Crying Wolf

Yesterday I was listening to an interview on CBC of Farley Mowat, by Shelagh Rogers. He was what people call a character, because he obviously did not care one whit what people thought of him, and as such half of what he said was pure poetry, and the other half was outrageous to the point of scandal.

But what struck me most of all is that every single thing that came out of his mouth was just so definitive. He knew who he was, and he had his own worldview totally figured out, and he stated it with absolute confidence. Things that he wasn’t interested in did not concern him. Things that he was interested in, he knew. He just knew. He wasn’t being a blowhard or a know-it-all or an obnoxious douche – rather, he was really charming and smart and convincing and even sensible. But most of all, he was just…sure of himself.

I used to be like that back as a teenager – didn’t we all? There was a time when I knew the truth, the way the world worked, the way things needed to be changed and the ways they needed to stay the same. But the older I got, the more I wondered. The more I saw other points of view, and they seemed valid, too. The more I found myself seeing all sides to every issue, to sympathizing with everything.

To the point where now, I feel like maybe I’m not so sure about anything.

I mean, I have my values, sure. And I know what I want for myself, for my kids, for my community, for this world. But the ground is shifty. Anything can happen – new data, new experiences, meeting a random, well-spoken stranger – that could change my point of view. And I’m open to that. Is that a problem?

It sure would feel good, every now and again, to be as certain as Farley. To feel like this is how it is. Not to be belligerent or closed-minded or rude, but just to be sure. To speak with authority on a subject, with real weight behind it. To know, really know, from my own personal experience, what to expect. How things are, and how they are going to be.

I’m thinking – since Farley was in his 80s during this interview – that maybe this is something that cycles back in time. That it’s a bell curve of uncertainty, starting low as a kid, rising to a peak in our mid-life-crisis years, then dipping back down as we reach the age of no longer giving a heck what the other guy thinks. Maybe I just need to give it time.

Or maybe not. I’m not sure. Maybe that only comes with being a character.

5 thoughts on “Crying Wolf

  1. CapnPlanet

    Great post Lynn. I’m also fascinated by (and envy) people who are so sure of themselves, and I often wish I was more decisive myself. I haven’t listened to the interview yet, but I’m looking forward to it – thanks for the pointer.

  2. It’s funny, at times I can be very decisive and at others, not at ALL. I was even less sure of myself as a teenager though, I think – lower self-esteem. I look at some people that seem to be so sure of themselves and I wonder if they really are, or if they are just better than me at acting like they are.
    My ground is very shifty too, and I *think* that’s a good thing. If it’s not, well, I’ve just accepted that this is how I am. You’re right though, it would be nice to be so certain about some things.

  3. “being open to changing your point of view”…… how CAN that be a problem? Confidence can be found in a willingness to be open and flexible in one’s thoughts & opinions. I think this is a wonderful quality Lynn. Be confident in that.

  4. It’s much easier to make decisions when we have only a little information. Back when we were teenagers, our worlds were smaller and less complicated. Plus, we felt less accountable for our actions. I’m sure there are a lot of teenagers who don’t even think about consequences.

    I’ve gotten a lot better at making decisions this past year when I stopped caring so much. I don’t mean caring less overall. I mean caring very little, if at all, about the people and things that I can live without, while still putting my full effort into the people and things I can’t live without.

    A lot of that requires being able to take the whining that follows from people who don’t make my priority list.

    I’ve also gotten a lot better at accepting less than perfection, weighing the pros of having some time back from *not* thinking everything to death against the cons. Again, it means caring a little bit less. It’s actually pretty liberating.

    I think another big part is convincing yourself (and, if you can, others) that you *are* right. LittleSis is good at that. She makes a decision, and then it is so. Changing her mind isn’t usually an option she gives her self, which allows her to just bulldoze through whatever comes her way. Choosing to deal with what comes is one alternative to trying to pick the best path forward.

  5. I’ve gone both ways.

    I’m more sure of who I am and what is important to me as a person, and I’m far less sure of what my opinions are on various topics. (Who am I going to vote for in the election we’re apparently having next month? No idea.)

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