On Speaking Impulsively
By RULA AL-NASRAWI
You can edit a comment on Facebook or delete a tweet, but when words are spoken out loud, you can never take them back. I have always been known to speak before I think. My mother sometimes compares me to my father's sister, a compact feisty Iraqi woman who, surrounded by six brothers, developed a sharp tongue that didn't always work out in her favor. You can blame it on genetics but I know in my heart that there are essentially two kinds of people; people who speak too soon, and people who don't really say much of anything at all.
When I think about this past year and everything that has happened, I can draw a line separating these people that always put their foot in their mouth from the wallflowers of society. The drug dealer who spends a lot of time in my building is a loud one; his raspy higher octave voice bounces off the brick buildings so effortlessly that I can almost always hear him wishing a group of children a good day at school or soliciting business from a resident or arguing in Spanish with the super. I'm serious, it doesn't matter if it's 2am or 4pm, this guy is out and he wants you to know it. You could argue that this man always has too much to say. He grew up in our building and only recently had to move to Queens when his mother died, to live in a more affordable place; but he continues to haunt our building like a friendly but slightly tweaked-out ghost. He will tell these stories to anyone that will listen to the point where we now all know his backstory, his current drug of choice, and what he had for breakfast.
There is no middle ground anymore. People can spend an eternity cultivating a persona for themselves but they might never reap the benefits of that cultivation. It's like planting a bunch of seeds and only watering each of them a little. This man with the raspy voice who says too much, wears his heart directly on his sleeve. He has no filter, he acts on impulse, he's a bit of a hedonist. And I would say that while acting on impulse can often get people in trouble, we as a society don't do that enough. We act impulsively online sometimes, but then we delete, we edit, we filter, we add a privacy setting here and a block there. We are guarded.
But if you want to see what America looks like with less of a filter, this year has given us that. It's given us tidal waves of anger on social media and activism in the streets. What people are saying matches what they are actually doing. This year has also given us a lot of sadness along with that fire though. Many lives have been lost on all ends of the spectrum, and now we are all left trying to make sense of it all. We are attempting to explain the reason behind the disasters, like Ancient Greeks telling stories of Gods shaking the skies for thunder and pulling the sun in a chariot for daybreak. A lot has happened this year. A lot of heartache for both people dear to me and people I've never met before. People like the Browns or the Garners or the families of the two police officers who were shot dead.
Impulse is frightening, unpredictable, and not always a good idea by any means. But impulse can also be undressing on a mountain top and watching the sunset alone. Or screaming at your best friend and then making up by popping champagne off the balcony at 3am. Impulse is erratic and wild and completely unscheduled. You can't pencil it in between happy hour and yoga. This year I have said and done some things that may label me in several ways. I may have come off as bitchy, apathetic, lazy. I may have disappointed some people here and there but hey, I would rather be the one that did too much, said too much, let too many people in, every time. May we never do too little, may we always shoot for excess. Let's make some noise in 2015 people, I'm tired of quietly walking on eggshells, aren't you?