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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: 'Don't hold back'

© Another Day in the Country

There are privileges that I’ve claimed as I’ve gotten older. I pretty much wear what I want to wear, without adhering to some social code, and I pretty much say what I want to say. It’s not that I’m attempting to go against the grain or be rude or uncompromising. I just call it the way I see it.

One day, driving in the car with my daughter we were talking about Ramadan. (Yes, I know this sounds like a strange topic, but bear with me.) We have friends in California who are Muslim, and every year, when I’m visiting in the summer, their religious festival of Ramadan occurs and it throws a kink in the works. During Ramadan they do not eat any food or even drink water all day long. Only when it is very dark at night can they eat, so for that reason they eat very late at night and get up at 3 a.m. for breakfast.

That’s the part that I see, the simplistic explanation of a religious celebration. It is somewhat similar, I suppose, to Lent for those of Catholic faith. It is meant to be a time of prayer and contemplation for the believer and the food restriction is to remind you of your spiritual connections.

So, back to driving along in the car. We’d just been with our friends. We’re eating our popcorn at the entertainment and drinking water in the heat, and they are fasting.

“I can understand the concept of fasting,” I ranted to my daughter, “but what difference does it make whether you eat in daylight or dark?”

First of all, as certain people tend to do, I was asking the wrong person the question since our friend wasn’t present, and then I was evidently really getting going on the subject, stating all my opinions until my daughter rather quietly said, “Well, Mom, don’t hold back.”

That stopped me in my tracks. Here I was going on and on about a subject that I knew very little about. My exposure to this Islamic custom began in Singapore several decades ago, and at that time it merely meant that restaurants were importing chefs and expanding their evening menus to entice folks in after dark. Now it was closer to home, and I needed a wider perspective.

I started thinking about all the topics I can go on and on about, that differ from the mainstream view. “Don’t hold back” has now become a standard phrase in our family, a gentle reminder that there are other viewpoints and we’ve monopolized the conversation too long with one opinion.

I wish I’d known that phrase while my father was still alive. He loved to expound, especially about subjects that frustrated him. I could have smiled sweetly and said, “Don’t hold back, Dad.”

Contemplating not holding back reminds me of the presidential campaign gearing up, with Trump leading the Republican fray — “Don’t hold back, Donny!” I mumble to the television screen. I sorta understand how he feels as he lets fly with his opinions. He certainly doesn’t strive to be politically correct. I guess it comes with the territory!

In the course of living life, we accumulate knowledge and opinions. It’s a good thing, but just like the computer technology we’ve become so familiar with, some of our knowledge and a host of our opinions need to be updated. I, for one, need to practice holding back a bit.

These drawers of information in my mental file cabinet could stand some sorting. I’m sure that while some of this knowledge I’ve stored away is priceless, there’s probably 25 percent that’s out-dated.

It’s another day in the country and while I’m sure that I’m a fountain of wisdom, today I will try listening attentively to what other people have to say.

When I’m even tempted to hold forth on some topic, I’ll say to myself, “Whoa, Nellie! Easy! Hold back there a bit. You can write about it next week.!”

Last modified Oct. 28, 2015

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