Sunday, 5 September 2010

Being the Soul of Tact

I came across this marvellous quote in a novel of David Guterson, (of Snow Amongst Cedars fame). This novel is called "The Other". The main character feels that he is socially much more of a success if he keeps his occasionally tactless mouth shut and he remembers a (presumably fictional) novel that he has read entitled, "Mouth Open, Already a Mistake" by a Zen master. This really struck a chord with me, particularly as friends and I were discussing over coffee one day that as our extended families become even more so with the addition of in-laws and grandchildren, if we are to maintain our specious popularity with the whole lot, it is better to simply button one's lip in potentially sensitive situations, e.g. our old-fashioned opinions about child-rearing, when to introduce solids etc usually fall upon stony ground. Of course, there is a fine line to be recognised between interfering and merely proferring well-intentioned advice or being interpreted as simply not interested. No matter. The best course is just to keep quiet. I've learned this the hard way. Nice to know one is not alone though.


  1. I'm learning how to keep my mouth shut unless one of my offspring asks for my opinion. Even then, I'm careful to point out it's just that - my opinion.

    Actually, I know the best way, but they don't care about that!