Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today I Choose...

We are defined by our choices, and today I choose to be present with and for my husband and my children.  And today I choose to believe the best of others.

It's only natural that we humans view the world through the lens of our experiences, and a thousand times a day, we make snap judgements about whatever is going on around us, based on our own knowledge.  Do I have enough time to pull out and complete my turn before that oncoming car reaches the intersection?  Can I jump over that puddle, or should I go around?  Or should I, perhaps, jump in, making the biggest splash I possibly can?  Oh, that poor, tired, overworked mommy with the screaming toddler...sure glad it's not me...at least, not today.  Is that email forward true, or just an urban legend?

We literally would not be able to function if we didn't make these instant judgements.  Unfortunately, however, we humans are not all knowing, all seeing beings.  We do not know what other people are thinking, what their motivations are, what their hopes and dreams and fears are.  We only know what we know, what we've experienced.  I tend to see the effect of others' actions and I assume that the effect achieved was the effect desired. 

For example, if the words or actions of another person hurt my feelings, I assume that they said or did whatever it was because they wanted to hurt my feelings.  I know, that's a bit narcissistic of me, to assume it's all about me.  Most likely that person didn't have a clue that they were hurting me.  But think about it.  Don't you do the same thing?  Think of all the assumptions and misunderstandings that have scarred your relationships through the years.  I think that if we truly believed the best of each other, we would relate in a whole different way.

One of my best friends started having children quite a few years after I did.  I don't know how many times she has said to me, after having children of her own, about one aspect of parenting or another, "now, I understand."  I truly cringe to think about what she must have thought about my interactions with my children before she became a parent--I'm sure there were more than a few unuttered "why would she do that"s running through her head.  But really, I can't blame her for thinking whatever it was she thought regarding my actions.  She had only her own, non-parental, experiences to shape her thinking.  And to tell the truth, I probably had some of those same judgements myself, pre-children.

This weekend, I spent a lovely couple of days hanging with some terrific women, and one of the things we did together was go to a comedy improv show.  An hour or so before we went, one of the women mentioned that her husband didn't want her to go, because, in his experience, comics are rude and crude, and he didn't want her exposed to that (let me just say, that I wouldn't want to expose her, or myself, to that kind of thing, either).  He made a judgement, based on his knowledge and experience, and he was wrong.  We had such a great time!  The actors played improv games similar to those played on "Whose Line is it Anyway," which you may remember aired on ABC quite a few years ago.  It was not rude or crude--it was just plain fun.

We humans, we don't see the big picture.  We don't know how everything fits together, and we have no business going around making judgements about one another based on our own limited perspectives, because a lot of the time, maybe even most of the time, we're wrong.  Just plain wrong.  So today, I choose to believe the best of others, especially of those I love the most. 

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