- On August 9, 2016
I met a man this week. Someone who, because of his disability, I put in a (mental) box and dismissed. Seriously combat wounded, his obvious physical and mental challenges frightened me. And I made a too quick decision that there was nothing to learn from him.
And I was dead wrong.
We naturally do that. Make snap decisions about what we think might “hurt” us and what is safe. That assessment gets lodged in our brain and every time we see that person in the future, that micro-memory comes up…unless we put the brakes on it and open ourselves to see each encounter as a ‘clean slate.’ That is where the fun of life really starts–curiosity to engage anew with every encounter instead of dismissing the people we meet with a one-dimensional persona: whiner, flighty, quiet, naive, angry, smart, kind, big ego.
I have found that my snap assessment has much more to do with my own inadequacies than it does with this primitive ranking mechanism about what may or may not pose some kind of ‘threat’ to me.
As this man struggled to get the thoughts in his head articulated into words we would understand, I felt at that moment the tables were turned. I was the one with the disability–short sightedness and ego. Here I was making a snap decision that I was somehow ‘better’ because I don’t have to deal with a brain injury and a network of scars.
Once I started seeing this man as whole and complex, the physical and mental challenges faded away.
I also found a place where Joy lives. He exudes a sense of peace, perseverance, humility, and acceptance. His smile lights up the room and his deep laugh lights up the world.
I am embarrassed I took the easy way out in initially dismissing him. And fortunately I put my ego aside quickly and self-corrected to become curious about the whole man. I discovered that while he was the most seriously challenged, he was also the most beautiful and complete person in that room.
This fortunate encounter was a much-needed reminder for me of where Joy really comes from– a beautiful spirit. You never know the form that beautiful spirit will take.
Who is a reminder of Joy in your life?
Photo Credit: Babaroga l Shutterstock ID:245747281