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Success Harmony Newsletter
The old woman in the restaurant looked like she must have had a stroke,
although I couldn't tell if it was recent or if it had happened a long time
ago. Her face was stiff and hung at an angle. Her hair seemed to be picking
up bits of the yolk on her plate. Her left hand was shaking as she was trying
to put food in her mouth. Each bite seemed to take a few minutes from when
her fork left the plate to when it finally arrived at her mouth. She seemed
like the kind of person drivers hate to see crossing the street because
they have to wait until she slowly shuffles her way across. You know what
I mean. Drivers either look uncomfortably straight ahead, pretending not
to notice. Or they lean out of windows and yell, "hey, Grandma, get
moving, I've got places to go and I wanna get there today still!"
To me, the hero of this scene in this fully-packed Manhattan restaurant
during weekday lunch was the woman sitting across from the old woman. Most
likely, this was the old woman's daughter. The look on her face did not
have a whiff of impatience. She radiated with love and encouragement. No
sense of judgment, no sense of obligation, no sense that she felt sorry
for her mother in any way, no sense that she was there because she feared
her mother might not be around much longer. Each time a piece of food arrived
close to her mother's face, the daughter's face filled with pride. It was
obvious that there was no place the daughter would rather be in that moment.
Just a daughter and her mom enjoying their breakfast time together, creating
a memory that would last despite the simplicity of the moment.
It is difficult enough to pay that much attention to someone who is not
disabled in any way. Add a disability of any kind and few of us can claim
that we can stay that present and kind with a person. But when we do, the
disabilities become smaller. When we are impatient or criticize, it is as
if the disabilities become bigger and bigger. If the daughter had said,
"hey Mom, you obviously can't do this on your own, let me feed you",
somehow the mother would become even less able. This way, as the daughter's
eyes sparkled with pride watching her mother, it seemed that the old woman
was probably performing tasks that were beyond her physical abilities. I
could have imagined that her doctors may have said she would never be able
to feed herself again. Yet there she was, with egg hanging off her hair
but making miracles happen.
Maybe it is easier to say, "Of course it is obvious that you should
allow a poor woman after a stroke to finish her meal, especially if it's
your own mother. It is obvious that her coordination isn't what it used
to be. How could you be judgmental or impatient with that?" Maybe so.
But how about the numerous smaller disabilities and bad habits we are unwilling
to tolerate with our loved ones and strangers alike, every single day? How
about the confused driver who slows down unexpectedly as she is trying to
find where she is going? How about the new office worker having made the
same mistake for the fifth time? How about the person with poor English
you who is slowing down the bank line-up with his inability to communicate
his wishes to the clerk? How about the screaming boss who has no respect
for the value of our work? How do we judge those people? As stupid people
or jerks whose main job is to mess up our oh-so-important busy lives? Or
do we honestly have the ability to be fully present with them? Not because
we feel sorry for them or obligated to do so, but because we are interested
The daughter in the restaurant taught me something and I hope I won't forget
any time soon. Lack of judgment isn't about just tolerating the time with
someone else who might be different than us, and it isn't about our egos
and being able to say that we are good people by being helpful to others.
Lack of judgment is about truly and honestly wanting to see others succeed.
And funny enough, the more we are willing to see people as bigger than they
might be in the moment, the bigger they become. When they do, we become
bigger as well. It is as if each kindness ultimately leads back to us anyway.
So why not make today a non-judgment day? As you go throughout your day,
notice when you might normally get impatient or righteous with someone.
And then see if you can change your mind. See what you think that person's
potential is and then hold that image out there. See what happens to them.
Do their actions change at all? Do they look a little different? Notice
how you feel when you walk away from that interaction. It just may change
your outlook on yet another day of same-old, same-old.
Happy non-judgment day, sunshine and smiles,
"To the world, you
may be one person. To one person, you may be the world."
is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in
others is the true test."
"Patience is something that
most people want...quickly."