Earlier this week my friend Tara, writer, poet, and recently published on Tinderbox shared a story on her blog recently that reminded me of a post I’d been meaning to write. You can read the her full post here, but in short, her son completely “rewrote” the story arc from a fable he was reading from school. In his defense the instructions were to tell it “in his own words.” That is how we see the world after all, through our own eyes and the perception of that story (or image) is based on our own experience.
I drive a large SUV, not one of the new MAMMOTH sized ones but it definitely would overlap the lines in a compact space, so when I park, I try to be mindful of it’s girth. A few months back as I was parking, I had to park catterwonky ( my own term for a bit over the line). Not because I didn’t know how to park, but because the truck to the other side of me was over the line, which meant I had to park over the line, or find a new place to park. (Like that would happen when my errand is less than 3 minutes). As I walked by the other truck, I thought, HMMPH how RUDE. They didn’t have to park over the line. When I came back out though, all the other cars were gone, and it was me, the sole offender of “bad parking.” Anyone driving by could clearly see that I looked like that jerk who can’t park. Except, that’s not the story.
And that’s when the dots connected for me. Anyone going by RIGHT now, in this precise moment and context would think that I am the “problem.” No one can see what I’ve seen. No one can tell the story that I’ve lived. All they can do is judge me (uh my parking) based on exactly what they see, right here, right now.
OUCH. DOUBLE OUCH.
We do that. I do that. I AM GUILTY.
And I don’t want to be that woman — who passes judgment on just this moment, because there is so much more to the story that I know that I just can’t see. I want to be the one who can accept people, where they are, and believe that they are being the best person they can be. (Now that does not mean that I have to let my boundaries slip and allow someone to treat me badly)
The next time you see someone parked like that guy, take a moment … because maybe the person before him started a chain reaction that led to this moment. The only moment you have perspective on, but it’s probably not the whole story.