Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Best That You Can Do.
This is not what I was planning to blog today... but then I ran into Sue.
A little background:
A couple of months ago, I was at the gym, working out on one of the machines. An old* lady approached me and told me how beautiful she thought I was. She went on and on, and was so sincere that I just sat with my mouth open before responding to her "Thank you so much for that. I really needed to hear that today." She asked "Did you really?" I told her "Yes. Thank you." And I meant it. (Some days you just need a pick-me-up, ya know?)
Fast forward to today. I had just left the gym, and was headed to Chipotle to pick up lunch & go home. The lot was full, so I parked my car a country-mile away, walked to Chipotle, got my food, and began the trek back to my car. I saw a woman standing next to my car, and tried to assess what she was doing (honestly, as I type this, I realize that I still don't know why she was standing there). As I got closer, I realized that she looked familiar. "Where do I know her from? The gym? I think her name is 'Sue'" ran through my head in a flash. "Are you Sue?" I asked her? She turned to me and said "Yes! Do you know me?" I told her that we had met at the gym, and that I had thought it was her from a distance, but now that I was able to see her beautiful blue eyes (like Paul Newman), I knew for sure. She smiled, and asked me to forgive her if she didn't remember me, but that she was 80 years old and had a hard time remembering faces. I told her that she made 80 look good, and to keep doing whatever she was doing. "You know, you really have to start taking care of yourself at your age so you can keep it together at my age." She said she wished she had known that at my age. I told her she was doing a good job, and she told me "I'm just doing the best that I can." I agreed "That's the best that any of us can do." She went a step further and said "And everybody does, because when you know better, you do better."
And that's when it hit me.
I started doing yoga a lot last year, and while struggling with a pose in the middle of a class, I realized that it's not about putting your leg behind your head or twisting your head 180 degrees while touching the floor - it's about focus and doing the best you can. At that moment I realized that everybody in class was just doing the best that they could, and that it was good enough for that moment. Not everybody is built the exact same way: Some of us have bum knees, others have tight hip joints, some of us have a little more girth in the midsection that doesn't permit us to touch our toes just yet - if ever. And you just do the best that you can.
It felt like a metaphor for life. It's easy to say that the nice people are doing the best that they can, but what about the a-holes?? (Don't act like you don't know who I'm talking about.) I'm talking about those inconsiderate or willfully malicious jackasses that make you want to make up cusswords just to address them properly. Are they doing the best that they can?
As tough as it is for me to remember when they piss me off, I have to answer "Yes, they are." If they knew (I mean REALLY knew) that they and everyone around them would be kinder, more considerate, and more compassionate.
Myself included, since I am well aware that I do have my jackass moments. We all fall down, and we get up when we are able. Every one of us.
As I was driving home from my encounter with Sue (who told me she probably wouldn't remember me the next time she saw me either, and to please just reintroduce myself), I saw some dude honking at a very cautious driver in front of him, and yelling "Go, go, go!" I chuckled and shook my head. Just yesterday that was me.
Empathy and compassion are boomerangs: you send them out - and they come back.
Just open your hands.
Thank you, Sue.
*I do understand that some people think "old" is a negative term. I think it is a descriptive term that is made negative when loaded with a negative value judgement. Some of the most influential people in my life have been old people, and I hope to live long enough be one someday.