Thursday, October 18, 2012

Opinions Worth Having

I'll start with the obvious: an election is looming in the U.S. I've already voted a backup ballot. If my regular ballot, which I have also completed, doesn't get there in time, I'm covered.

In other words: I'm done.

Being in the U.S. for a week gave me lots of opportunities to experience others' opinions. Most noticeably and loudly, opinions about political candidates and ballot initiatives.

But also opinions about
* window, aisle, or middle seat?
* near the off-duty pilot or in a row that might, if you're lucky, remain empty?
* red or white (customer service reps at Oregon wineries are such good sports)
* celery or no celery?

Celery? Really? Yes. I have met two people with a distinct dislike of celery. To me, this is a little like disliking water: maybe not the most exciting thing ever, but not much to object to, either. But everyone has different palates, different likes and dislikes, different buttons that are pushed by different things.

I used to have firm opinions about the best place to sit in airplanes, the must-have equipment while vacationing somewhere, the maximum price to pay for a twelve-hour stay in a motel room. But as I've aged, I've become more mellow. In some situations, striving to maintain or enforce a previous opinion of "optimal" or "limit" is a lot more energy than I am willing to expend.

However, I vote with more defined opinion than ever before. Increasingly, I believe in the importance of speaking up, even if I am the proverbial Democratic tree falling in the indifferent Republican forest of my  home state. I'd love for others to hear me -- but even if they don't, I hear me. I know I'm speaking my truth. And that's what counts.

Yes, writing is similar. While everyone wants accolades -- publications, awards, money, fans -- those may or may not come. I can't control that element of the work. But I can control the fact that I'm writing, day in and day out, I speak my truth to the page. And that counts for something.

So: speak up. Vote. Write.