As a staunch cynic, it is all too easy to define that which I do not believe, as opposed to what I do believe; but this much I know—I believe in the grain of salt.
We all have at least one person in our lives that is overly critical; someone who always has to make a comment, voice their opinion in a less than tactful manner. My mother always used to tell me after one of those comments was made to me to “take it with a grain of salt.” That grain of salt has prevented numerous arguments, but has also inspired assessments of those comments. I search for any nugget of truth in those otherwise spiteful comments, and from that truth decide how to respond; the response may start a discussion or it may motivate a change in my own life.
Some may think the grain of salt to be a loophole or the “easy way out” or simple avoidance. I see it as the yellow light on the proverbial road of life. Yellow lights require a thought process, an evaluation. Green and red lights do not require such analysis; you either go when it’s green or stop when it’s red. Plain and simple. But yellow lights…yellow lights are not so straightforward. They demand more of your attention. Yellow lights incur a series of questions needing to be answered—Can I make it through in time? Is the car ahead choosing to risk it or play it safe? Can I trust the other drivers not to make a decision that would adversely affect me?
Taking something with a grain of salt sets off a similar series of questions, though usually more difficult to answer. This process can reveal quite a lot about your own personality and character, and those of the others involved. The questions I ask myself when taking a situation with a grain of salt unearth my personal beliefs, which can be hard to face, harder to accept, or may just plain surprise me. The grain of salt tests me, tests my beliefs, tests my strengths and weaknesses.
I’m certainly not saying that every situation in life must be approached with the slight skepticism of the grain of salt. I just think that doing so makes many situations easier to digest. This grain of salt curbs my impulsiveness, my instantaneous desire to argue without listening to the other side of the story. It keeps me from freaking out, being irrational, or making a stupid mistake. It lets me roll things over in my mind for a while; it allows me to see both sides of the story, the pros and cons, before I take a definitive stance on the situation. The grain of salt is my constant reminder that other people have beliefs too, and that they may differ from my own. It grounds me, and keeps me from disrespecting others, most especially the people closest to my heart.