I am waxing introspective again today. This is a pastime that can send my mind into a tailspin.

The first time this happened I was very young. Some book, teacher, television program (although we didn’t have a TV when I was young, so unlikely)…but somewhere I heard that no two snowflakes are alike. This brought to mind how much snow there was in the world. And how quickly snowflakes melted. How could anyone, those mysterious scientists out there, possibly know if there were no two alike? Of course there would be many different ones, but such an absolute statement: No two alike. My mind was off in search of a way to disprove or even test such a theory.

The second time my mind went into a tailspin was in church. I wasn’t really listening to the sermon, more intent on my mother using her long nail to push my cuticles back. This was our regular activity—it kept me from fidgeting—and I was watching the dust motes floating in the light that shone through the stain glassed window. I don’t know if something in the sermon set off my thoughts or if the idea of what was on the other side of infinity popped into my mind unannounced. Regardless, I spent the next hour growing tense with the thoughts of how could there be an end because there was always something beyond that. The image in my mind was of doorways in space. (Later in life I was very happy to learn about curves in space!)

Today’s waxing introspective—which has my mind once more in that “but what if?” state—was the result of a sign I saw on our road. Handwritten on a piece of cardboard the sign read “He-Man party” with an arrow pointing the way. My initial reaction was “give me a break” and a feeling of disgust that someone would label something in such a sexist way.

This thought was quickly followed by questioning myself on my reaction. I am a believer in freedom of speech. A believer in doing the right thing. A believer in allowing everyone to have their own opinion and I know that how and where and with who you grew up impacts your personal values. What right did I have to judge the person throwing the “He-Man” party? Sure, it wasn’t something I agreed with and it left a bad taste in my mouth, but more than likely it was a joke, a fun time for a group of men, and nothing to impinge on my personal freedom. Why does my mind spin at such a thought? Because there are so many “what ifs” involved in our lives right now. So many opinions out there, making their voices heard, angry at one another, hurting (real, physical hurt) one another. But who gets to draw the line? Who gets to say what we can believe, what we can protest, when something moves from freedom of speech to harmful? Because who ever or what ever or when ever someone draws the line, that line is drawn from an opinion. It’s not hard to see that physical harm is over the line, but what about emotional harm? Shame? Guilt? Name calling?

Yes, my mind is indeed spinning. To infinity and beyond. And I’m pretty sure no two opinions are alike.