Shifts in Thought

After the wake of Friday’s tragedy, I found myself profoundly affected by the entire event, searching for some sort of meaning, some sort of understanding, and wishing that there was something I could do.

But what can I do?  I’m 3,000 miles away, with no personal connection to any of the victims, with limited means of income.  Yet I noticed a sudden shift Friday afternoon that had been brewing underneath the surface for a while now.  It’s been a progression, a constant evolution to this point where I am doing my best to put it into words.

I want to apologize, first and foremost, if this note seems preachy in any way whatsoever.  That is not my goal.  I don’t wish to stand on a soapbox and tell you what you should think, how you should act, how you should be.  I have no control over your choices, and it’s not my place do so.  All I can do is share my experience with you, and leave it as that:  an experience, a story, a lesson in humility.

A few weeks ago, I went out to a restaurant I had frequented several times before with never a problem, however, this evening the restaurant was particularly busy.  My first experience began when the hostess asked for my name, and after I gave it to her, she asked me to repeat myself.  No problem.  I did.  And she asked me to repeat it again.  I did, and spelled it for her.  She then proceeded to call me by the wrong name even so.  I was a little irritated, but I let it pass.  Even with the popularity of the Harry Potter books, it’s still not a common name people encounter.  Fine.  Moving on.

I was seated at a table, in the furthest reaches of the restaurant, and my waitress came to greet me.  She was new, and said as much.  Her energy was high, as she was clearly excited for her new job, and eager to please.  I gave her my order, and she disappeared in the back.

After about 25 minutes of waiting, the waitress arrived with a tray of food.  Unfortunately, it was the wrong order, for the wrong table.  She whisked it away after I brought it to her attention, but then this meant I still had to wait an additional 10 minutes for the waitress to return and give me my order.  I was finally able to eat, but a bit upset at the quality of service that I was receiving.

I finished eating, my plates were taken away, and the bill arrived.  I was a party of one, and when I looked down to see the amount, I was stunned.  I had received a bill for another table to the tune of $259.00.  Another mistake.  I waited, and waited, and waited, as the waitress hurried past, another waiter hurried past, all the while trying to get their attention so the matter could be corrected.  Eventually I caught someone’s eye, explained the situation, and the appropriate bill arrived tableside.

I was ready to leave at this point, and whipped out my card.  But no attention was paid.  Another five minutes.  ANother ten minutes.  Finally, I got up and went to the front of the restaurant, and handed it to the hostess, along with the bill, asking her to run my card.  She did so, and printed the receipt.

Perhaps it was the fact that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or traffic was frustrating, or there were other personal problems going on in my world.  Regardless, I allowed that one incidient to inform the decision that I made next.  I wrote the tip amount in at 15%, but across the top of the receipt, I wrote, “Exceptionally bad service.”

“I’ll take that for you,” a woman said, and I handed her the receipt, and noticed it was my waitress.  I saw her face as she saw the words at the top, and I was too embarrassed to say anything, and I left.

I sat in the car, feeling instantly remorseful that I had allowed all of the events of the day, this one experience to mar someone else’s day.  Because in the larger scheme of things, I realized that this was simply one meal, on one day, that would not be mentioned again until this posting.

It also went against everything I do my best to achieve daily, living life with a kind heart, a kind word, and a cheerleader for others.  But the wheels were set in motion, and a shift was afoot.  It was a small move, but an important one.

This past election was brutal.  I saw friends, family, people I love dearly get into heated arguments regarding their particular brand of politics.  People who were once allies suddenly sniping at each other from the safety of their computer.  What could have been civil discussions over very important issues turned ugly and bitter, with name calling ensuing, without an ounce of compassion for the person they were supposedly dialoguing with, but in reality, practicing a well-rehearsed monologue.  I did my best to stay out of the frey as much as humanly possible.

This also served as a fundamental shift in my daily understanding of who I am and how I interact with people.

And then, Friday, when the lives of not only 20 children and six staff members was changed forever, but their siblings, their mothers, their fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, friends, neighbors — the list goes on and on and on.  I woke up, and read the news, as I usually do, and didn’t realize I was crying until I felt my tears hit my lips.  Tears of unspeakable sadness for so much innocence lost.  I made a phone call or two to some very important people, just to let them know I was thinking about them, that I loved them, and wandered around sort of confused by the whole situation.

Not that I don’t understand how it happened.  That much is clear.  But why.  Why does it happen?  And then, suddenly opinions were being bandied about, myself included, for stricter gun regulation, a look at the mental health system, protecting our 2nd amendment rights, waging into our 1st amendment rights, blaming this on the President, blaming this on the opposing party, and on and on and on.

I in no way equate my experience at the restuarant or the political season to a tragedy of such proportions.  I only bring these up as key points because they were fundamental turning points in the ever-evolving game of life for this one individual.

Friday evening, I was out, tending to some errands, and the air seemed different.  People seemed a little less hostile, practicing patience, and even smiling at each other.  And suddenly, all of those movements clicked into place.

We have gotten so commonplace about our interactions with people, that simple courtesies are left by the wayside as we go after our ultimate goal.  The things that are drilled into us as children, being polite, treat others with respect and kindness, learning to share, helping someone out has been replaced by vitriolic speech, bullying, and making fun of those less fortunate for a laugh.

For a while now, I have noticed myself saying to myself and others, “Be kind to yourself and to others” more and more often.  Finding the good in what can sometimes be a  dreary, dismal day.  Not ignoring the realities of the world, but perceiving them differently.

In no way, shape or form do I mean to suggest that simply being kinder to people is the answer to every single problem, and especially in a situation where it seems serious mental health issues are at play.  This is a real problem that needs to be addressed by our leaders, from the top down, and quickly to avoid another catastrophe of such senseless violence occurring.  I offer no solutions, as it is a much more complex world than I’m comfortable even discussing as I don’t have the aptitude for providing a solution to what has occurred, only a call for action.

I am, however, suggesting that in order for this dialogue to begin, it may start with us actually being a bit kinder to each other.  Not agreeing with everything the other person says, but to watch what we say in response, to make better, smarter choices about the way we conduct ourselves instead of the negativity that is so often the go-to tool for people.

Maybe this is a Pollyanna view of the world.  Maybe my glasses are rose-colored.  But I will be completely honest — I’d rather live in that world than ever  have first-hand knowledge of the misery and suffering inflicted on innocents this past Friday.

All of these shifts, these thoughts have led up to this one particular stopping point in this journey of my life, and I realize the one thing I can do, 3,000 miles away from what has happened, is to be kinder to myself and those around me.


Posted on December 16, 2012, in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love your posts. You have just been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award!

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