You wouldn’t be ashamed

I photographed these parrots at Disney World, where they tactfully refrained from speaking. August 2003

I photographed these parrots at Disney World, where they tactfully refrained from speaking. August 2003

“So live that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.”
Will Rogers

We don’t have a family parrot, but we have something a bit more risky: a son with an exceptional auditory memory (which tested at the level of a 13-year-old when he was in kindergarten) and a love of repeating things that he hears.  Matt also has the knack of unintentionally leaving out relevant parts of the story in such a way as to confuse or mislead his listeners.  Suffice it to say that we’ve become somewhat careful about what we say around him!

Still, he has always known, even from a very young age, not to repeat certain words.  When we moved to Hawaii in 1993, he was only seven years old.  On the airplane he was seated next to a woman who had more than a bit too much to drink, and she struck up a conversation with Matt.  Unfortunately, her language was not rated PG or even PG-13, and Jeff eventually called a halt to the conversation emphatically enough that her offensive language dried up immediately.  We worried for a time that we might hear Matt repeating some of the vulgar or profane words she said, but we never did.

In any case, Rogers has some sound advice here.  Even if no one else hears the things we say, we hear them, and we have no business filling our own ears with what doesn’t bear repeating.  Let’s practice saying only things that are useful, good, positive, uplifting, kind, honest or otherwise commendable.  Some of us will have a much harder time with this than others (I plead guilty!!!) but we will enjoy our own company more if we master this discipline.

SO, what’s happening with you today?  Tell me something good!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Chris

    HI Julia! Good Monday morning! Just another day in paradise here in NW Florida. Those birds are colorful! When I see parrots or similar birds, I think “tropical”, or “rain forest”. Funny how certain images conjure the imagination. I even hear a little Jimmy Buffet playing in the background. 😊
    I am with you on this one. What we say can have a powerful impact. And the choice is ours. I, too, am guilty of reckless chatter that needn’t have been verbalized. In the book of James, we’re taught to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Wise words indeed. I’ll continue to practice.
    Wishing you and Matt a wonderful week.

    • I totally love those scarlet macaws. They are so bright and colorful, it’s hard not to be “uncheered” as Pooh used to say. And yes, they bring on thoughts of the tropics, which are more agreeable in the winter than in this long string of 90 degree VERY humid weather we’re enduring now!

      The book of James is one I need to read again and again because it’s so powerful and so relevant to my life, it makes me uncomfortable. The part that really gets me is what he says farther along in that same chapter you quoted, in verse 26 where he says, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” WOW. I’m doing good to keep any kind of rein, let alone a tight one! 😀 Hope you have a great week too and send us some sea breezes to cool things off!

      • Chris

        Ha! That’s good. I am so “challenged” to think before I speak. Had such an encounter today during work. I waxed and waned on and on about something that the person on the other end of the phone couldn’t care less about, but listened dutifully. Afterward, I was demoralized for letting such a small problem get under my skin, so to speak.
        Well, I will do better tomorrow. 😊
        I will speak to the ocean about your request! Hope you get the gentle breeze, and not the hurricane! 😬 Cheers!

        • Chris, tonight I was out raking leaves (yes, a few of my trees seem to lose their leaves early each year, which feels incongruous in midsummer) and in the stifling heat, I thought I detected just the faintest trace of a breeze. No hurricanes so far, though I did hear some distant thunder and got a tiny bit of misty rain, both of which were welcome.

  2. Susan

    Julia, at parents’ night our kindergarten teacher used to say, “I’ll promise to believe only half of what I hear about you if you promise to believe only half of what you hear about me” 🙂 !

    • Susan, that’s PERFECT! 😀 And probably a good rule to follow about everyone, all through life.

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