Monday, November 4, 2013

A Night at the Emotional Opera

A handful of days ago, I ventured down south about an hour to see my cousin Ben in a operatic performance of "Die Fledermaus," one of my favorite operas. I was able to see my aunt and uncle, as well as visit my former college campus; the night away from being a capital-M mom was also quite nice. The opera was lovely and inspired me, once again, to express myself creatively.

Afterwards, the whole Ben fan club (consisting of most of my uncle's brothers, their spouses, and his parents) all hung out in an upper-class after party. We chatted about high-minded topics and someone ate animal-style fries, which decidedly brought the whole thing down a notch (it was me, of course). Being in such a fun group was just what I needed to feel like a real person again.

Ben rode shotgun in my car while we drove around to the various festivities, which gave us a great chance to talk about millennial topics without The Man holding us down. I don't remember which tangent brought us to it, but suddenly Ben uttered one of the bravest things a person can say to another person:

"Your opinion means a lot to me."

How much more baldly can one crack open their heart and invite someone to break it into a million pieces? I would vouch that there isn't much, short of shifting from the metaphorical to the literal.

Since that night, I have been stuck on that phrase. Every angle I analyze it with has presented a new way to view my interpersonal relationships. To whom does my opinion matter, and how careful do I need to be with them? Who can I pinpoint as someone I should encourage more? Where can I find more inspiration to allow myself to be vulnerable to others? And, whose opinion means a lot to me?

I am almost 30 years old, and though it sounds presumptuous, I want to be a mentor. Through my example and my thoughtful study, I want to be a source that others can use to achieve their goals. Ideally, I would have been an Italian patron in another life. You need some money to be artsy? Here you go.

But I don't have money to give.

The only thing I have is a well-seasoned opinion about what I like, as well as a trustworthy reputation for saying when I don't like something. You can count on me to not slash and burn at your heart, though. That's not my intended business.

I told Ben honestly what I thought about his performance and the opera in general. We talked about the highs and lows of the night, as well as the performances of the future. Having such intellectual conversation is a welcome relief from the My Little Pony and Super Hero Squad talk that's typical of my days.

However, what we did not talk about was how impressed I was with Ben's willingness to share his feelings with me. That probably would have been the most important thing I could have said that night, so I am rectifying that now, these handful of days later.

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