Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When It’s Not Your Cup of Tea

I‘m a tea drinker. A hot cup of tea can wake me up, calm me down, or offer comfort in stressful situations. There are as many tea options available as there are moods to be in. If you’re not finding one to fit your current craving, you can just create your own. It’s quite versatile.

I’m also a reader. Books can lift my mood, bring me down, offer comfort in stressful situations, and give me an acceptable barrier when I need to withdraw from my surroundings. The wonderful thing about books is that there are also infinite options out there to fit what mood you’re in. Or what mood you want to be in. Books can help with that. As abundant as books are in quantity and expanse of genre, they have one thing in common. They were written.

Just as we don’t know the story inside the book before we’ve read it, we also don’t know the story behind it for the one who has written it. It’s the same concept for anything that’s created. We hear a song, but don’t know where the songwriter is coming from. We admire a piece of art without knowing the motive behind it. We can appreciate an amazing, I mean eyes will roll back in your head amazing, crème brûlée without knowing the life story of the one who prepared it. The common thread that ties these all together is that they are created things. Someone had to put the time, effort, and work into moving these things from thoughts or ideas into substances we can physically enjoy.

I’m thankful there are people out there who are willing to share their creations with me. I have songs that have become personal anthems, I have books that are falling apart because their words are familiar destinations I can revisit as often as I need to. I especially love the friends who can bake amazing chocolate cakes and are happy to share them. **Ahem, you know who you are, and I love you.** Every time we create something we are sharing a little bit of ourselves. Honestly, that takes some courage.

Pardon me, while I wipe the drool from my chin.

So what happens when you hear a song that makes you grit your teeth, or you see art that strikes you as less than amazing, or you read a book that makes your eyes roll in an “I can’t believe this person actually wrote this” kind of way? It happens. We have a few choices. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about things you are morally opposed to. I have my boundaries for what I will read, watch, and listen to. Some words and images just don’t deserve an invitation to take up residence in my memory. But if that isn’t the case, and it is simply a matter of opinion, what do we do when we don’t like something? What happens when it isn’t our cup of tea?

We can say, “No, thank you.”

We can remember that it is still a real person behind the work. We can recognize their creativity without having to engage in it personally. We can throw that book across the room and let it sit there for a while before picking it up and passing it along to someone else who might enjoy it. (Yes, that one is personal experience.) The other thing we can also do is remember that our words are powerful. We can cut, dismantle and destroy with them. Or we can encourage, motivate, and critique with them. I don’t mean blindly tearing into as a form of critique. Constructive criticism and ripping into shreds are two entirely different things. For some reason there are folks out there now-especially in this age of social media and personal stardom- who cling to their right to say anything, and value their own opinions and words more than they do the recipient of their assaults. When it all comes down to a matter of personal opinion and preference, we all have the choice to say, “No, thank you. That’s not my cup of tea,” then go find something that is. I guarantee we'll find something we like, and if we don't we can always create our own. The world is a big place and there is more than enough tea for all of us.

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