That Which May Not Be
As I've mentioned recently, I am working with a really juicy commitment to my aliveness...
I commit to BEING fully alive, living in my love and doing whatever it takes to clear anything that is blocking me.
This commitment has had me looking around experiences that capture what I believe love looks and feels like. It has also brought to the surface thought patterns I never realized I had, as well as elements of a judgmental attitude I am ashamed to have discovered. These thoughts and patterns are what is keeping me from fully being alive and in love. Consciously I am generous with my love for humanity. Consciously I give the people around me lots of latitude and I'm willing to hold space for the possibility that what I am seeing with my primary vision is not the whole story.
However, underneath that... in the subconscious/unconscious areas of my mind... there are insidious thought patterns that were created, at one point, as a defense mechanism to keep me alive and safe. I'm grateful for these programs for that very reason - they got me here - AND it's time to recognize them, disassemble them and put in their place programs that are truly supportive and embrace who I am at the core, rather than guarding it with hyper-vigilance.
One of the places that these programs are rearing their heads is at the local jail. One of my loved ones has made some unwise decisions that have landed him behind bars for an indeterminate amount of time. It is a long, tedious process to see a prisoner and many of the visitors are quite irritable about it. About a month ago, the jail "upgraded" their computer system which has all but brought the laborious protocol to a halt and has resulted in ever-growing lines and frustrated visitors as we move from one long line to the next to yet another.
In this space, I focus on finding my love and really grow it to envelope myself and my daughter. The other night was exceptionally tense in the lobby and as I sauntered along from one line to the next, I passed a woman who I had never seen before. She stared me down aggressively with what I judged to be total loathing. I stared back and smiled timidly. Her face did not change and I hustled to join my daughter who was marking our space in the third line.
I whispered to my daughter, "That woman in the striped shirt is really rude. She's ticked off about something, so stay clear."
Nothing in my life could have prepared me for this ongoing experiment in human interactions and that night, I felt scared. We shuffled slowly through the third line, through the security scanners and into the "holding tank" where a guard comes in, does roll call and announces our individual visitation cells. My daughter and I sat as far away as possible from the woman in the striped shirt.
At the end of the process, they guard always asks if everyone has been called. The woman in the striped shirt stood up and I felt myself attempt to slide into the wall. Then she pointed to her ears and in the awkward language of the deaf, she drug out of her mouth the words, "I'm deaf. Please show me."
I wanted to cry in that moment. If I was having this intense of an experience with all of my senses working overtime and on high alert, I couldn't imagine how intense it would be if I was unable to hear what was happening. I had so harshly judged the woman in the striped shirt, based on how I perceived her to be reacting to me. For all I know, she hadn't even been looking at me but had been, rather, staring into space feeling frightened and unsure when I happened to walk through her line of vision.
I share this because it is a lesson that comes to me at times to remind me that I can never know what is happening for the other person whom I am judging. I know that it is human nature to judge - it's instinct and what has kept our species alive for thousands of years. However, it also can become the wedge that keeps us separated from one another.
I commit to remembering that I am human - as are you, as was that woman in the striped shirt - and in our humanness, there is messiness. Angie - and anyone else reading this - I invite you to breathe deeply when you find yourself judging another and remember that sometimes things aren't what they seem.
© Angie K. Millgate 12/6/09