Ruminations: Asterisk

I sent a text message the other day. Many of us do this dozens (if not hundreds) of times every day. Except that when I glanced back at the message I sent, I noticed an error. A misspelled word that changed the entire meaning of the text. 

I know exactly what to do, since many of us also notice typos or unintentionally confusing messages after they’ve been sent. We use an asterisk and insert the correct word, trusting that the reader will understand how to substitute our correction into the original message.

Here’s the test I sent.


We so often send mistakes out into the world that we’ve come up with a quick and easy way to correct them. A simple punctuation mark communicates that we noticed an error and want to clarify.

Or maybe more accurately, a simple punctuation mark communicates that we were in such a hurry to send a message that we didn’t read over what we were sending. Even though we make mistakes often enough that we’ve devised a special way of going back and correcting things when we’re moving too fast to be mindful. 

For simple typos, it isn’t really a big deal for me to send a quick correction to clarify what I intend to communicate. But sometimes I might be tempted to send something that doesn’t really match how I want to communicate on a deeper level. Maybe I’m in a hurry to defend myself. Or I just want to offer a quick answer without checking out whether its accurate. Or useful. 

Maybe I’m angry or frustrated or emotionally worn out or just have a lot of plates spinning, and as a result my message is dismissive or hostile or wounding. What’s the asterisk for that? 

*disregard my terseness and vitriol, and see me instead as the person I really wish I had been when I hit Send.

What spiritual habit can I develop so that the communication I send out into the world consistently aligns with my deepest values? It seems simple. Read over every message before I send it, and make sure I’m saying what I really intend to say. Be mindful of my communication rather than in a hurry to just get it done and move on to the next thing. 

And even though correcting a misspelled word is no cause for shame or embarrassment, practicing mindful communication in simple texts is a kind of rehearsal for the times when I need to communicate something more challenging to say clearly. Practicing reading over things ahead of time in a short text helps me also read over things when I’m expressing something that may not be easy for someone else to take in.

Where could a small habit of integrity help you show up consistently as the person you hope to be? Or how do you notice a simple practice of mindfulness making a difference in the larger experience of your life and relationships?