I have an opinion. Here it is: I have way too many opinions.
My ability to formulate an opinion about anything or anyone in ten seconds or less is embarrassing. It’s not just embarrassing; it’s soul-crushing. Let’s see.”The woman in the line ahead of me at the Target checkout is way too old to wear her hair in ponytails. The guy behind me needs to leave at least a square inch of his body tattoo-free. The young woman making seductive eye movements at the tattoo dude is drop-dead gorgeous. Governor Romney is this. President Obama is that. This newspaper is useless. My husband looks more youthful than I do. Blah, blah, blah…ad infinitum.” I can’t hear myself think. But wait, that IS my thinking! I’m thinking in opinions.
Somewhere along the way I learned that having an opinion means you are smart. And having negative opinions means you are really smart and funny and maybe even cute. Trashing a restaurant, a book or another person’s political stance seems way more clever than trying to articulate the positive. But even a positive opinion takes an ironic toll on me. All of my opinions draw lines in the sand and toss everything into tidy, manageable categories.
Constantly creating opinions keeps me from letting new information into my consciousness and my senses–visual, aural, oral, kinesthetic. It narrows my world view and makes me think I’m smart, righteous and in control. Mostly my opinions just bore me and make me cranky. So I’ve started a new practice of withholding my opinion–even from myself. I want to receive what I see, hear, taste, and feel without judging or categorizing it. I want to stay curious and expectant. When I actually manage to do this, I can look at the very large woman in the bright yellow polka-dotted mini-skirt and red Doc Martens and just let my eyes delight in her unique sartorial expression. I can hear peoples’ pronouncements on healthcare without preparing a rebuttal. I can eat new foods and savor their flavor without a quick thumbs up or thumbs down. My heart feels a sense of relief and gratitude with this new freedom.
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2 NIV) I’m tired of being a fool and I want to be more than just the sum of my opinions.