miles in a heartbeat.
    We covered a lot of ground but still have a lot of catching up to do.
    I am going to take up your challenge of trying to contribute to the blog, not as your younger, devilishly handsome cousin with the disarming smile and rapier wit, but as the funeral director/embalmer with over 25 years experience dealing with families at a pretty interesting time of their life.
    First point is this is not intended in any way to be a sales pitch! You guys are on your own if you have to activate my advise. The advise is free (unless you think its valuable, then I’ll find a way to invoice you for it!!)
    A retired United Church minister, Reverend Bill Burgess, once told me a fantastic piece of advice, “Those who are prepared to die can get on with the fine art of living”. Please re-read this about a hundred times.. it’s applied in a practical sense, a theological sense and in a even romantic sense.
    We as Judea-Christians get so caught up with avoiding our own mortality, we tend to forget how easy it is to live. We all tend to avoid talking about death…especially our own.
    Old saying: ‘two thing in life are for certain – death and taxes.” Try telling a cashier in a mall you are trying to avoid talking about taxes. She will give you “the look” and then add the obligatory 5% gst and & 7% Pst. ***By the way G.S.T usually stands for Goods & Services Tax, but to a funeral director , it stands for Grave Side Tax!!***
    It does no good to avoid tax talk, but lets get realistic about death. It makes life really fun.
    I recently did a funeral for a 27 year old girl. No warning. I am doing a funeral for a 14 day old baby. No chance given. I can site hundreds of examples.
    (truth is I have an incredible memory for facts unless I owe you money or I dated your sister.)
    Everybody should sit down with their family and have a very serious talk about their own funeral. Really.. That should happen. How do I broach this sensitive topic with my own loved ones? (Note.. the term “loved ones” is term that is over-used and it tends to piss me off when I hear it, but I was compelled to use it once for all of you. from this point on I will be saying “family” or a reasonable facsimile thereof)
    You can start with relating an experience of a funeral/memorial service you attended. “I really agreed with Uncle Walter’s choice of cremation after the service.” or “I would rather be buried in my home town next to Mom & Dad than in one the large city cemeteries” Baby steps. Probably not a topic to discuss over Christmas dinner or a your grandson’s baptism/bris.
    Here’s the really really cool thing…once you have this discussion, you NEVER have to have it again. They understand and they can follow your lead. Better yet, make your own funeral arrangements. Write them down and leave them with somebody you trust. It takes about 1/2 hour. Pick your music, pick your eulogist, pick your final disposition. Then move on. Enjoy each and every day without the worry of “what will happen when I die?”
    Crazy thing is we can spend countless hours planning our retirement, but there is no guarantee that we will ever get there. I am fairly certain we will all reach our demise. Plan it, then move past it.
    “Those who are prepared to die can get on with the fine art of living”. Make your peace with anyone you need to.. God, family, friends, whomever. This is not the huge event of asking for eternal forgiveness, blah, blah, blah. This is taking the time to reach out to those who are important to you and say “hello”. They will reciprocate in kind. Stay in touch always, and they will always stay in touch.
    Oh yeah!..God knows you are there. He knows what you are up to, how you feel and where you are headed. He just stays out of your business. He doesn’t just pick up the phone when you are calling (usually collect) at the last minute asking for eternal salvation. He loves to hear from you on a regular basis, even when things are not so good. And He is awake to do business when your ready (24/7, 365 days/year..yes Jo Hart, even in Queensland!!)
    The rule of thumb is this….shed the burdens, tackle the tasks and enjoy life (and only drink good scotch)
    Bill, you have been given an amazing gift (as we all have. Its called TOMORROW!! I am glad you are sharing it with all of us. Hope you had a great weekend of R&R.
    BTW.. I can guarantee three things (this is for Mel)
    1. death
    2. taxes
    3. and that my beloved Maple Leafs will bring a Stanley Cup home to Toronto before the Jets bring one back to Portage & Main!!

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